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When the early explorers came here, they found a new world, dominated by stands of virgin forests that stretched from what is now eastern Canada, south to Florida and west to the Great Plains.  Settlers took from the forest the wood needed for shelter, fuel, furniture and construction of all kinds.

The first exports from America were poles, shakes, pitch, tar and other forest products dispatched from Virginia in 1608 by Captain John Smith.  He substituted these products for the gold and spices which The Jamestown Colony had failed to produce.  The beginning of the lumber industry in America has its roots in the Virginia Company.  Several communities claim the first sawmills, but the records of the Virginia Company indicate that the earliest sawmills were established in Jamestown, Virginia, before 1608.

Scientific forestry was unknown in America until the turn of the center.  The few foresters in this country were trained in Europe and they soon found they faced a different situation in the American forests.

In 1890, George Vanderbilt, having purchased the Biltmore Estate in western North Carolina near Asheville, recognized the need for professional assistance in managing the lands.  Gifford Pinchot, a young American who had received his forestry training in Germany, was hired in 1892 as chief forester. Pinchot set up a management plan for the estate and recommended the purchase of 100,000 acres of adjacent forest land.  Vanderbilt agreed, and bought the land known as Pisgah Forest.  That land later was the first forest purchased in the East for the National Forest system.  It eventually totaled 479,000 acres.

After Pinchot resigned from his Biltmore forest position in 1893, a young German forester, Carl Albert Schenck, was offered the job.  Schenck accepted and in 1895 was officially on the payroll.  Interestingly, on neighboring estates, two young men heard of Schenck's arrival and petitioned the German for permission to apprentice (at no pay) for the purpose of "learning the profession of forestry." Schenck accepted both Overton Price and E.M. Griffith as apprentices. 

It is generally agreed that Price and Griffith were the first foresters trained in this country.  Later in their careers, Gifford Pinchot became the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Overton Price became Pinchot's trusted deputy chief and Griffith became state forester of Wisconsin.

A formal school was established at Biltmore by Schenck in 1898.  Instructions had been given on an informal basis to several young men to assist him in the management of the forest.  With a sharp increase in the number of applicants for training, Carl Schenck arranged to combine the work and the instruction in an organized curriculum.  Thus, the Biltmore Forest School came into existence. Schenck left Biltmore in 1909 but the school continued for four years without a fixed headquarters.  It ceased operation in 1913.

During its existence, the Biltmore Forest School provided instruction to approximately 350 students.  Among its instructors were Homer House, a botanist; Clifton Howe, later Dean of Forestry at the University of Toronto; and numerous scientists who lectured on entomology, pathology, wood utilization and geology.

On July 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law an Act of Congress that commemorated the Biltmore Forest School as "the cradle of forestry in America."

Today, no country in the world has more professional foresters that the United States.  From technicians on the ground solving the everyday problems to the most academic-oriented teachers and researchers, American forestry is the most advanced anywhere.

U.S. Forests Appalachian Forest Tree Growth Forest Quantity U.S. Forestry Begin Forest Practices The Future

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  Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers, Inc., P.O. Box 427, High Point, NC 27272 | Tel. (336) 885-8315