Almost everyday news accounts show video and still photos of entire towns devastated by wildfires. Terms like “largest in history,” or “a community destroyed by a wildfire,” are common as news reporters in yellow firefighter shirts stand before the cameras.
A hundred and twenty years ago the same kind of devastation was found in Pennsylvania.
But it doesn’t take a 300,000 acre fire to be significant. If it is your family, house, barn or place of employment that was burned, it is immaterial whether the fire burned a thousand acres or two acres. The fire was significant!
As the great forests of Pennsylvania were cleared, the slash and debris left by loggers was prone to burn – and it did! Huge fires once raged through the forest of Pennsylvania.
While certainly not on the scale of the fires that have burned across the American West in the recent years, the wildfires that have burned in Pennsylvania took lives, disrupted families and businesses, burned homes, farms and even entire towns.
The fires provided the impetus for the founding of the science of forestry and wildfire control in the Keystone State.
The Fires of Penn’s Woods is a detailed historical account of how fires –some quite large and some quite small-- impacted Pennsylvania and shaped what is today a sustainable forest that has regrown from the Great Pennsylvania Desert-- the land that was left after industrial logging virtually cleared the state of its trees by the beginning of the Twentieth Century.
Until now there has not been a comprehensive history that has documented wildfires in Pennsylvania to this extent. This thoroughly researched and meticulously detailed book describes how the science of forestry, wildfire prevention, and fire control has grown in Pennsylvania.
This book is a must read for firefighter, foresters and others with an interest in Pennsylvania history.
The author, Michael Klimkos is retired from the Department of Environmental Protection. For twenty-five years he was a volunteer firefighter and a member of wildland firefighting crews.
He has previously authored, A History of Trout Unlimited and the Environmental Movement: 1959 – 2000, (2003), and compiled and edited The Letort: A Limestone Legacy, (2015). He is the past editor of Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide magazine.
Mike is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association and the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association.
He writes from his home in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
The book is available through Amazon, as well as other retail booksellers. For information on how to obtain a signed copy, or find out where the author is doing a book signing or presentation, visit Michael Klimkos’ website.
PA Forest Heritage Association
Michael Klimkos is active in the PA Forest Heritage Association dedicated to preserving and showcasing the heritage of forest conservation and forest fire protection in Pennsylvania and is editor of its newsletter.
Visit the Discovery Center at Caledonia State Park in Franklin County to learn more about Pennsylvania’s forest fire fighting heritage.