The CUNNINGHAM FALLS STATE|
PARK WILDLAND (CFSPW)
DOCUMENTS and PHOTOGRAPHS, 1968-1980
Cat Rock and Bob's Hill National Area,
Frederick County, MD, USA
by El Penski
Black Eyed Susan Near Isobel Rock, 1973
From the late 1930s until the early 1950s, I grew up in Catonsville Manor,
an old undeveloped subdivision that had only a few houses on many lots;
and it was surrounded by
stunning farms, century old big estates and old forests. Fortunately, I grew up in a
square mile or so niche that had been spared from loggers for a long time.
Just beyond, a mile or two away, were Leakin Park, Patapsco State Park, and Gwynns Falls Park.
Thus, as a child, I fell in love with beautiful old forests,
undisturbed streams and century old buildings, but when I had returned to
Catonsville Manor in 1964, after a big building boom and a decade of college,
military service and travel; that square mile area was completely developed.
Most of my treasured places were all destroyed without leaving a trace except the parks.
Thus, in 1965, I started hiking with the Mountain Club of Maryland (MCM)
to re-experience the feelings of my childhood. I led many hikes and canoe trips for
the Mountain Club of Maryland and went on a lot more trips to hike, ski, camp, swim,
and canoe with the MCM, which operated out of Baltimore, with the Washington D.C.
hiking clubs, and with the Maryland Conservation Council.
After several years, I got to know the forests well in the Middle Atlantic Region.
"Nothing is more beautiful than the loveliness of the woods before sunrise."
George Washington Carver1
In the early 1800s most factories were powered by from water wheels. Heat was obtained from burning wood.
Also, wood was the main material to make things: wagons, water wheels, furniture, houses,
barns, plows, barrels, fences, charcoal, etc. Thus, as a result, almost all forests in the Middle Atlantic Region were cut
down every 30 years or so. Often both Native Americans and Europeans burned
about 30 acres of forest land to improve berry growth2 or to increase
the numbers of wild animals for hunting.
In 1859, in a very well documented village in a rural area, Rindge, New Hampshire, there
were only 1,274 residents in the village, but there were
industries including three gristmills, thirteen sawmills, thirteen shingle mills, six stave mills (Stave is a narrow strip
of wood for barrels, tubs, ladder, chairs, pipes, etc.),
two planning mills, and several clapboard mills all powered by water.3 As another example,
during the Great Depression in the 1930s, my father made his living in the winter mainly by cutting down forests,
cutting it to firewood size and
delivering it to the people of Baltimore and vicinity — see photograph below.
Sometimes, he provided employment for several other people. It was hard, dangerous, and cold work in winter.
Wood and coal burning was almost totally replaced by
more convenient and cleaner gas and oil after WWII.
My Father during the Great Depression
cutting firewood for heating
Somewhere along the way, I became aware that preservation is a severe problem. Thus, I became
a lifelong preservationist of
information, wildlife, historic buildings, and old forests believing if we
do not know where we have been, we will not have sound wisdom in making important decisions.
Our ancestors came from the forests at some time in their history.
Through my long life, I have learned that history and archeology are extremely
biased against wet forest regions and forest people compared to dry deserts and
— everything decomposes in forests quickly whereas in deserts artifacts and documents are
preserved for millenniums. Thus historians and archaeologists have no choice but to ignore forest
history and forest people.4
Thus, not only were mature forests very rare, but at times and at various places
overharvesting of wood made wood
become very expensive and scarce. About 90% of Americans lived on farms in the early 1800s,
and in the cold evenings, families, extended families and employees crowded
around the kitchen stove or fireplace to keep warm,
eat, drink, talk, read, and learn. Thus, scarcity of entertainment and of
firewood made families more cohesive and better educated.
Many forest managers or forest owners have never seen an old forest or
thought about old forests. Some people in other countries where forests grew a few centuries ago
have never seen a forest. Some professionals do not
like old, dying and dead trees and believe forestry is growing a healthy crop for optimum
harvest. Some experts think clear cutting can make forests healthier or can limit
forest fires — they might be right in some cases.
Other "experts" think they know more minutiae than hundreds of millions years of
evolution could provide and recorded in nature.
On the other hand, I think it is essential for humankind to renew
its acquaintance with old forests to enjoy the beauty, to
avoid eliminating any species and keeping avenues open for research. Old, dying and dead trees
make all kinds of beneficial wildlife habitat for rare species. For example, "The northern
owl is associated with large tracts of old forests habitat" for nesting.5
Many modern medicines are just purer synthetic
versions, refined natural versions or slightly modified versions of rare chemicals found in nature.
For example, "Researchers have struggled over the years to find a cure for AIDS,
and while an effective HIV vaccine has eluded them . . .
But now new research finds that llamas, of all things,
may hold the key to combating this fatal disease.
"Specifically, a combination of antibodies from llamas can
destroy - or neutralize - a wide range of circulating HIV viruses . . ."6
We are losing effectiveness of antibiotics from overuse. It might surprise us, many
times, if we find very good solutions to many medical problems in rare insects, animals and plants.
Consequently, it is tremendously essential to try
to preserve some examples of our old forests.
Mettler's Woods, New Jersey, is reputed to be a small primeval forest,
the only one of its size east of the Mississippi River. The
documented history of Mettler's Woods begins in 1701 when the area
was acquired by a group of Dutch settlers. It was not cut by descendants
of the settlers. The average age of living white oak trees in the forest
is 235 years. Some trees that died in the past two decades have been
350 years old. Mettler's Woods is "known worldwide for long-term
ecological, botanical and zoological research" resulting in "250
2 Hickey, Charles, J. II, The Vascular Flora of
Catoctin Mountain Park, Frederick County, MD
, Thesis, Towson State College, November 1975.
3 Coolidge, Austin J., and Mansfield, John B., A History and Description of
New England, Boston, Massachusetts, pages 632Ė633, 1859.
4 Barnhart, E., Lost Worlds of South America,
The Great Courses, Chantilly, VA, 2012.
5 Ripple, W.J., Johnson, D.H., Hershey, K.T., and Meslow, E.C., Old-growth
and mature forests near spotted owl nests in western Oregon,
The Journal of Wildlife Management, JSTOR, 55(2), page 316, 1991.
Iacurci, Jenna, Llamas May Hold the Key to Combating AIDS,
Nature World News, Dec 19, 2014, NatureWN.com.
7 Mettler's Woods, William L. Hutcheson Memorial Forest, Rutgers University,
http://rci.rutgers.edu/~hmforest, Accessed September 8, 2014.
Bob's Hill and Cat Rock Area Trail Map, 1973
Clear Cut Example in Virginia, 1970s
Dump at the Base of Bob's Hill, 1974
Thurmont Water Shed on the Side of Cat Rock, by El Penski, June 1973
All of the photographs included in all the pages of this website
were submitted with some documents to the State of Maryland
in about 1980 to help with the management and legislation and later were returned to me,
the picture of my father. Now, I am making
those documentation and photographs available to the public here in this website. Most of the photographs
were taken by me. A few were taken by my wife, Betty, the State of Maryland,
and Mountain Club of Maryland Volunteers. I took all the aerial photographs.
This website was programmed in HTML by me.