Synchronize with the table of contents  INTRODUCTION



Unknown persons donated most of the papers forming this collection. John F. Douglas, Forest Supervisor, donated the San Isabel Forest Atlas in March 1963. R. Leavitt, Forest Supervisor, donated the Lolo land classification atlas folio and the Fremont Experiment Station folio in May 1963.


The collection is open for research.


The United States Forest Service Collection records are the physical property of the Denver Public Library.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.


[Identification of item], United States Forest Service Collection, CONS74, Conservation Collection, The Denver Public Library.


Number of Boxes: 46

Number of Audiovisual Boxes: 4

Number of Oversize: 5 OVBoxes; 1 OVFolio; 2 OVFolders

Number of Photo Boxes: 24; 24 Photo OV Boxes




Claudia Jensen and Kellen Cutsforth

September 2006

Revised June 2007, February 2011


Ellen Zazzarino


The Federal Forest Reserve Act created the national forests, first called forest reserves, in 1891. This act allowed the President to establish forest reserves from public domain lands, although during that time the purpose of the reserves remained a matter of debate. By 1897, Congress passed the Forest Management (Organic) Act, which defined the purpose of the reserves as watershed protection and to supply timber to the American people. Roughly 40 million acres had been set-aside at that time.

The Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture originally shared the administration of these lands. The Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry was established in 1880 and became the Bureau of Forestry in 1901. The administration of these lands was originally shared by the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture. The Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry was established in 1880 and became the Bureau of Forestry in 1901. Agriculture foresters provided technical management plans for the forest reserves. The Forest Reserve Manual of 1902 regulated timber use and grazing. The Department of the Interior administered the lands through the General Land Office from 1891 to 1901; then under Filbert Roth, the Interior Forestry Division managed the lands from 1901 to 1905 as its personnel patrolled the reserves.

In 1905, full jurisdiction of the reserves was transferred to the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Forestry was renamed the Forest Service. The Chief of the new Forest Service was Gifford Pinchot. In 1905, the forest reserves numbered 60 units covering 56 million acres. As of 2006, the United States has 155 national forests, 20 national grasslands, 222 research and experimental forests, as well as other special areas covering more than 192 million acres of public land.

The Forest Service is organized on four levels, from the most local Ranger District, to National Forest, to Regional Offices, to the Chief of the Forest Service who reports to the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment in the Department of Agriculture. The Forest Service now manages the national forests for multiple uses, including recreation, timber, wilderness, minerals, water, grazing, fish and wildlife.


The Forest Service collection was created in the early years (1960s) of the Conservation Library Center. It is an aggregate of materials sent to Arthur Carhart in response to his requests to friends from the Forest Service, and is composed of material covering several different aspects of Forest Service activities.

The bulk of material falls into three general categories. The first relates to the management of timber sales contracts, including the illegal cutting of trees (timber trespass), mining and homesteading claims. The second category includes the files related to white pine blister rust and the efforts to eradicate it and control its spread, primarily throughout the Eastern United States.

The foresters themselves comprise the third category, which includes daily work diaries, letterpress books and oral history recordings. The day-to-day activities of the foresters are recorded in considerable detail in their work diaries and their official communications are available in the letterpress books. The oral history tapes record the reminiscence of many of the men (and some of their wives) who made the Forest Service their career.

The following letters provide a glimpse into the world of the men who first worked in the National Forests and who struggled to enforce regulations for the use of some of our most important natural resources. The letters are also samples of some of the usual, and unusual information to be found in the material of this collection.

July 10, 1901

I have your letter ... of June 28 01 before me. I note that you state that the amount of $45.00 for horse hire and feed per month will not be allowed. This I have paid for Feb., Mar., April, May and June so the amount you disallow I will be compelled to stand out of my own salary.

You state that in the future I will be allowed $1.75 per day for hire and feed of horse, and only when actually used.

I don't know as I can get a horse at this price and only take him and count the time for actual use as you state; I know I cannot get the one I have been using in the past, unless I pay for him in the future, as in the past.

There are no livery stables nearer than Silver City, which is 85 miles, no one cares to rent a hose unless rented by the month.

Would the Department not allow me to purchase a horse and charge at the rate you state per day when actually needed to attend to my duties.?

I would not use him more than in the past, unless in case of fires or something special arising to look after, I certainly would not ride him unless necessary, as the hot sun here is not at all pleasant.

I think by economy, I could just about keep a horse on the amount you state; at least I would be willing to try it if you will allow me.

If this should be allowed, would a voucher be necessary? who would sign it if so?

Very respectfully
George Langenberg
Forest Supervisor
(Box 42, item 3, page 497-499, letter press book)

September 30, 1902

You are hereby notified that your application for Public Timber Sale Case No. 16, has been approved and sale awarded for 100,000 feet b.M. of green timber and 1,000 cords of green and dry wood, the sale of which was petitioned for by you.

... You will be required to pile the brush and refuse in compact piles in the open so that it can be burned without injury to the remaining growth. The tops of the trees must be used down to a diameter of three inches and the maximum height of the stumps is fixed at eighteen inches.

... The cutting and removing of this wood may begin at any time after the supervisor has been officially notified by the Receiver of Public Moneys of the receipt of the required advance deposit, $150.00.

