Gifford Pinchot and the Old Timers
by Bibi Gaston
In 2005, six tattered blue boxes were unearthed in the Library of Congress's Pinchot Collection
in Washington D.C. Inside were 5,000 pages of letters describing the work of early resource
conservation professionals. The boxes were labeled simply "The Old Timers." Penned between
the years 1937-1941 by the first class of American Forest Rangers to serve under President
Theodore Roosevelt and First Chief of the U.S. Forest Service Gifford Pinchot, the letters offer a
mirror to the America we once were, and a guidebook for the road ahead.
These narratives tell of extreme hardship, fearless struggle, confrontations with cattlemen,
miners, loggers, and the challenge of turning confrontations into cooperation and gratitude.
It wasn't an easy life by any means, but to these men and women, their life of service was the
best life they could imagine. To a one, they were grateful for the chance to live a meaningful life
in a time of struggle.
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