The Biltmore Forest School and Cradle of Forestry: the origins of professional forestry education in the United States

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Published on March 5, 2014

Author: ERWilson1

Source: slideshare.net

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The Biltmore Forest School was the first professional school of forestry in the United States, founded in 1898. It was based in Pink Beds Valley, Pisgah Forest, near Asheville, North Carolina. The school operated for 15 years and trained 350 foresters. The founder of the school was Dr C. A. Schenck, forester on the Biltmore Estate.

This presentation is a photo-essay based on a trip in October 2013 to the Biltmore Forest School site, which is now part of the Cradle of Forestry visitor and educational centre. The Cradle of Forestry is operated by the US Forest Service, and the forest is now part of the Pisgah National Forest.

The Cradle of Forestry not only tells the story of the beginnings of professional forestry education in the United States, but also presents the history and development of sustainable forest management to a new and diverse audience.

Forest History Photo-Essay The Biltmore Forest School and Cradle of Forestry in the United States Edward Wilson Silviculturist First presented: 04 03 2014 This version: v1.0, 04 03 2014

The Biltmore Forest School Chronology Dates Developments 1888 George Vanderbilt (1862-1914) purchases 2,000 acres of land near Asheville, North Carolina for his country home, to be called Biltmore. Further purchases eventually increase the Biltmore Estate to 125,000 acres. 1892-1895 Gifford Pinchot (1865-1946) is employed as forester on the estate. He completes a survey and the first forest management plan for the woodland. 1895 Dr Carl Schenck (1868-1955) is appointed forester in succession to Pinchot. 1898 Dr Schenck founds the Biltmore Forest School , the first professional forestry college in the United States. The school is located in the Pink Beds Valley of Pisgah Forest, an 80,000 acre tract on the Biltmore Estate, stretching 20 miles south of Asheville. 1908 The Biltmore Forest Fair celebrates the 20th anniversary of forest management on the Biltmore Estate and the 10th anniversary of the Biltmore Forest School. 1909 -1913 Schenck leaves Biltmore in 1909. The Biltmore Forest School continues under his leadership at various locations in Europe and the United States until closing in 1913. 1914 Pisgah Forest is sold by Mrs Edith Vanderbilt, widow of George, to the US Forest Service to form the core of the Pisgah National Forest. 1968 The Cradle of Forestry opens on the site of the Biltmore Forest School. Many of the original buildings are restored or reconstructed. A Forest Discovery Center is built as a new exhibition and educational resource, telling the story of sustainable forestry.

Location of the Biltmore Forest School Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina, USA Asheville United States North Carolina Biltmore Forest School Cradle of Forestry Pisgah National Forest Pisgah National Forest

The Schoolhouse, at the centre of the Biltmore Forest School. This building dates from 1891. It eventually fell into disrepair and was reconstructed in 1965.

Classes in silviculture, surveying, tree and plant identification, zoology and law took place here from 1898 – all still core subjects in a professional forestry education.

The spartan interior of the Schoolhouse. Classes were held here in the morning, and then re-convened in the forest for practical work in the afternoon.

The lectern and chalk board in front of the classroom. Schenck was regarded as a demanding yet inspirational teacher.

Dr. Schenck’s office. From here Carl Schenck prepared his lectures and reports, managed the forest and ran a profitable timber business for George Vanderbilt.

Dr. Schenck’s writing desk. At this desk Carl Schenck wrote and prepared the first forestry textbooks in the United States.

Ranger’s Dwelling. Built in 1882, this served as a residence and ranger station (until the 1960s). Students used the garden as a tree nursery for school projects.

Black Forest Lodge. Schenck designed and built a number of forest lodges to house his team of Forest Rangers. The lodge is an original chestnut construction.

The Biltmore Forest School operated for 15 years and trained 350 foresters. Many graduates went on to distinguished careers in forestry across the United States.

Looking Glass Falls, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina. A restored forest and beautiful landscape – the backdrop for training at the Biltmore Forest School.

Links • Cradle of Forestry: www.cradleofforestry.com • Pisgah National Forest (National Forests of North Carolina): www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc • Biltmore Estate: www.biltmore.com • Society of American Foresters: www.safnet.org • All photos © 2013 E. R. Wilson

Forest History Photo-Essay The Biltmore Forest School and Cradle of Forestry in the United States Edward Wilson Silviculturist Silviculture Research International 45a King Street, Penrith, Cumbria, England CA11 7AY www.silviculture.org.uk First presented: 04 03 2014 This version: v1.0, 04 03 2014

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