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Documentary Films Available from the Forest History Society

The Forest History Society has produced two films on the history of log moving and fire fighting technology and contributed to the creation of a thought-provoking film history of the U.S. Forest Service. Descriptions of these award-winning films are provided below. For additional information contact Andrea Anderson.

Order Online or print an order form [PDF].

Americas First Forest DVD

America's First Forest: Carl Schenck and the Asheville Experiment

America's First Forest: Carl Schenck and the Asheville Experiment tells the story of how Carl Schenck, a German forester, came to America in 1895 to manage the forests at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. He not only helped restore the land there, he established the country’s first forestry school and helped launch the American conservation movement. Included are the 55-minute broadcast version of America’s First Forest AND the 25-minute film, First in Forestry: Carl Alwin Schenck and the Biltmore Forest School, an adapted version of America’s First Forest that focuses on Carl Schenck and the Biltmore Forest School. The DVD retails for $24.95; the public screening kit costs $150. Buy Carl Schenck's memoir Cradle of Forestry in America: Biltmore Forest School, 1898-1913 with the film and save!

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Up In Flames documentary film

Up in Flames: A History of Fire Fighting in the Forest

Up in Flames documents the development of North American fire detection, communication, and fire suppression technology from the inception of the lookout tower to the weather satellite. Historical footage shows the devastation of fires such as Idaho's 1910 Big Blowup and Oregon's 1933 Tillamook Burn. The impact of these catastrophic fires on the research and development of fire fighting technology is illustrated with scenes of hand tool use, fire plows, aerial tankers, and smokejumping. The multi-agency Operation Firestop in 1954 is highlighted as an example of the cooperative nature of the research and development effort. Vester Dick edited and produced Up in Flames in 1984. The narrated film runs 29 minutes, with segments in black and white and color. Copies are available at a cost of $25.00 for VHS, $20.00 for DVD, or $75.00 for Betacam SP plus shipping.

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Timber on the Move documentary film

Timber on the Move: A History of Log Moving Technology

Timber on the Move documents the development of log moving technology and its impact on the land—from the use of oxen in colonial New Hampshire to the introduction of helicopter and balloon yarding in the 1970s in the Pacific Northwest. It includes historical footage of river drives, big wheels, the steam donkey engine, logging railroads, steam loaders, the Lombard log hauler, and early crawler tractors and fairlead arches. Produced and edited by Vester Dick in 1981, the award-winning narrated film runs 34 minutes, with segments in color and black and white. Copies are available at a cost of $25.00 for VHS, $20.00 for DVD, or $90.00 for Betacam SP plus shipping.

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The People’s Forest documentary film

The People’s Forest: The Story of the White Mountain National Forest

From 1880 to 1911, the White Mountains region was becoming an ecological disaster caused by intensive, indiscriminate logging and a rash of major forest fires. The destruction of New Hampshire’s forests sparked one of the nation’s first grassroots conservation movements and set off a decades-long national battle over the fate of eastern forestlands. Leading the way was a unique partnership of private citizens and business and civic groups that believed conservation could benefit both the environment and economy. The result was the Weeks Act of 1911, a groundbreaking piece of conservation legislation that enabled the federal government, for the first time, to purchase private land to protect vital watersheds and forests. The Weeks Act had a major, enduring impact on the landscape not only of New Hampshire, but the rest of the country as well. The Weeks Act led to the creation of fifty-two national forests and grasslands spread across forty-one states – a total of twenty million acres. Copies are available at a cost of $20.00 for DVD plus shipping.

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The Greatest Good film

The Greatest Good: A Forest Service Centennial Film

The Greatest Good tells the story of the U.S. Forest Service and the public lands the agency manages. Produced by the U.S. Forest Service and distributed by the Forest History Society, the film weaves historic footage and still photographs with interviews with historians, timber industry and environmental leaders, and Forest Service employees to illuminate the past one hundred years of accomplishments and controversies experienced while managing 191 million acres of America's land. Throughout the film, the question is asked: what is the greatest good?

Narrated by Charles Osgood, the two-hour film is part of a 3-disc DVD set. Order the DVD and Book together and save!

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