Peeling Back The Bark

  • Wood in the Space Age: Forest Products at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair

    By Eben Lehman on April 21, 2022

    On April 21, 1962, the Century 21 Exposition (better known as the Seattle World’s Fair) opened to the public. From a vacation home in Florida, President Kennedy pressed a telegraph key to officially start the fair. The Seattle World’s Fair is best remembered for the Space Needle, which became an enduring Seattle landmark, as well…

  • The Great Northwest Log Haul of 1988

    By Eben Lehman on May 13, 2021

    On May 13, 1988, a convoy of trucks more than 12 miles long rolled down U.S. Highway 93 in Montana. Onlookers gawked and cheered as over 300 trucks fully loaded down with logs passed by one by one. This impressive display was actually a unique form of protest by the local logging community. Frustrated by…

  • The Monongahela at 100: How Its Signature Event Changed American Forestry

    By Guest Contributor on April 30, 2020

    The Monongahela National Forest was established on April 28, 1920. Historian Char Miller has adapted a chapter from the book America’s Great National Forests, Wilderness & Grasslands, with photographs by Tim Palmer (Rizzoli, 2016), to mark the centennial.  The banner headline on the front page of the Elkins, West Virginia, newspaper for November 8, 1973,…

  • The Night the Mountain Fell

    By James Lewis on August 16, 2019

    “The night the mountain fell” is how one of the strongest earthquakes to rock the United States was remembered by some survivors. It wasn’t in California, though. It hit Montana. An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 centered on the Gallatin National Forest—about 40 miles northwest of Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park—struck at…

  • The Early Career of John S. Holmes, North Carolina’s First State Forester

    By Eben Lehman on May 31, 2019

    John Simcox Holmes—born on this day in 1868—was a pioneer of forestry work in the state of North Carolina. The state’s first professional forester, he was hired in 1909 to survey and protect North Carolina’s forests, though he had little funding or staff with which to do the job. In 1915 he was named as…

  • October 15, 1934: Glued Laminated Timber Comes to America

    By Eben Lehman on October 15, 2018

    On October 15, 1934, workers broke ground for a new school gymnasium in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. To this day, this small city in the far northeast corner of Wisconsin remains best known for being totally consumed by a massive forest fire in 1871. The groundbreaking, while seemingly an unremarkable event, is another turning point in forest…

  • Reclaiming Henry David Thoreau, Forest Historian

    By James Lewis on July 12, 2017

    Crayon portrait of Henry David Thoreau, 1854. (public domain) The bicentennial of the birth of Henry David Thoreau this month comes at an auspicious time. Given the political climate we live in, his essay “Civil Disobedience” resonates today more than it has in nearly a half-century. I break no new ground in saying that the…

  • Collaboration, Inclusivity, and Resilience: Three Birthday Wishes for the Forest Service’s Second Century

    By James Lewis on June 30, 2017

    July 1 marks the anniversary of the U.S. Forest Service’s establishment of the National Forest System in 1907—the day the “federal forest reserves” were renamed “national forests.” Historian Char Miller wants to share his birthday wishes for them. Not every anniversary deserves commemoration. Ordinarily, the 110th birthday of anything would not merit much attention, but…

  • Parachuting Into History: Smokejumpers Land In DC For First Time

    By James Lewis on June 28, 2017

    On this date in 1949, four Forest Service smokejumpers made the first jump east of the Mississippi River and the first parachute jump ever made onto the Washington Ellipse, the oval park between the Washington Monument and the White House. The jump was even televised, which is how President Harry Truman reportedly watched it, even…

  • Explosive Truths: A Review of the book Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens

    By James Lewis on May 18, 2017

      The vial measures about 1.75″ in length but contains a great deal of information and memory. This is an expanded version of the review of Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens, by Steve Olson, which first appeared in the April-May 2017 issue of American Scientist.  When I visit environmental history–related locations, I typically bring…

  • The Gift of the Pisgah National Forest

    By James Lewis on October 17, 2016

    On October 17, 1916, the Pisgah National Forest was the first national forest established under the Weeks Act of 1911. Written by FHS historian Jamie Lewis, this post was originally published in the online version of the Asheville Citizen-Times on October 14, 2016, and in print on October 16 to mark the centennial. “When people walk…

  • 7/31/1865: Austin Cary, the Father of Southern Forestry, Born

    By James Lewis on July 31, 2015

    Austin Cary, one of the great unsung heroes of American forestry, was born this date in 1865 in East Machias, Maine. A Yankee through and through, he found professional success in the South, eventually becoming known as the “Father of Southern Forestry.” In 1961, twenty-five years after Cary’s passing, his biographer Roy R. White wrote…

  • Hollywood Stars Celebrate Arbor Day In All Their Finery

    By James Lewis on April 24, 2015

    Much like today’s celebrities, Hollywood stars of the 1920s never missed an opportunity to align themselves with a cause that everyone could get behind. In 1923, industry leaders joined with conservation leaders like Gifford Pinchot and William Greeley to establish the American Reforestation Association, which sought to leverage Hollywood’s PR machinery and the exploding popularity of…

