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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]>
Philip Terrie <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 18 Nov 1999 19:54:18 -0500
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"A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
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>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.


Philip G. Terrie, Director
American Culture Studies
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH 43403
(419) 372-8886 (phone)
(419) 372-7537 (fax)
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