OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Forestry Photos

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Location of exhibit: Richardson Hall, 1st floor, West wing

This exhibit came about as a result of the support Dr. Robin Rose received from Dr. Thomas Maness, Department Head, Department of Forest Engineering, Resources, and Management, to go to the National Archives II outside of Washington, DC in order to look at the history of forest regeneration in the United States.

The College of Forestry had its 100th anniversary in 2006.  It was just over a hundred years ago that Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the US Forest Service, produced his highly popular two-part book, A Primer of Forestry.  While many have read Pinchot’s Breaking New Ground, few have ever heard of A Primer of Forestry in which Pinchot lays out in the simplest of terms the basis for forestry.  He also had some interesting views about managing forests and planting trees.  Pinchot was also insistent that records be kept, activities carefully catalogued, and photographs taken.  The photos you are about to look over came about, in part, as a result of his interest in having a long-term record. 

One of the ways to learn from photos like these is to look into them with more than the notion of “that is a picture of a tree” or “someone greasing a chute”.  To fully appreciate these photographic documents is to look at the details.  Notice the size of the roots on the trees, the size of the stumps relative to the men planting a new forest, the forests in the background, the boots, the hats, and the kinds of shovels. 

Today, the past is a forgotten time and these photos cover only a small window from the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.  The United States relied on wood for fueling both literally and figuratively the new technologies that were emerging.  The wood was cut in order to meet demand, which was insatiable.  The western United States came into forestry as much because the forests of Maine, New Hampshire, New York, the Mid-West and South were running out of timber.  Flumes, rail lines, and rivers were used extensively all over America to move the wood to meet public demand. Today, we are faced with an insatiable demand for the metals, chemicals, plastics, and glass that go into computers, iPhones, iPads, servers, cars, aircraft, and cameras.  As time seems to speed up, we have become disconnected from the very forces that put all of us here at this point in history. 

At the end of this exhibit are some pictures of the 555th Paratroop Infantry.  This is the little known singular all Black smoke jumping unit that fought fire out of Pendleton, Oregon from 1944 to 1949.  You just never know what you will come across while at an archives. 

Take your time.  Stop and stare at the past. 

Electronic Version