Stop # 3: Logging (Old growth forest far side of lake)

When trees were everything…

There are very few stands of Hemlocks like these left in this region. There was a time when they were everywhere, but the tanning industry changed all that. The bark of the Hemlock tree was needed for its tannin, which was part of the leather making process. The need for leather for soldiers’ boots during the Civil War was unquenchable and consumed the Hemlock forests. According to local records, a tannery in nearby DeBruce would go through 5,000 cords of Hemlock trees in a single year.

The Hemlocks were gone within a period of 25 to 30 years, according to local records. In December 1883, an article in The Sullivan County Record noted that two tanneries were closing the following year because of a lack of available bark.

But Hemlocks were not the only trees to fall to the woodsman’s axe. Early settlers in the region would clear forests, as they provided an early source of income given the need for logs and lumber. Logs were lashed together to form pony rafts to float down the Willowemoc and Beaver-kill rivers to the Delaware River at East Branch, where they were made into larger rafts for the trip down the Delaware to Trenton and Philadelphia.

There is even a brief mention in a local paper of how in 1906, Hammond was fined $25 (more than $800 in today’s money) for chopping down trees on state property. The article did not explain how he was caught.

While the tanning industry logged Hemlock, pa-per companies focused on spruce, pine, basswood, poplar, and white birch. The hardwoods, primarily maple and Cherry, were cut and used primarily for furniture.

Throughout much of the 20th and 21st centuries parts of the camp were logged for commercial purposes. The plots were picked primarily on their condition; trees infected with blight were prime targets for removal. Examples of modern planned clearings exist in three distinct areas in the camp. In the area of Black Beaver, the trees were in bad shape, and with the camp’s attendance swelling in the early 2000s, the Council planned a clearing of the site. The idea was to convert Black Beaver into the next Gowanus, a site that could hold troops with upwards of 40 Scouts. Sadly, after the trees were removed, the site’s natural splendor—or lack there-of—was revealed: a rocky, uninhabitable wasteland. While one troop did use the site, the area was converted into the Dan Beard New Scout Program Area in 2010.

The more recent logging efforts took place along parts of the Red and White Trails. Behind Shooting Sports and beyond, a massive plot of land was razed, again consisting of diseased or disease-prone trees. The Council receives some of the funds as a part of their contract with logging companies that come into the camp. Logging today focuses more on land management and conservation.

DIRECTIONS: Continue north along the lake until the Red Trail turns up towards Old Hunter Road, the main road into and through camp. Continue on the road, stopping at the road sign directing you to the Health Lodge.