Dispatches From The Old Timers” Reveal Emotional Beginnings of US Forest Service
MILFORD, PA – A free program that reveals the contents of more than 5,000 pages of letters written to Gifford Pinchot, founder and first chief of the US Forest Service, is planned at Pinchot’s former home, Grey Towers National Historic Site, Milford, PA, on Saturday, June 6, 2015, at 5:30 pm
The letters, written by more than 100 men and women who served under Pinchot from the beginning of the agency in 1905 to 1910 and who Pinchot called the “Old Timers,” are emotional and raw and illustrate a commitment to public service and protection of our nation’s natural resources that has not yet been shared.
Personal experiences, such as the US Forest Ranger whose horse was shot by an unfriendly critic of the agency, and emotional tributes to Pinchot’s leadership, are revealed in the letters, which have been in storage boxes at the Library of Congress Manuscript Division in Washington, DC, for more than 50 years.
Author and scholar Bibi Gaston, who has been reading, culling, transcribing and digesting the collection, will speak on some of the more outstanding experiences of the early US Forest Service employees as they navigated their way through unchartered territory out west in the early 20th century. Many of the issues they faced back then – water, forest health, competition for use of the public lands – are the same issues the agency continues to face today as it manages 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands.
Comprised of several thousand pages of revelatory prose, poetic reflections, reports from the field, and photographs, the Old Timers Collection brings both the forest and the foresters to life. Ranging from one page to fifty pages, the narratives present a chronicle of a forester’s day-to-day life in the far-flung, unexplored, and virtually unmapped corners of America.
Ms. Gaston will be seeking input from the audience about how best to share the “Old Timers” narratives so as not to lose their unbelievable historical value and so that we can learn from their experiences.
Following the program, the Grey Towers Heritage Association will sponsor a meet-the-scholar wine and cheese reception for its members. New members are welcome.
For more information, please call 570-296-9630 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.