There is an interesting booklet about the Berea College Forest that many readers may have seen called the “Century of Forestry” that was put together by the former College Forester, John Perry. It has some very nice historic photos, and most of the text remains Johns. I have updated and reprinted it a couple of times; mostly changing the map to reflect new land purchases and personnel. I am in the process of giving the booklet a major updating in the near future, though, so it will reflect some of the more recent accomplishments over the last few years…such as the Deep Green Residence Hall, Mayflower II restoration, and the Carbon Project.
The new booklet will also receive a few new tidbits of historic information that I have gleaned from reading an older booklet… really more of a book… about Berea College and its Forest called “Glimpses of Kentucky”. This rather extensive account was written by another former Berea College Forester, John F. King. Mr. King researched the activities of the Berea College Forest and included information and occurrences chronologically from the first Forester, Silas Mason; up through each forester all the way to John Perry as he was beginning his position twenty-one years ago. I may see if this booklet can also be made available online.
One interesting story that was related is about Silas Mason soon after he had arrived at Berea. He is credited with having quickly gained the respect of men throughout the area when;, as he was on his way out to the College Forest, he happened upon a group of “mountain men” having a shooting match. The men insisted that he give it a try, and demonstrated that they expected him lay down on his belly to shoot as they were doing. Mason tried to get out of it, but they would not relent, so he took a gun from one of the men and hurriedly took a shot from a standing position. His shot knocked the center out of the target, and he rushed away thinking he could never do that again! The mountain men of the area had great respect for anyone with good marksmanship, and readily accepted him after that.
Another rather humorous story featured in the book was published by the Berea Citizen in 1959. The story is a brief account of former College Forester David Rock and his assistant Ernest Sawyer (how’s that for a name of someone who works in the woods!?) coming across a 45-inch rattlesnake in Cowbell Hollow. They saw the snake coiled and ready to strike as they were estimating timber. The account describes how they jumped a considerable distance when they saw it, but ended up killing it. When asked who killed it, Rock replied “We took turns hitting it”.
The book contains some interesting data, as well as stories. One bit of data that stood out to me was that over the ten year period from 1960 to 1970, six million board feet of timber was harvested over 4,370 acres of the Berea College Forest. In 1992, Mr. King describes these areas… which include nearly all of the Indian Fort trails area as well as most of the land you can see across the highway from Indian Fort as “difficult to tell that any harvesting occurred”. Remarkably, when comparing the volume figures of the forest taken in 1971 to our most recent inventory taken in 2011, these areas have more than doubled in timber volume.