"There never were any finer people since Noah came out of the Ark" wrote Gifford Pinchot to Ranger H.J. Tompkins.

Forest Ranger H.J. Tompkins's narrative, sent on March 9, 1940, contained an astounding collection of photographs including an image of Franklin Reed, also a forester, standing beside an enormous bleached "root wad" or tree stump that had drifted up on the beach near the Quinault River in Washington state. We do not have much information about Mr. Reed though his name is noted in other narratives of the Old Timers, found in the Gifford Pinchot Collection at the Library of Congress. https://lccn.loc.gov/mm78036277

Gifford Pinchot frequently attested to the valor of the forest officers he trained. Records indicate that he interviewed each one, hiring each for his character and sense of duty to the mission of the agency--forest restoration and protection of the watershed. Pinchot's response to each and every letter sent to him was a testimony to his own attentiveness and generosity. He wished to confirm that each man and woman who served had made a significant contribution to the organization and to the American people.

In his letter to Pinchot, Ranger Tompkins politely apologizes for a tardy response, and then launches into his alibi: "I had the misfortune to have a car fall on the back of my head (while working under it) and about the time your letter came I was leaving for the East for surgical treatment. Then I went to Portland, Oregon, (not wishing to slight any part of our great nation) and have just returned from there. I may expect plenty of "fun" for five or six weeks and then if everything goes o.k., be very nearly as good as new. If that is not too late I shall be more than pleased to start writing an account of my days with the Service. In so doing, however, it will be necessary that I depend entirely on recollections since my diaries from those days were lost when my trunk was stolen from storage in Somerville, Texas; shortly after I left the Service. I would have no difficulty remembering most of the men I worked with and in general what went on but cannot be exact as to dates. I can well recall that I began February 1, 1901 at Washington, D.C. went that summer to Tennessee with a party led by Fritz Olmsted; the next summer under Bill Hodge, and that fall to Texas under Tom Sherrard, etc. My brother, Harry, always said that it was wrong to withhold sincere admiration since everyone needed a little "bucking up" in life. Acting on that impulse, I must say that I have followed your career with much interest. I was pleased when you attained the Governorship of Pennsylvania and disappointed when it did not develop into an even higher honor. This I do know--that your splendid example of honesty and devotion to duty was an inspiration to scores of men who worked under you, and I have always been very proud of the fact that you were my chief for several years and that we were really friends."


H.J. Tompkins

Helena, Montana

Planting Sugar Pines