Abstract

In the second half of the nineteenth century, lumbermen logged the virgin pine forests of northern Michigan. The assumption was that the u plow would follow the axe, "and agriculture would dominate the region as it did in the southern half of the state. When farming did not quickly take root, William James Beai and Liberty Hyde Bailey led an expedition of scientists and journalists on a trip across northern Michigan in June 1888 to collect botanical samples, to find a site for a state forest reserve, and to recommend appropriate farming enterprises. This essay contends that without a key reforestation advocate in Charles Garfield the explorers focused too much on the questions related to botany and agriculture. While agriculture would ultimately thrive in some parts of the cutover, much of the region was unsuitable for intensive farming. The failure of the scientists to convey these limits adequately in newspaper articles and subsequent reports allowed for their work to be used by agricultural boosters throughout the region. The result was a cycle of erosion, fire, and farm abandonment that proved to be a political problem in Michigan for the first three decades of the twentieth century.

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NOTES

1 Rolland H. Maybee, Michigan’s White Pine Era, 1840-1900 (Lansing: Michigan Historical Commission, 1960);
Charles E. Twining, "The Lumbering Frontier," in The Great Lakes Forest: An Environmental and Social History, ed. Susan L. Flader (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983), 121-36;
Mark E. Neithercut, "The White Pine Industry and the Transformation of Nineteenth-Century Michigan" (PhD diss., University of British Columbia, 1984);
Michael Williams, Americans and Their Forests: A Historical Geography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 193-237;
Barbara E. Benson, Logs and Lumber: The Development of the Lumber Industry in Michigan ’s Lower Peninsula, 1837-1870 (Mount Pleasant, Mich.: Clarke Historical Library, 1989);
William Cronon, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1991), 148-206.
2 Alan I Marcus, Agricultural Science and the Quest for Legitimacy: Farmers, Agricultural Colleges, and Experiment Stations, 1870-1890 (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1985).
Edwin Willits, "Report of the Director of the Experiment Station," 1888 State Board of Agriculture Report (Lansing: Thorp & Godfrey, 1888), 144-45.
Edward G. Voss and Garrett E. Crow, "Across Michigan by Covered Wagon: A Botanical Expedition in 1888," Michigan Botanist 15 (Jan. 1976): 3-70
David Thomas "A Fortnight in Michigan’s Forests," Michigan History 72 (July/Aug. 1988): 36-43.
William J. Beal, History of the Michigan Agricultural College and Biographical Sketch of Trustees and Professors (East Lansing: Agricultural College, 1915), 87;
Fisher, "A Scientific Expedition," Detroit Free Press, June 13, 1888, 4;
William J. Beal, "The Horticulture Problems of Northern Michigan," 1888 Michigan State Horticulture Society Report (Lansing: Thorp, 1889), 49-59;
William J. Beal, "Report of the Independent Forestry Commission," 1888 Michigan Board of Agriculture Report (Lansing: Thorp & Godfrey, 1888), 70-135;
William J. Beal "Report of the Botanist," 1888 State Board of Agriculture Report (Lansing: Thorp & Godfrey, 1888), 171-93.
3 Roy V. Scott, The Reluctant Farmer: The Rise of Agricultural Extension to 1914 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1970);
David Noble, America by Design: Science, Technology, and the Rise of Corporate Capitalism (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977);
David B. Danbom, The Resisted Revolution: Urban America and the Industrialization of Agriculture, 1900-1930 (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1979);
Marcus, Agricultural Science and the Quest for Legitimacy;
Pete Daniel, Breaking the Land: The Transformation of Cotton, Tobacco, and Rice Cultures since 1880 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1985);
Jack R. Kloppenberg, Jr., First the Seed: The Political Economy of Plant Biotechnology, 1492-2000, 2 nd ed. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004).
How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 1-6, 286-87.
4 Donald Worster, Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s (New York: Oxford Press, 1979);
Mark V. Wetherington, The New South Comes to Wiregrass Georgia, 1860-1910 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1994);
Ted Steinberg, Slide Mountain, or, The Folly of Owning Nature (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995);
Robert J. Gough, Farming the Cutover: A Social History of Northern Wisconsin, 1900-1940 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1997);
Ted Steinberg, Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disaster in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000);
Robert B. Outland III, Tapping the Pines: The Naval Stores Industry in the American South (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2004);
Sarah T. Phillips, This Land, This Nation: Conservation, Rural America, and the New Deal (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
Thomas A. Lyson and William W. Falk, eds., Forgotten Places: Uneven Development in Rural America (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1993)
William P. Browne, The Failure of National Rural Policy: Institutions and Interests (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2001).
