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Over 80000 of woodland acres became the home of America's first forestry school and the heart of the East's first national forest formed under the Weeks ActWhen George Vanderbilt constructed the Bilt House he hired forester Gifford Pinchot and later Dr Carl A Schenck to manage his forests Now comprising than 500000 acres Pisgah National Forest holds a vast history and breathtaking natural scenery The forest sits in the heart of the southern Appalachians and includes Linville Gorge Catawba Falls Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River Roan Mountain Max Patch Shining Rock Wilderness and Mount Pisgah Author and naturalist Marci Spencer treks through the human political and natural history that has formed Pisgah National Forest


10 thoughts on “Pisgah National Forest

  1. says:

    Interesting hike ideas want to do research on the The Bilt School of Forestry


  2. says:

    Awesome book about the places that I love to go It's so much interesting to learn the history of the places that you freuent Can't wait to read her others books


  3. says:

    Newer to the Asheville area I was curious to learn about the history of my favorite neighboring national forest Pisgah National Forest PNF It's a 45 minute drive from my front door to my favorite trailhead Cat Gap Loop and the amount of people I see everyday soaking in the natural beauty of these mountains and trees only reaffirms my decision to move here in May of 2018 Here is a bit of what I learned reading Marci Spencer’s MS Pisgah National Forest A History PNF is 1 of 155 national forests and the word Pisgah is the Hebrew word for summit The forest lies in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains on Western North Carolina where there are nearly 200 mountains towering 5000 or feet above sea level What we now consider the national forest was first roamed by local native Cherokee and Catawba tribes MS’s account fails to mention any use or ownership of these lands prior to Zachariah Candler the Revolutionary War Veteran who first laid claim to these lands In what seemed like a move to garner political favor Candler gifted Mount Pisgah Pisgah Forest's highest mountain to Thomas Clingman who reuired land to meet eligibility reuirements for a federal senatorial election He won and took claim of the mountain and surrounding areas before selling it for 800 to George Vanderbilt who helped fund the development of sustainable forestry The book spends significant time telling of the Vanderbilt arrival projects and methods for establishing pragmatic forestry principles as a best business practice Vanderbilt chose Gifford Pinchot to begin the forestry efforts who later became the 1st Chief of the US Forest Service It was Pinchot who wanted the forest to bring the greatest good to the greatest number for the long run To that end his successor Carl Schenck became the most renowned and celebrated forestry advocate in modern history The book goes into great detail about Schenck’s story and legacy but I’ll mention here that he founded the Bilt Forest School which essentially created the occupation of forest manager so that forests could be maintained and harvested judiciously and with great respect and understanding for fragile ecosystems erosion symbiotic relationships and mutual enjoyment Shenck’s Black Forest Lodge a forward forward base of operations if you will was located at what is now the Pisgah Wildlife Center Fish Hatcheries at the trailhead of Cat Gap Loop You can and should learn about Schenck by reading this book or by visiting the Cradle of Forestry Museum in PNF Some fun facts from the bookPisgah Ranger District is 160000 acres and boasts than 400 miles of trailsArt Loeb trail is its longest at 30 miles and follows much of the former property line of George Vanderbilt the founder of the Bilt EstateThe stone pillars at the Forest’s entrance near Brevard were erected as a World War I monument to area veterans The decorative bronze eagle at its apex was stolen in the 1970s and never recovered Black Walnut trees were harvested near the Cat Gap Loop for construction of airplane propellers in World War IThe Pink Beds are appropriately named for the amount of pink and white rhododendron and mountain laurel blossoms found here from May to July Lassie the famous TV collie slid down Slide Rock as a stunt for one of the episodesPisgah Astronomical Research Institute PARI is a star gazing research center located in PNF’s dark mountain forestJohn Rock was used as a hideout for Civil War bandits and was later used to house 7650 North Carolina members of the Civilian Conservation Corps who constructed a number of forest projects in the area from 1933 42Vanderbilt’s widow Edith sold estate forests to the federal government for 5acre in 1921 which then became PNF under the care of the US Forest ServiceIf you find yourself at all interested regional western North Carolina history and its forests in particular this is a must read My interests were specific to the Pisgah Ranger District but MS covers the history of PNF’s other districts as well Chapters 3 and 4 are excellent primers in the history of forestry education in America


  4. says:

    This work on Pisgah National Forest is a uick enjoyable combination of natural history history and travel writing with some trail writing also thrown in Mari Spencer presents very good details on Carl Schenk the Bilt Forest School Pisgah's lumber industry and the legislation enacted in creating Pisgah National Forest and in increasing its sizeI in particular enjoyed the last three chapters on the three ranger districts esp chapter seven on the Appalachian Ranger District where the author hikes the Appalachian Trail from the Smokies' northern boundary to the Nolichucky River crossing the Bald Mountains Descriptions on Pisgah's birds are also well done However a fair criticism of the book is that it lacks a true conclusion