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Good For Kids
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front of the museum and visitor center
Cradle of Forestry
Closest available address
11250 Pisgah Highway Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
Hours vary, generally open daily 9:00am–5:00pm (April-November only)
Best time to visit
Summer, Fall, Spring
The Cradle of Forestry in America is a 6,540 acre historic and nature site owned by the US Forest Service. The area was set aside by the Federal Government in 1968 to enhance forest conservation. The site includes a large interpretive center co-managed with a non-profit organization. The center has a museum, movies, gift shop and café. There are also outdoor exhibits such as a rebuilt school of forestry and machinery used in the timber industry.
The Cradle has an interesting history. It stems from the first school of forestry in the US established here by a German named Carl Schenck in 1898. Schenck had been hired by George Vanderbilt to help manage the extensive forests on Vanderbilt’s Biltmore estate. Both Vanderbilt and Schenck had a strong conservation ethic and agreed to share Schenck’s novel ideas about forest management with local landowners via a school. Schenck ran the school in various locations up through 1913, after which he went back to Germany. Vanderbilt’s widow sold most of the forests to the US Government in 1915.
Sometimes on a trip you visit a place with modest expectations and wind up staying to the last minute to see as much as possible. The Cradle of Forestry fits this description. The museum’s displays were interesting and well designed with a mix of information, video and mannequins. There were several films to choose from. A film about a young girl who discovers magic in the forest started off slowly but turned out to be great and will be a winner with kids. In fact, the entire center is a good bet for kids. The exhibits outside were also quite strong. Schenck’s forestry school has been faithfully reconstructed with a number of wooden buildings and cabins open for inspection. Another trail provides access to a range of early industrial equipment used in the logging industry including a steam locomotive and sawmill. There were no shortcomings here - none. It was a high point of the entire trip, and a visit is strongly recommended.
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