Our century of conservation dates back to the building of the Biltmore Estate and the reforestation of abused and farmed over land. Forestry education began in 1889 when George W. Vanderbilt began to purchase land in Asheville as a site for his Biltmore Estate. Vanderbilt then hired a man by the name of Frederick Law Olmsted to handle the gardens & grounds of the magnificent estate.
On Olmstead's recommendation that the estate needed a "Forest Manager" Vanderbilt hired a man by the name of Gifford Pinchot. Pinchot, who would later serve as the first Chief of the USDA Forest Service and Governor of Pennsylvania, developed and implemented a forest management plan for Vanderbilt's forested holdings.
Subsequently, in 1895, German forester Dr. Carl A. Schenck accepted George Vanderbilt's offer to come to North Carolina to succeed Gifford Pinchot as manager of his vast forest properties. For the next 14 years, Dr. Schenck focused all of his forestry skills on transforming these woodlands that we know today as Pisgah National Forest.
Today the Cradle of Forestry in America is a 6,500 acre Historic Site within the Pisgah National Forest, set aside by Congress to commemorate the beginning of forestry conservation in the United States. The Forest Discovery Center commemorates conservation history with an 18 minute movie on Vanderbilt, Pinchot, Schenck and the beginning of forestry in America. Also in the Center is an interactive exhibit hall, The Giving Tree Gift Shop and the Forest Bounty Cafe. Outdoor activities include two guided trails which lead you back in time to seven historical buildings, a 1915 Climax logging locomotive and the old sawmill. Thursdays through Sundays you may find a toy maker, a weaver, a quilter, a wood carver and a basket maker.
Directions: From the Blue Ridge Parkway, take U.S. Highway 276 South at Milepost 412 for four miles. From Brevard, take 276 North about 15 miles.
Open mid April through October, daily 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Information desk: 828-877-3130
Web site: www.cradleofforestry.org