Boone History

A Short History

1900 – Congress set aside $5000 to investigate purchases in the Appalachians.

  • Division of Forestry already existed, and was headed by Gifford Pinchot, first professional forester

1905 – “Bureau of Forestry” became “Forest Service”

1907 – “Forest reserves” became “national forests”

  • Congress sets aside $25,000 for survey and purchase of land in the White Mountains (NH) and the Southern Appalachians.

1911 – Weeks Act: set aside $1-$2 million a year until 1915 for the acquision by the Government of land at the headwaters of navigable streams.

  • Land examined in Leslie, Perry, Clay, Menifee, Wolfe, Powell, and Breathitt counties; some coal companies were already interested in selling.
  • No property purchased in Kentucky at this time due to perceived land claim difficulties, but

March 1, 1930 – memo to the head Forester proposing the purchase of 580,000 acres referred to as the Cumberland Purchase Unit.

  • Described as extending for 90 miles along the mountains just east of Winchester, Kentucky
  • Name refers to the Cumberland Plateau
  • Noted as being in a “run down” condition due to past logging and fires

Map of Kentucky showing physiographic regions

1933 – Acquisition of the Cumberland Purchase Unit begins

February 23, 1937 – Franklin D. Roosevelt officially proclaimed the creation of the Cumberland National Forest. Boundaries generally match those of today, with the exception of Redbird, which was added later. At that time, 409,567 acres were Forest owned.

Cumberland National Forest Truck

At establishment:

  • Crossed 16 counties and encompassed the homes of 48,000 people (8,000 families).
  • 80% owned their own farms and considered themselves farmers, although the men also often worked in coal mines or at logging
  • The average income was between $40-$280 annually
  • Homes were generally log structures with stone fireplaces furnished with handmade beds, tables and chairs. Board shelves on the walls held smaller belongings such as cast iron skillets, aluminum pots, and canned food. Cooking took place on a cast iron wood stove with 2 or 4 lids
  • Less than 10% had telephones or running water
  • Less than 5% had radios, electric lights, or bathrooms
  • Most people got their water from a nearby creek or spring
  • Daily diet: fried potatoes, beans, salt pork and onions for every meal along with cornbread or biscuits. Gravy could be made if meat was available; squirrel, rabbit and fish were used when possible. Strong black coffee was the preferred drink and desserts such as fried fruit pies or sweet cakes were also made when possible.
  • Livestock: cow and calf, pig, sometimes a mule, rarely a horse
  • Gardens: white and sweet potatoes, onions, cabbage, beans, cucumbers, beets, carrots, lettuce, radishes, turnips, rhubarb, corn
  • Food storage: bury root crops and fruits underground (“holeing up”) or in a root cellar; canning or pickling vegetables, salting or smoking meat

Corn near cliffline

Name Change

Even in the 1930s, the name was contested; Daniel Boone, Richard Menefee and Henry Clay all put forward.

In the 1960s, the Forest Supervisor became convinced the name should be changed to Daniel Boone and began to push for a change.

  • Push picked up by the Louisville Courier-Journal, who publicly asked the Governor to help.
  • Governor Breathitt wrote to the Sec. of Agriculture, who forwarded the request to the Chief of the Forest Service.
  • Chief investigated, interviewing several state congressmen, who generally supported the name change.

April 11, 1966 – name was officially changed to the Daniel Boone National Forest.

  • Ceremony held in London and attended by Fess Parker, who was famous for playing Daniel Boone in a popular TV show in the 1960s.

Fess Parker next to Boone Sign

1966 – Redbird Unit was added, about 300,000 additional acres

Today – DBNF is nearly 708,000 acres with 3,400 miles of sandstone cliffs. The forest land is often fragmented, but the forest tries to add parcels when they will make the forest more contiguous or contain important resources. For example, the Gladie area was added in 1987.

Red River Dam

1950s – Local residents requested a dam be built on the Red River to control flooding.

1962 – Red River Reservoir was authorized by the Army Corps of Engineers.

1963 – Corps announced the news in Stanton to local residents with no apparent opposition.

1967 – Land acquisition begins and opposition also begins to be apparent. Protests are based on the unique and abundant natural and scenic resources.

November 1967 – Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglass visited the area and both supporters and opposition forces talked to him during this visit. Eventually Douglass would be named as one who opposed the dam.

1968 – Kentucky state senator John S. Cooper expressed opposition to the dam.

  • Congressman Carl Perkins stated support for the dam

April 1969 – Governor Louie B. Nunn announced he could not approve of the dam construction.

  • Senator Cooper appeals to President Nixon to stop the dam.

April 10, 1969 – NY Times publishes the news that the Nixon administration was against the dam in the Red River Gorge in eastern Kentucky.

April 11, 1969 – Time magazine ran a piece that noted the dam project had been thwarted, possibly for the first time, due to ecological and aesthetic preservation reasons.