  • May 29, 1903: Bob "Forest History" Hope was Born

    By James Lewis on May 29, 2013

    On this date in 1903, Bob “Forest History” Hope was born in London, England. His career in comedy spanned 60 years and moved from the Vaudeville stage to radio and film and eventually television. He appeared in more than 70 movies, most famously in the “Road” series with his pal Bing Crosby, a fellow tree…

  • TECO and Stickee Staystuck Celebrate Anniversaries

    By James Lewis on January 16, 2013

    On this date in 1933, the Timber Engineering Company (TECO) was incorporated  in Washington, DC, as a “national sales promotion, engineering and research agency for wood and forest products” by the National Lumber Manufacturing Association. While that organization later became the National Forest Products Association and later still the American Forest & Paper Association, TECO hasn’t changed names or its mission…

  • Further Reflections on Mann Gulch

    By James Lewis on August 5, 2012

    As the Lewis and Clark expedition made its way through the beautiful, rugged area he would name “the gates of the rocky mountains,” Meriwether Lewis recorded in his journal on July 19, 1805: “this evening we entered much the most remarkable clifts that we have yet seen. these clifts rise from the waters edge on…

  • July 16, 1894: Consolidated Water Power Company Formed

    By Eben Lehman on July 16, 2012

    On this date in 1894, a group of men with water and property rights along the Wisconsin River reached a monumental agreement. The group decided to combine their holdings in order to build dams and consolidate water power in the area around Grand Rapids and Centralia (the two towns would later merge to become Wisconsin…

  • "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" released 30 years ago today. Where’s the sequel?

    By James Lewis on June 11, 2012

    Today marks the 30th anniversary of the release of “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” Steven Spielberg’s beloved film about an alien visitor who befriends a young boy; it’s also the film that gave us the catch phrase “Phone home.” As faithful readers of this blog know, we love films from the ’80s nearly as much as forest-themed…

  • The Two Tragedies of Archie Mitchell

    By James Lewis on May 30, 2012

    On this date in 1962, the Rev. Archie Mitchell was seized by the Viet Cong, bound in front of his wife and daughters, and taken away from the leprosarium where they were working near Buon Ea Na, Vietnam, never to be heard from again. This was the second wartime tragedy for Mitchell. Seventeen years earlier…

  • May 11, 1922: US Forest Service heeds call of nature

    By James Lewis on May 11, 2012

    On this date in 1922, the Agricultural Appropriations Act of May 11 made the first appropriation for the improvement of public campgrounds in national forests. The bill made special reference to the protection of public health and the prevention of forest fires. The U.S. Forest Service received $10,000. What’s most surprising about that amount is…

Back to Blog


January 2024 (1)February 2024 (1)March 2024 (2)
January 2023 (1)August 2023 (1)
March 2022 (1)April 2022 (2)June 2022 (1)
January 2021 (1)February 2021 (1)May 2021 (1)August 2021 (1)December 2021 (1)
March 2020 (1)April 2020 (1)June 2020 (2)November 2020 (1)December 2020 (1)
January 2019 (1)February 2019 (1)May 2019 (2)July 2019 (1)August 2019 (1)November 2019 (1)December 2019 (1)
February 2018 (1)March 2018 (2)May 2018 (1)August 2018 (1)October 2018 (1)
January 2017 (1)February 2017 (12)March 2017 (7)April 2017 (1)May 2017 (2)June 2017 (2)July 2017 (1)September 2017 (1)November 2017 (3)
January 2016 (1)February 2016 (1)March 2016 (1)April 2016 (1)May 2016 (2)June 2016 (1)July 2016 (1)August 2016 (1)October 2016 (1)December 2016 (1)
January 2015 (1)February 2015 (1)April 2015 (3)July 2015 (2)August 2015 (2)September 2015 (1)December 2015 (2)
February 2014 (1)March 2014 (1)April 2014 (1)June 2014 (2)August 2014 (2)September 2014 (1)October 2014 (3)December 2014 (1)
January 2013 (1)February 2013 (3)March 2013 (3)April 2013 (1)May 2013 (3)June 2013 (1)July 2013 (2)August 2013 (1)September 2013 (1)October 2013 (1)November 2013 (1)December 2013 (1)
January 2012 (2)February 2012 (2)March 2012 (2)April 2012 (2)May 2012 (3)June 2012 (2)July 2012 (2)August 2012 (2)September 2012 (1)October 2012 (2)December 2012 (2)
January 2011 (1)February 2011 (4)March 2011 (3)April 2011 (4)May 2011 (3)June 2011 (3)July 2011 (2)August 2011 (3)September 2011 (2)October 2011 (1)November 2011 (2)December 2011 (2)
January 2010 (2)February 2010 (2)March 2010 (2)April 2010 (2)May 2010 (3)June 2010 (2)July 2010 (2)August 2010 (2)September 2010 (1)October 2010 (4)November 2010 (1)December 2010 (3)
January 2009 (5)February 2009 (5)March 2009 (4)April 2009 (3)May 2009 (5)June 2009 (3)July 2009 (3)August 2009 (4)September 2009 (2)October 2009 (1)November 2009 (2)December 2009 (2)
August 2008 (1)September 2008 (4)October 2008 (10)November 2008 (7)December 2008 (4)