Sunday, October 31, 2010

a comeback for the American chestnut

From the Washington Post and today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: The mighty American chestnut tree, poised for a comeback
By Juliet Eilperin
If the Chestnut is restored to the American forest, the Ozark chinkapin will not be far behind. In the photo at left,
"An American chestnut emerges from the spiny bur of a surviving chestnut tree in this undated photograph released by the American Chestnut Foundation. A century after blight began to bring down the American chestnut tree, once known as the "redwood of the East," scientists are tantalizingly close to reviving the majestic species. Within a few years, using both traditional plant breeding and genetic engineering, researchers hope to have a variety of blight-resistant chestnuts to repopulate the tree's native range." (Photo Anonymous - Courtesy of The American Chestnut Foundation)
Two men are shown with five American chestnut trees in the foreground of this photograph taken in the early 1900s near Townsend, Tenn. in what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Chestnuts have been called "the Redwoods of the East." But a blight wiped out 3.5 billion chestnuts from Maine to Mississippi a half century ago. (Great Smoky Mountains NP - Courtesy of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Library)
Today, the Ozark Chinkapin is still alive, but never able to reach an age to reproduce due to the virus that eliminated it from most of its range. All woodworkers will rejoice to see (One hundred years from now) the restoration of this wonderful tree to our American forests.

On another subject, Elliot Washor of the Big Picture Company sent me an article about our hands conference at the Maker Faire in Dearborn this summer. The illustration by Rachel Brian above is from that conference. Being from Eureka Springs, and with the conference being about heuristic learning, I told the story of Archimedes running through the streets proclaiming "Eureka." All schools and all learning and growth should be at the heuristic level, that of discovery, and each school should consist of laboratories and workshops for self discovery, leading to such excitement that each student, like Archimedes would overcome his or her inhibitions in sharing it the world. What if children were to arrive home each afternoon, wanting to share what they had discovered in school? I am lucky to live in Eureka Springs and to have the Eureka moment evolve continuously in my work, and thanks to this blog, I can tell what I've learned without running naked in the streets.

In the photo at left, you can see a bit more progress on my cherry wall hung display cabinet, the addition of a lighter colored interior. The wood is basswood, 1/8 inch thick. While the cherry will grow very dark in the coming years, the basswood will remain a lighter color, keeping the interior from becoming overly dark.


  1. Anonymous12:56 PM

    There's a lot going on in this one blog post. Nice work on the cabinet. The idea of the contrasting wood inside is great.


  2. There is a lot going on. the chestnut restoration interests me. I had seen photos of white oak logs harvested from the bottom lands of the Arkansas River that nearly rivaled redwoods in size. I know you've been into the Smokies where You've seen poplars so large you and several friends can't reach around. We lost so much when our ancestors forgot the majesty of our forests and decided amongst themselves to cut it all down for profit.