Historical Markers
Gifford Pinchot [Environment] Historical Marker
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Gifford Pinchot [Environment]

Poconos / Endless Mountains


Marker Location:
US 6 NW of Milford

Dedication Date:
June 1, 1949

Behind the Marker

                     "The care of the forests is marker the duty of the nation."
                           -Gifford Pinchot, 1891
Gifford Pinchot, 1909.

Born in the year that the Civil War ended, Gifford Pinchot was educated in the finest private schools of Paris and New York City. Just before he went off to college at Yale, his father, James, asked him a strange question: "How would you like to be a forester?"

In 1885, forestry as a profession did not exist in the United States, and to get any training one had to study in Europe. But James had grown increasingly disturbed by the barren hills and valleys that covered northeastern Pennsylvania, and the role that he and his family had played in creating these empty landscapes, for the Pinchots had made their fortune in land speculation and the timber business.

In the summer of 1889, Pinchot went to Europe where he studied in forestry schools in France, Switzerland and Germany. In 1892 he was hired by George Vanderbilt to manage the 3,400 acres of forest that surrounded his Biltmore estate in North Carolina. There, Pinchot introduced the principles of scientific forestry management to the United States. Six years later he accepted appointment as forester in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and helped lead the national campaign for the conservation and rational use of the nation's forests. In 1905 Pinchot became head of the new United States Forest Service. Working with President Theodore Roosevelt, he played a major role in shaping American conservation policy and significantly expanding the nation's western forest reserves.
Governor Pinchot, dressed in a suit, is flanked on either side by farmers, many dressed in overalls and carrying scythes.
Governor Pinchot, dressed in a suit, is flanked on either side by farmers, many...

These were tremendous accomplishments, but Pinchot realized early on that the nation needed "American foresters trained by Americans in American ways for the work ahead in American forests." By the early 1890s, he was sharing with his father the idea of establishing an American forestry school. In 1900 the Pinchots gave $150,000 to Yale University to start the first professional forestry program in the United States. They also offered the 1,700-acre woods surrounding Grey Towers, their Milford estate, for a summer school for the Yale students. Today, Grey Towers is a National Historic Landmark administered by the U.S Forest Service.

James Pinchot constructed dormitories, a library and classroom, and in 1903, the Milford Experimental Station received its first students. Over the next twenty-six years Milford would educate more than 500 Yale forestry students, many of whom would go on to work in the federal government and direct the American forestry movement for decades to come. Indeed, the first five chief foresters of the United States would all be graduates of the Yale School of Forestry.

After leaving the U.S. Forest Service in 1910, Pinchot enjoyed a long and productive career that included two years as the Pennsylvania Commissioner of Forestry and two terms as governor of Pennsylvania. In the end, however, it was for his work in forestry that Pinchot hoped to be remembered. "I have... been a governor every now and then," Pinchot wrote in his memoirs, "but I am a forester all the time."

To learn more about Pinchot's first term as governor from 1923 to 1927 markerclick here.

To learn more about Pinchot's second term as governor from 1931 to 1935 markerclick here.
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