04-24-2009, 12:58 AM
About that World Champianship Contest
Dear fellow members,
Regarding my concerns about holding a fishing tournament on Pennsylvania's Spring Creek During the Fall Spawning of wild brown trout, I would like to provide some history on the area.
Unlike many if not all Western states Pennsylvania suffered greatly during the industrialization of America. With coal mining and its drainage poisoning many streams and the age of the lumber Barron's being two major contributors to the thoughtless desecration of the land.
The results of the clear cutting practiced buy those people who built great fortunes while destroying the habitat were many. Soil degradation and massive erosion was just the beginning. Even moderate rain storms created an enormous amount of silt entering almost every watershed in the state. The silt soon filled the gravel bottoms of the areas freestone streams and rivers with a life suffocating muck. The once abundant spawning trout and huge shad runs quickly came to an end. Here is a short horror story about the timber industry in Pennsylvania.
The Rise of the Pennsylvania Lumber Era;
The Pennsylvania lumber industry became a massive enterprise beginning in the middle part of the 1800s. Experienced lumbermen from New England like John Leighton and James Perkins arrived at Williamsport along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in 1846. They oversaw the construction of the Susquehanna Boom. A boom is a chain or line of connected floating timbers extended across a river, lake, or harbor (to obstruct passage or catch floating objects). The Susquehanna Boom was in operation for over 50 years and it processed over 5.5 billion board feet (13 million m³) of lumber from 1861 to 1891, which led to Williamsport having more millionaires per capita than any other city at the time. The introduction of the steam engine train to the mountains of Pennsylvania brought about another change in Pennsylvania's lumber industry. The white pine forests had been largely harvested by this time and the lumbermen now sought to gather the vast stands of hemlock. Railroad companies like the Jersey Shore, Pine Creek, and Buffalo Railways formed and built tracks into parts of the mountains that had been previously impossible or too difficult to access. The railroads were able to remove more trees faster than the old system floating logs downs creeks and rivers. As a result the decline of the old growth forest was increased. In addition to rapidly removing the timber sparks and embers tossed out by the passing steam engines would land on the side of the railroads. These sparks set off massive forest fires that devastated the saplings that had risen up to take the place of the old growth forests. The beginning of the end of the lumber industry in Pennsylvania had arrived with the steam trains and other steam powered equipment, but this was not before the rise of many lumber "boom towns" that once peppered the Pennsylvania mountains.
The Beaver Mill Lumber Company in Center County became one of the largest single lumber operations in all of Pennsylvania. Beaver Mills and Antes, two lumber boom towns, dramatically changed the landscape in the Black Moshannon Area in Centre County. Beaver ponds were wiped out by mill ponds, built to serve the needs of Beaver Mills and Antes. Both communities featured a large general store, blacksmith shops, a livery, taverns, schools and even a ten pin bowling alley. The school is still standing today. The area helped to meet the nation's need for timber in mining operations, construction and export.
This boom era was not to last, and by the 1920s all the trees were gone. Once the trees disappeared, the people were soon to follow. They moved to West Virginia and the Great Lakes States. The lumbermen left behind a barren landscape that was devastated by erosion and wildfires. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania bought the thousands of acres of deforested and burned land from the lumber companies. The state began the massive project of reforesting the land with the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps. The old growth forests of hemlock and white pine have been replaced by a thriving second growth forest of hardwoods.
I grew up in a place and time where and when the recovery was starting to occur. I saw the return of fisheries and of wild trout and am in no way ready to set back and watch while people exploit the spawning season on one of the states premier creeks on ESPN!