Warren County Historical Society Presents …

The Digital Version “REWIND”

July 15, 2018

 

          The Warren County Historian’s Office recently received a gift of newspaper clippings, magazines, and other paper with a local history.  Included were three issues of a magazine entitled Glens Falls Today, A Regional Introspective.  The publisher is listed as J. A. Liles; the editor is Joan Martinelli; the business manager is Judy Kinney.  This particular issue (Spring/Summer 1986) has 16 people listed as contributing writers.

          These issues were published in 1985 & 1986; perhaps the magazine had a longer life.  Besides advertising – looking at many business no longer on the local scene – there are short stories on local interesting sites, organizations, people, the arts, and businesses and industries.

            To give you a flavor of the type of stories found in the magazine, we are reprinting one here on Pack Forest, the demonstration forest just north of Warrensburg.  The column is presented here as it was in the Volume 2, Number 1 issue of the magazine, Spring/Summer 1986.  The story, found on page 7 follows:

A Woodland Legacy

By Daniel M. Combs

            In 1870 Mrs. Margaret Woodard of Warrensburg desired a set of pewter tableware.  In order to raise the money for this rather extravagant purchase, her husband decided to fell some of the huge white pine trees that grew on their property.  But when it came time to cut one particular tree that towered above the rest, Mrs. Woodard said no.  Her old tableware would have to do.

 

            That tree has since been known as the Grandmother Tree, and today it serves as a sort of centerpiece to the Charles Lathrop Pack Demonstration Forest.  Although surrounded by a grove of other white pines now working on their third and perhaps fourth centuries, the Grandmother Tree stands majestically apart.  Her healthy crown rises to a height in excess of 165 feet, and her base, which shows folds as a result of her own great weight, measures nearly four-and-a half feet thick at chest height.  She is approximately 320 years old.

 

            Pack Forest, located between Routes 9 and 28 just north of Warrensburg, is a satellite campus of the New York State College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse University.  Its major function is to serve as a field campus for students of the college, which it has done since 1967.  But more than that, it is a multipurpose facility open to the public and a demonstration forest that holds an important place in the history of American forestry.

 

            Commercial logging began in Warren County at the time of the Revolution, and with the advent of river driving in about 1800, grew rapidly until about a hundred years ago, when for a brief time Glens Falls could lay claim to being the nation’s leading lumber producing center.  But then a combination of disease, wasteful exploitation, and forest fires lead to the decline of commercial lumbering not only in Warren County, but throughout the eastern United States.

 

            It was during this period that Charles Lathrop Pack was being educated as a forester at a variety of prestigious institutions in the Northeast.  By 1908 he had reached such a position of respect in his field that President (Theodore) Roosevelt appointed him a National Conservation Commissioner.  He subsequently served as president of the American Forestry Association and the National Conservation Congress.  He also helped in the reforestation of war-torn Europe during the 1920’s.

 

            Mr. Pack’s dearest cause was forestry education, both intensive – the training of professional foresters – and extensive – public education on the broadest scale.  It was to these dual ends that he established demonstration forests at Yale, Cornell, Washington and Michigan universities, in addition to the one in Warrensburg.  It is noteworthy that upon his death in 1937 at the age of eighty, he was buried beneath the great white pines he so loved in the Warrensburg forest.  As the plaque at the site reads:  “Here he lies where he longed to be.”

 

            Today the 2200 acres that Mr. Pack purchased and conveyed to Syracuse University in 1927 lie in various stages of growth, with 47 acres surrounding the Grandmother set aside as an ecological reserve.  The entire Forest has been mapped and compartmented according to soil type and tree species.  This allows the entire unit to serve as an outdoor laboratory for the College of Environmental Science and Forestry students who spend a seven-week summer session there, and also for visiting graduate students, who come from such highly acclaimed forestry programs as those at the University of Vermont and the University of North Carolina.

 

            But as was Mr. Pack’s desire, the Forest also serves as a tool for public education.  The Department of Environmental Conservation uses the Forest as the site each year for its environmental education series for area grade schools.  A nature trail is maintained in the ecological reserve area, and a network of roads and trails makes nearly the entire Forest open to hikers, picnickers, birdwatchers, and the like.  Pack Forest Lake, with its trout and bass, is open to public fishing, as are the several brook trout streams on the property.

            Fall finds hunters in pursuit of deer, and in recent years a crew from the Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility has logged various compartments as part of the ongoing management of the Forest.  There is a sawmill on the premises, and all the timber cut is either sawed there for sale or sold as pulpwood to either International Paper or Finch Pruyn.

            In winter the Forest is secluded and quiet, with only Supervisor Don Ross to provide signs of daily human activity.  But through it all stand those magnificent white pines, waiting until the next class will come to study beneath them, and to try and learn their secrets.

Pack Forest Update

            Since the above article was written over 30 years ago, we thought it best to update the information as best we could.  A call to Bruce Breitmeyer, who is now the person responsible for the site, brings up the following information:

          The actual name of the giant tree is Grandmother’s Tree.  It remains a center focus of the Forest and is doing well in spite of being struck by lightning 10 or 15 years ago.  The strike left a lightning scar on the trunk, but “…she’s doing well.”

            The college name has changed slightly to State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, but today programs are similar to Mr. Pack’s original plan.  It remains a satellite campus for students to take summer classes, there are environmental education ‘camps’ for teenagers, and programs include information on fishing, forestry, water and conservation.

            Hunting on the site is for bow hunting only.  Guns are not allowed.  The public is invited to visit the facility, and if you are lucky, you can hear and may even see the nesting loons on the lake.

 

          Pack Forest is the Department of Environmental Conservation uses it for summer camp.  Located in the southern Adirondacks on 2,500 acres of woodlands, the property includes an 85-acre lake and miles of trails leading to mountain vistas, marshes and the banks of the Hudson River. Pack Forest was named after Charles Lathrop Pack.  Pack purchased the land to be used as a teaching and demonstration forest and gave it to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry to fulfill this goal. Today, Pack Forest is still used as a teaching forest by SUNY as well as for the DEC Summer Camp. (from the internet)

            We thank Mr. Bruce Beitmeyer, who has worked for the program for 35 years for the updated information.

The Warren County Historical Society and the Warren County Historian would be interested in learning more about Glens Falls Today, and would appreciate anyone with knowledge of it calling the Society at 518-743-0734 or sending an email to mail@warrencountyhistoricalsociety.org

 

 

 

Warren County Historical Society // 50 Gurney Lane // Queensbury, NY 12804 // (518) 743-0734

 

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