Wherever Vic and I travel, we study the area, searching for environmental stories. Our recent trip to Tennessee yielded a number of interesting tales about eastern forests.
First, we learned that the magnificent forest that we saw in Great Smoky Mountains National Park was fairly recent re-growth. The original forest had been almost all clear-cut by the lumber industry. By the time the park was created in 1934, 80% of the original forest was gone. The lumber went to build the rapidly growing cities of Memphis, Nashville, Indianapolis, Chicago, etc.
Most of the remaining 20% of the forest had been selectively cut, with only the steepest, most inaccessible portions left untouched. The venerable forest giants that would make you marvel at the magnificence of their height and girth were gone by the time the national park was created. While our visit there was a wonderful experience, the knowledge of what was no longer there was sad.