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'Beneath The Canopy' takes historical view Delaware forestry

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

A new book, titled “Beneath the Canopy: A Historical View of Forestry in Delaware” by Bob Tjaden and Walt Gabel, both former state foresters of Delaware, was recently released.

Tjaden is a native Delawarean and a forester. With an appreciation for Delaware’s forest history, he wrote this book with the late Gabel so others can realize the value of these forests and have historical information in one publication. The authors take the reader on a historical journey with photographs and written documents gathered from archival documents and interviews that are part of the Delaware Forest Oral History Project.

Delaware’s forests have provided materials for the production and manufacturing of many items, including ship building, paper making, charcoal production, holly wreath making, wooden basket and shingle manufacturing, gunpowder, pulpwood and lumber. During the 1920s, Laurel was the largest manufacturer of wooden bushel baskets and crates for fruits and vegetables. In the 1930s and 1940s, Milton was known as the “Holly Wreath Capital of the World,” shipping Christmas wreaths worldwide. The Pennsylvania Railroad had a special train at Christmas called the “Holly Express” to pick up and deliver wreaths throughout the region. Over the years, foresters, private landowners and forestry organizations have helped protect and manage Delaware’s forests and are highlighted in the book. There is also a chapter dedicated to the Great Cypress Swamp and its folklore.

The Delaware Forestry Department was established in 1927, with William S. Taber as state forester, to provide leadership for the protection and management of Delaware’s forests. During this time, forest fire lookout towers were erected, State Forests and a State Tree Nursery were established and a Civilian Conservation Corp camp was built at Redden Forest. The reader will also learn the role of the Forestry Department and Delaware’s wood products during World War II.

This 420-page book can be purchased in softcover at Amazon.com or hardcover at BarnesandNoble.com. Signed copies of the book, soft or hardcover, can be purchased directly from Tjaden by emailing tjaden1@comcast.net.