5 George E. Steele, "Experiences in Northern Michigan," Michigan and Its Resources (Lansing: W. S. George & Co., 1881), 124-31.
Beal, "Report of the Independent Forestry Commission," 1888 Michigan Board of Agriculture Report, 71.
6 Fisher, "A Scientific Expedition," 4 and H. Parish, "With Howling Wolves," Detroit Tribune, June 13, 1888, 3.
Liberty Hyde Bailey, "In the Wild Woods," Detroit Free Press, June 21, 1888, 4 and Beal, "The Horticulture Problems of Northern Michigan," 56-57.
7 Ray Stannard Baker and Jessie Beal Baker, An American Pioneer in Science: The Life and Service of William James Beal (Amherst: privately published, 1925).
Beal, History of the Michigan Agricultural College. Other biographical information on Beal can be found in Clifford W. McKibbin, "William James Beal, Michigan’s Pioneer Forester," American Forests and Forest Life 30 (Apr. 1924): 216-17;
David Thomas, "’Keep on Squintin": The Life of William James Beal," Michigan History 68 (July/Aug. 1984): 16-23.
Mary Emily Schroeder, The Charles W. Garfield Story (Grand Rapids: privately published, 1977).
8 Denny Rodgers, Liberty Hyde Bailey: A Story of American Plant Sciences (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949);
Philip Dorf, Liberty Hyde Bailey: An informal Biography (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1956).
Margaret Beattie Bogue, "Liberty Hyde Bailey, Jr. and the Bailey Family Farm," Agricultural History 63 (Winter 1989): 26-48;
Scott J. Peters, "’Every Farmer Should Be Awakened’: Liberty Hyde Bailey’s Vision of Agricultural Extension Work," Agricultural History 80 (Spring 2006): 190-219;
Ben A. Minteer, The Landscape of Reform: Civic Pragmatism and Environmental Thought in America (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006), 17-50.
9 W. F. Wight, "Charles Fay Wheeler," Science 32 (July 1, 1910): 72-75;
Voss and Crow, "Across Michigan by Covered Wagon," 6;
Beal, "Report of the Botanist," 1888 State Board of Agriculture Report, 186-88.
10 Beal, History of the Michigan Agricultural College, 88;
Voss and Crow, "Across Michigan by Covered Wagon," 7-8, 32, 61.
11 Fisher, "A Dairyman’s Paradise," Detroit Free Press, June 14, 1888, 7;
Bailey, "In the Wild Woods," 4.
12 Voss and Crow, "Across Michigan by Covered Wagon," 11-15;
Thomas, "A Fortnight in Michigan’s Forests," 37-38;
Beal, "Report of the Botanist," 179-93.
13 Beal, "Report of the Independent Forestry Commission," 1888 Michigan Board of Agriculture Report, 79, 128;
Fisher, "A Scientific Expedition," 4;
Parish, "With Howling Wolves," 3.
14 Parish, "With Howling Wolves," 3;
H. Parish, "Off for Pine Barrens," Detroit Tribune, June 14, 1888, 3;
Fisher, "A Dairyman’s Paradise," 7;
Fisher, "In the Pine Woods," Detroit Free Press, June 16, 1888, 4.
15 Lyster H. Dewey, "Forestry Expedition across Michigan in 1888," Nov. 4, 1939, MS, Beal Botanical Expedition Collection, University Archives and Historical Collections, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.;
Fisher, "In the Great Pine Barrens," Detroit Free Press, June 17, 1888, 12.
16 Fisher, "In the Great Pine Barrens," 12;
Parish, "Off for Pine Barrens," 3.
17 Bailey, "A Barren Waste," 4.
18 H. Parish, "In Jack Pine Plains," Detroit Tribune, June 18, 1888, 4.
Charts of Michigan," 1889 State Board of Agriculture Report (Lansing: Darius D. Thorp, 1889), 175-205;
Bailey, "A Barren Waste," 4.
19 Bailey, "A Barren Waste," 4;
Bailey, "In the Wild Woods," 4.
21 Bailey, "In the Wild Woods," 4;
Liberty Hyde Bailey, "Still in the Forest," Detroit Free Press, June 23, 1888, 7;
H. Parish, "Scientific Wanderers," Detroit Tribune, June 21, 1888, 8;
William J. Beal, "Forest Fires," 1888 State Board of Agriculture Report, 72-74.
Stephen J. Pyne, Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997), 183-211.
22 Dewey A. Seeley, "The Climate of Michigan & Its Relation to Agriculture" (master’s thesis, Michigan Agricultural College, 1917);
Lew Allen Chase, Rural Michigan (New York: Macmillan, 1922), 16-31;
Val L. Eichenlaub, et al., The Climatic Atlas of Michigan (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1990), 1-6, 58-66, 76-83.
