By Susan Freinkel
The yank chestnut was once considered one of America's most typical, valued, and cherished trees--a ''perfect tree'' that governed the forests from Georgia to Maine. yet within the early 20th century, an unique plague swept in the course of the chestnut forests with the strength of a wildfire. inside of 40 years, the blight had killed with reference to 4 billion timber and left the species teetering close to extinction. It was once one of many worst ecological blows to North the USA because the Ice Age--and one most pros thought of past fix. In American Chestnut, Susan Freinkel tells the dramatic tale of the obdurate optimists who refused to permit this cultural icon cross. In a compelling weave of background, technology, and private statement, she relates their quest to save lots of the tree via tools that ranged from classical plant breeding to state of the art gene know-how. however the center of her tale is the solid of unconventional characters who've fought for the tree for a century, undeterred via setbacks or skeptics, and fueled by way of their desires of restored forests and their robust affinity for a fellow species.
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Extra info for American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree
By the middle of the century, the mountains were Wlled with small-scale, one- or two-man logging operations that would cut down the best trees along a waterway and Xoat the logs to settlements and sawmills downstream. Logging was an important seasonal income for many mountain families. “Still the forest was only dented, not broken,” notes writer Chris Bolgiano. ” By then, industrial-scale logging had arrived. Timber barons, who’d already made millions emptying the Great Lakes pine forests, had begun opening new operations in the South and the southern Appalachians in the 1880s.
Over a single weekend in October 1915, about thirty wagonloads of chestnuts were brought to the Stuart depot from Meadows of Dan. The trade was also a boon to Stuart’s railway stationmaster, who oversaw the shipment of nuts to urban markets. During chestnut harvest, “you could hardly Wnd a place to put the bags of chestnuts down, because everyone was a chestnut dealer, just about,” recalled the son of the man who ran the station at the turn of the century. By 1903, the Dick and Willie had been upgraded to standard gauge and the train was moving thousands of pounds of chestnuts every day during the season.
In 1907 the agency established a Laboratory of Forest Pathology to deal with the growing roll call of tree diseases: peckiness, pine rot, ink disease, plum black knot, and of course, chestnut blight. Forest pathology itself was a relatively new discipline, a latecomer to a science that traditionally had been concentrated on diseases aVecting food crops and orchard trees. That focus began to change at the turn of the century with the rise of the conservation movement and growing interest in the nation’s forests as a splendid but endangered resource to be enjoyed and 44 / Part One exploited.
American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree by Susan Freinkel