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November 1999


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"A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Wayne Miller <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 23 Nov 1999 00:15:14 GMT
"A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
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Dear Philip,
I must disagree at least partially with this view, even though I realize
your knowledge in Adirondack land use is vast. At least on the edges of the
mountains, the advent of the sulfide process for making paper from
cellulose (wood) meant that trees of all sizes right down to saplings were
marketable. One of the practices that led Teddy Roosevelt and company to
lobby for the establishment of the Park and Preserve was the practise of
the State swapping nasty old forest land with land that the
lumbering/pulping interests had thoughtfully deforested so it was then
useful for farming and other activities. This activity combined with
explosive growth in NYC and other costal cities that needed raw materials
and food, and the peak of development of the railroads to transport
products, spurred the agricultural development of areas like central
Franklin County. Not a particularly mountainous part of the Park, hundreds
of thousands of acres were, none the less, farmed for a generation or two
after the civil war until about WWI. These were mixed farms, small, and, if
one was lucky, subsistence. The soil was thin, the growing season short,
and the tillable plots small in comparison central New York and the
midwest. But even in the middle of the mountains, such as around Lake
Placid, farming was viable well into this century. Not only did John Brown
and Garrison believe this when they started their 'free' community there in
the 1850's, but the Lake Placid Club maintained a farming operation that
produced much of the fresh fruits, vegetable, and dairy products consumed
by its members until, roughly, WWII.

Wayne Miller

Philip Terrie writes:

> >In a message dated Wed, 17 Nov 1999 10:28:33 AM Eastern Standard Time,
> >[log in to unmask] writes:
> >
> >> Am I to read this right.  The amount of Forest Land is increasing in NYS?
> >>
> >> Jim Maguire
> >> [log in to unmask]
> >
> >This makes sense.  The Adirondacks and Catskills were more or less clear
> >cut in the 1800's.  Both have since gone back to forest.  And probably,
> >like the New England states, much marginal farmland was cleared by the
> >first settlers only to be abandoned after the Erie Canal helped to settle
> >the midwest.  So New York's greatest achievement of the 19th century
> >helped put many of its farmers out of business.
> This posting repeats a commonly held misperception: the Adirondacks, as a
> region,  were never close to being "clear cut."  There have, of course,
> been examples of cutting all the standing timber on patches of a few acres
> here and there (especially for making charcoal in the immediate vicinity of
> the Champlain Valley iron mines), but even dutring the height of Adirondack
> lumbering (1890-1910) clear cutting was not practiced.  For one thing, in
> those days the only trees wortth cutting were softwoods, for either lumber
> or pulpwood, and the Adirondacks have always been a mix of hardwoods and
> softwoods. Before the days of gasoline-powered trucks, there was never any
> economically sound reason for harvesting hardwoods, which didn't float well
> on river drives and were thus hard to get to mill or market.  Barbara
> McMartin has written an excellent, prodigiously researched history of the
> Adirondack forest (The Great Forest, 1994) that thoroughly studies and
> rejects the notion of wide-spread clear cutting in the Adirondacks.
> cheers,
> phil
> Philip G. Terrie, Director
> American Culture Studies
> Bowling Green State University
> Bowling Green, OH 43403
> (419) 372-8886 (phone)
> (419) 372-7537 (fax)
> [log in to unmask]