23 Beal, "Report of the Botanist," 188-90.
24 Willits, "Report of the Director of the Experiment Station," 1888 State Board of Agriculture Report, 144-45.
Parish, "In Jack Pine Plains," 4.
Bailey, "A Barren Waste," 4.
25 William J. Beal, "Experiment Station Bulletin No. 54 -Botanical Department," 1889 State Board of Agriculture Report, 325-27;
Aaron Shapiro, "Promoting Cloverland: Regional Associations, State Agencies, and the Creation of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Tourist Industry," Michigan Historical Review 29 (Spring 2003): 1-37;
Oscar Clute, "Report of the Chemist of the Experiment Station for 1888-89," 1889 State Board of Agriculture Report, 78-82;
Steven Stoll, Larding the Lean Earth: Soil and Society in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Hill and Wang, 2002), 25-73,
26 Beal, "Report of the Botanist," 188-90.
27 Bailey, "A Barren Waste," 4;
Bailey, "In the Wild Woods," 4;
Bailey, "Still in the Forest," 7;
Beal, "Report of the Botanist," 171-93;
Beal, "The Horticulture Problems of Northern Michigan," 49-59.
Stoll, Larding the Lean Earth, 108-15,
28 Beal, "Report of the Botanist," 185-86;
Eichenlaub, The Climatic Atlas of Michigan, 1-6,90-101.
29 Beal, "Report of the Botanist," 189, 193.
30 Bailey, "In the Wild Woods," 4;
Beal, "The Horticulture Problems of Northern Michigan," 56-57, 173-75.
William J. Beal, "Two Lessons in Forestry," 1903-1904 Report of the Michigan Forestry Commission (Lansing: Robert Smith Printing Co., 1904), 63-65;
Alfred K. Chittenden, "Special Bulletin No. 103 -Forest Planting in Michigan," 1921 Michigan Board of Agriculture Report (Lansing: Robert Smith Printing Co., 1921), 478-81.
31 Beal, "Report of the Professor of Botany and Forestry," 1888 Michigan Board of Agriculture Report, 45.
32 Schroeder, The Charles W. Garfield Story, 38;
Charles W. Garfield, "The Advance Movement in Michigan Forestry" (Lansing: Michigan Forestry Commission, 1905), 7;
Fisher, "A Scientific Expedition," 4.
33 Beal, "Report of the Forestry Commission," 71.
34 William J. Beal, "Some Needs of Forestry," 1895 State Board of Agriculture Report (Lansing: Darius D. Thorp, 1895), 818-20;
William J. Beal, "Experiment Station Bulletin 162 -Methods of Reforesting Pine Stump Lands," 1899 State Board of Agriculture Report (Lansing: Darius D. Thorp, 1899), 129-34.
35 Joseph J. Jones, "The Making of a National Forest: The Contest over the West Michigan Cutover, 1888-1943" (PhD diss., Michigan State University, 2007), 74-136.
36 Robert Mark Warner, "Chase S. Osborn and the Progressive Movement" (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 1957), 1-3, 112-15, 257;
Woodbridge N. Ferris, "State of the State Address," Jan. 7, 1915;
"Letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives," May 14, 1915, in Messages of the Governors of Michigan, vol. 4, ed. George M. Fuller (Lansing: Michigan Historical Commission, 1927), 669-70, 684.
Terry S. Reynolds, "’Quite an Experiment’: A Mining Company’s Attempt to Promote Agriculture on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, 1895-1915," Agricultural History 80 (Winter 2006): 64-98.
Harold Titus, "The Lands Nobody Wanted: The Story of Michigan’s Public Domain," Special Bulletin No. 332 (East Lansing: Michigan State College Agricultural Experiment Station, 1945);
William E. Shands and Robert G. Healy, The Lands Nobody Wanted (Washington, DC: Conservation Foundation, 1977).
37 Jones, "The Making of a National Forest," 189-331.
38 Sara M. Gregg, "Can We Trust Uncle Sam’?: Vermont and the Submarginal Lands Project, 1934-1936," Vermont History 68 (Winter/Spring 2001): 201-22;
Sara M. Gregg, "From Farms to Forest: Federal Conservation and Resettlement Programs in the Blue Ridge and Green Mountains" (PhD diss., Columbia University, 2004).
Vernon Carstensen, Farms or Forests: Evolution of a State Land Policy for Northern Wisconsin, 1850-1932 (Madison: University of Wisconsin College of Agriculture, 1958);
Robert J. Gough, "Richard T. Ely and the Development of the Wisconsin Cutover," Wisconsin Magazine of History 75 (Autumn, 1991): 2-38;
Gough, Farming the Cutover.