Advocating for the Forests

Clear cut above Profile House Rick Russack, WhiteMountainHistory.org

Clear cut above Profile House Rick Russack, WhiteMountainHistory.org

Advocates found the spark that would ignite the general public’s interest with the publication of the Rev. John E. Johnson’s rather lurid tale of The Boa Constrictor of the White Mountains; or the Worst Trust in the World in 1900. “Summer visitors to this section of the White Mountains have noticed the many deserted farms and dilapidated buildings and have wondered at such scenes, not dreaming that the cause was to be found in the operations of a company chartered to do it; that this desolation was due to the gradual tightening of the coils of a boa constrictor legalized to crush the human life out of these regions, preparatory to stripping them of their forests.” He blamed George James’ predatory New Hampshire Land Company, a large and rapacious timber company. “What is its object? To deforest and depopulate the region lying around the head waters of the Merrimack River in the heart of the White Mountains.” He asked that both state political parties unite “in an attempt to crush such an unmitigated outrage upon the rights of humanity.”

Paugus Valley, Albany—This area burned three times Rick Russack, WhiteMountainHistory.org

Paugus Valley, Albany—This area burned three times Rick Russack, WhiteMountainHistory.org

The New England Homestead, a magazine found in the home of almost every New England farmer, spread the news and let readers know that:

The state of New Hampshire is facing a crisis. The destruction of the forests has reached a point where the very source of her wealth and the most potent factor in the economic life of her people is threatened a blow beyond reparation. She is in the grip of the lumbermen and land speculators, and whether or not she will free herself is of vital concern, not only to herself but to the great manufacturing interests centering along the Merrimac river in Massachusetts and to that vast body of people at large who turn to the White Mountains in quest of health and recreation.… Talk alone cuts no figure. The lumber barons are united as one man. The vast public, if united as one man, can easily secure justice. Protest, long and loud, is well enough, but let us organize so as to make protest effective. … Instant action is imperative.

The next week, the Homestead printed a membership application “To save New England’s farms, homes and industries” and the editorial column was full of letters of support. The public was solidly behind the project.

1903 Fire at Zealand Rick Russack, WhiteMountainHistory.org

1903 Fire at Zealand Rick Russack, WhiteMountainHistory.org