In Pisgah Forest
We’re back in the Appalachians Mountains. This morning we drive through Pisgah Forest, where there’s more waterfalls. This land is the cradle of the forestry in America. Back in 1889, George W. Vanderbilt II built himself a massive castle on a hill south of Asheville. He had the gardens designed by Olmsted, the creator of Central Park, who advised on restoring the forest around the mansion. This commercial forest had been completely cleared, so Vanderbilt hired forester Carl A Schenck out of Germany to remedy the problem. The European was shocked to see how the land had been shaved without any concern for the ecosystems. He studied the hundreds of species he didn’t know, worked to replant the trees while catering to the locals’s need for timber. He started silviculture in America, and everywhere in the country people wanted to understand his process and to hire him. They were all asking questions, “why do you cut this tree and not this one?”. So Schenck founded the Biltmore school of forestry, the first in America. We visit the grounds today, with recreated buildings. The pupils, future foresters, were listening to Schenck all morning in the classroom and after lunch, they were all hopping on a horse and following him in the forest. Schenck resigned and closed the school when Vanderbilt was putting pressure on him to make more money from the timber, but his legacy lives on in the US.
Leaving the Pisgah Forest we head to Waterrock knob, a summit in the Appalachians, and our starting point on the Blue ridge parkway. From there we can see the Great Smoky Mountains, where we were a few weeks earlier. The Blue ridge parkway is a 469 miles scenic drive along the Appalachian mountains. Today we drive less than 40 miles from Waterrock knob back to Pisgah Forest. We will be driving only half of it, the North Carolina part which is meant to be the best.