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Pisgah National Forest: A History Kindle Edition
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Max Patch, Roan Mountain, Grandfather, the Pink Beds, Linville Gorge and Wilson Creek, Marci Spencer has touched all the bases in this lively and informative book.
From this beginning, the book elaborates on first forester Gifford Pinchot and, my favorite character, Dr. Carl A. Schenck who came from Germany to manage Vanderbilt’s forests. Schenck later started America’s first school of forestry.
No discussion of Vanderbilt’s influence is complete without talking about Bucksprings Lodge, his hunting lodge just below Mt. Pisgah. Spencer enlisted Walt Weber, an expert on Bucksprings Lodge and an active member of Carolina Mountain Club, to give her an in-depth tour of the lodge site.
But enough of the Pisgah district. Spencer writes with the same authority about the Appalachian District –Max Patch and Roan Mountains — and Grandfather District — Linville Gorge and Wilson Creek. The author walks through the human, political and natural history of Pisgah National Forest. She enlisted the help of dozens of expert historians and naturalists to make sure that her story is based on solid research.
If I have one quibble about the book, it’s that it only mentions the Mountains-to-Sea Across North Carolina twice just in passing. With over 250 miles of the MST through Pisgah, the trail might have gotten a bigger billing.
The History Press puts out beautifully illustrated books. The center of the Pisgah book displays 16 pages of color inserts. Many historic black and white pictures pepper the text. The bibliography and index are impeccable, another indication of a quality piece of work.
After retiring as a nurse practitioner, Marci earned her certificate as a North Carolina environmental educator and a Blue Ridge naturalist. She is the author of Clingmans Dome: Highest Mountain in the Great Smokies, and a soon-to-be released children’s book based on a true story, called Potluck Message Delivered: The Great Smoky Mountains are Saved! Marcia Spencer is a volunteer for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at Clingmans Dome.
PS – What happened to those buffaloes? The experiment failed and the buffalo didn’t survive.
A Little known fact about the success of Vanderbilt's vast estate was the contribution of Gifford Pinchot. As a young man he journeyed to France to pursue his passion -- forestry. While studying in Europe, he became a convert to the practice of selective harvesting of forest resources. After he returned to the United States in 1891, Vanderbilt recognized his unique understanding of managing large tracts of forest and hired him to do that. Surely the present day forest preservation activity and designations as a national forest would not be so without these leaders with foresight. A good read for anyone interested our natural world and its survival against great odds.