R.C. McClure
Forest Supervisor
(Box 42, item 6, page 289, letter press book)

October 12, 1904

You are most respectfully advised that I am this day in receipt of a notice to the effect that you are maintaining and operating a saloon upon public lands within the Gila River Forest Reserve, New Mexico, located on the South half of Section 221, Township 10 South, Range 19 West, in what is known as Cooney Mining District.

You are hereby notified, requested and directed to close your saloon in ten days from the date of this notice so to do, and by the term "close your saloon" you are to understand that after the lapse of ten days from the date of this notice, you will not dispense liquors at your present place of business or elsewhere within the Gila River Forest Reserve, New Mexico.

Very respectfully,
R.C. McClure
Forest Supervisor
(Box 43, item 5, page 240, letter press book)

September 24, 1905
Mr. John J. Neylon
Forest Guard,

My dear Sir,

You are hereby detailed to accompany the 700 head of cattle across the Gila Reserve, permit for the temporary grazing of which has this day issued to Mr. Hugh McKeen of Benton, Arizona.
(Box 43, item 6, page 349, letter press book)



The material from the Black Hills National Forest deals primarily with monitoring of timber sales contracts and is organized around the area or the company obtaining the timber contract.

SERIES 2 COLORADO 1900-1981 BOX 5-6 :

The Colorado material is concerned primarily with mining claims, but also some homestead claims in the Leadville, Colorado area between 1907 and 1922. A portion of the Pike National Forest correspondence was sent to or from Henry Michelson or James Clarke, Forest Supervisors with the Department of the Interior General Land Office. At issue are the location of unauthorized fences and the cutting of timber. The correspondence dates from 1900 to 1906, is mostly handwritten and in very poor condition.


These files dating from 1945 to 1964 document trespass cases, primarily timber trespass, in the California National Forests. A few additional areas of trespass in the Black Hills National Forest date from 1905 to 1914.


This series deals with the White Pine Blister Rust, a fungal disease brought to the Eastern United States with white pine seedlings purchased for reforestation efforts from Europe. The disease was first noted in 1909 in Geneva, New York. The eradication program focused on eliminating the alternate host plant, ribes (currents and gooseberries). Included in this collection are annual reports by state and region, data sheets, conference reports and reference material about the disease and its effects.


The rangers working on the National Forests were required to keep detailed logs of their daily work. These logs present a unique opportunity to learn of the day-to-day activities of the rangers. Most of the logs date from 1903 to 1948, with the Six River National Forest diaries dating from 1957 to 1959. The bound letter press books are from the Gila River Forest Reserve, New Mexico and date from 1900 to 1905; the Gallatin National Forest, 1899-1906; and the Prescott National Forest from 1902 to 1903. They document the travel, report writing, official correspondence and the range riding required to monitor and administer activities on the National Forests.


This series is comprised of articles, reports, field data cards and press clippings about the Forest Service and its activities. It includes original section plats of the Florida National Forest in 1910, and World War II era committee minutes and reports of the Technical Sub-Committee on Wood Aircraft Structure. Reports of the inspection trips of A.D. Taylor, Consulting Landscape Architect, from 1935 and 1936 are found in two bound volumes and give detailed analysis of the forest reserves throughout the United States. Finally, a large collection of newspaper clippings organized by subject are included.

SERIES 7 ORAL HISTORIES 1962-1968 BOX 46, AV BOX 1-4 :

In the mid 1960, interviews were conducted with many former Forest Service Rangers, to record their stories of their early days in the Forest Service. These interviews were conducted by Chuck Aims, Arthur Carhart, Herb Schwan, A.R. Standing, and Bowling Yates. Carhart subsequently undertook the task of creating a subject guide to many of the tapes. These tapes and guides provide valuable insight into the early years of the Forest Service from the persons involved in carrying out the day-to-day work.

SERIES 8 OVERSIZE 1870-1958 OVBOX 1-5; OVFolio 1; OVFF 1 and OVFF 2 :

Five large binders contain detailed survey maps, land classification and tree distribution maps, and individual tree records for specific regions. The timber surveys include all National Forests. Scrapbooks of newspaper clippings of Forest Service activities from 1908-1912 and from 1950-1958 form a portion of the series.


While this extensive collection of Forest Service photographs and negatives covers a wide range of dates, most of the images date from the 1910s through the 1930s. The largest proportion of images are from the California National Forests and Colorado's Pike National Forest. They document conditions on the Forest Service lands, activities of the Rangers and public use of the land. Forest Service negative numbers are present on most of the images and have some description of persons or places. Several group photos are included of Forest Supervisors meetings.

Of particular note are the large albums created for use on specific trains to promote the Forest Service and the public lands they manage. In addition to the photographs, there are fifteen boxes of lantern slides accompanied by an index of typed transcriptions of each slide description, including place, photographer, and date. These slides primary depict soil and erosion control issues in the California area, though there are a few international slides. There are also slides of the construction of the road into Yosemite Valley in the early 1930s. The first group of lantern slides have U.S. Forest Service assigned numbers in front of the subject. These numbers are different from the negative number assigned each photograph.



  • United States. Forest Service -- Archives.
  • United States. Forest Service -- Officials and employees.
  • Black Hills National Forest (S.D. and Wyo.)
  • Blister rust -- United States.
  • Logging -- Black Hills National Forest (S.D. and Wyo.)
  • Forests and forestry -- Pictorial works.
  • Forest management -- Pictorial works.
  • Schwan, Herbert.