Peeling Back The Bark

  • Life and Lunch: Alfred Eisenstaedt’s Weyerhaeuser Timber Crew Photographs

    By Eben Lehman on February 9, 2024

    In December 1954, Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt journeyed into the woods near Snoqualmie Falls, Washington, for an unusual assignment. His subjects were a Weyerhaeuser Timber Company logging crew. But instead of photographing them felling trees, the men would appear …

  • Down on the Bayou: The 1930s Forest Service Photos of Robert K. Winters

    By Eben Lehman on January 11, 2024

    Robert K. Winters (1902-1999) had a long and impactful career in the world of forestry. While he ended his career as a leading figure in international forestry, his early years were spent trudging through the swamps of Louisiana. A selection …

  • The ‘Ace Photographer’ and Paul Bunyan: Berenice Abbott’s Red River Lumber Company Photos

    By Eben Lehman on April 13, 2022

    In February 1944 a new photograph exhibition opened at a San Francisco gallery, featuring a new set of images by the talented American photographer Berenice Abbott (1898-1991). The location where she had shot was a radical departure for the …

  • “Madam Secretary” and the Gifford Pinchot Connection

    By James Lewis on November 21, 2019

    I’d never seen the TV series Madam Secretary until this week. Now in its sixth season, former secretary of State Elizabeth McCord is president of the United States. The character’s concern about climate change makes it unsurprising to see landscape …

  • Remembering Jerry Williams (1945-2019), Forest Service Historian

    By James Lewis on February 12, 2019

    Gerald W. Williams, a former national historian with the U.S. Forest Service and a Fellow of the Forest History Society, passed away on January 3, 2019. Among the many reasons for naming Jerry a FHS Fellow was his many significant …

  • New Digital Exhibit: Pioneer Trail Riders of the Wilderness

    By Eben Lehman on August 17, 2018

    Recently FHS staff came across a scrapbook in our collection of American Forestry Association records. Its pages were filled with original photographs and documents from the American Forestry Association’s (AFA) first Trail Ride in July of 1933. The Trail …

  • 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. …

  • Korstian Forestry Education Lantern Slides Now Viewable

    By Eben Lehman on December 17, 2014

    From the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, lecturers often used glass lantern slides to illustrate their topics. Photographs were copied onto glass plates to make the slides, which would then be used with a projector to cast images onto walls …

  • Schenck Documentary Now In Production!

    By James Lewis on August 14, 2014

    What began as a millionaire’s dream, a genius’s vision, and a forester’s labor is now being captured in a Forest History Society documentary film. This spring the Forest History Society joined forces with Bonesteel Films to produce First in Forestry

  • Growing a Tree Army: Historic Photos of Michigan’s USFS Nurseries

    By Eben Lehman on November 6, 2013

    A significant amount of Michigan’s public forests today owe their existence to the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s. Known as “Roosevelt’s Tree Army,” CCC enrollees played a crucial role in reforestation efforts throughout the country during …

  • "The Day JFK Was Here": Pinchot Institute Dedicated 9/24/1963

    By James Lewis on September 13, 2013

    By Dan Dwyer, Port Jervis Union-Gazette¹

    MILFORD, Penn., Sept. 24—

    The helicopter landed exactly on time. It was 1 p.m.

    The door opened and became a ramp and this man came out.

    It was the start of a hectic 70-minute …

  • Camp Cajon: California’s Original Welcome Station

    By Eben Lehman on August 14, 2013

    Over 300 historic U.S. Forest Service photographs from California were recently added to our image database, thanks to a collaboration with USFS Region 5 (Pacific Southwest). Matthew Stever, a Region 5 Heritage Photo Project intern, organized and scanned a large …

  • NC Forest Service Photo Gallery Now Available

    By James Lewis on August 1, 2012

    Between 1891 and 1938, forestry in North Carolina saw many changes. The state government hired its first state employee to carry out forestry work in 1891; its first professionally trained forester, John Simcox Holmes, in 1909; and its first fire …

  • On the Waterfront: Pulp Company Photos Document Bellingham’s Past

    By Eben Lehman on June 7, 2012

    Small crowds gathered around the Bellingham, Washington, waterfront on a Tuesday afternoon this past February to watch a 93-foot red brick building crash to the ground. The planned demolition of the former bleach plant building was just the latest …

  • 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 …

  • November 14, 1921: First-ever National Fire Control Conference held

    By James Lewis on November 14, 2011

    On this date in 1921, the U.S. Forest Service convened the first national conference on fire control at Mather Air Field near Sacramento, California. Virtually all the agency’s leaders and brightest minds came together for the conference, including six district …

  • From Aerologger to "Balloondoggle"

    By Eben Lehman on April 29, 2011

    “Recent experiments conducted in the woods of the Great Upper Lumber Company of Scandinavia have demonstrated the permanency of the Aerologger for use in the lumbering operations of this and other planets.”

    So read the opening sentence of a 1913 …

  • The 12 Days of Christmas, FHS style

    By James Lewis on December 22, 2010

    Here at PBBWHQ (Peeling Back the Bark World Headquarters), we’re perfectly giddy with the holiday spirit. The lights are up, the tree is lit, and Alvin J. Huss is watching over us.

    We’re so caught up in the season that …

  • Trucks, Tractors, and Swindle Sticks

    By Eben Lehman on December 2, 2009

    Three new photo galleries added to our website today contain more than 250 historic photos illustrating aspects of logging over the past century.  The first gallery, Logging–Scaling, documents the work of scalers in the woods.  A scaler was the …

  • Ken Burns’s other “Best Idea” – Using FHS photos in his PBS film, “The National Parks”

    By James Lewis on September 25, 2009

    We recently received an advanced copy of the new Ken Burns film, The National Parks – America’s Best Idea, which begins airing on PBS starting Sunday, September 27.  You can see images from the FHS Archives in the first …

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