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Pennsylvania Wilds: Images from the Allegheny National Forest    by Lisa Gensheimer & Ed Bernik order for
Pennsylvania Wilds
by Lisa Gensheimer
Order:  USA  Can
Forest Press, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

If you're like me, you're proud of the state in which you were born and raised. And if you're like me, you really don't know diddley-squat about that state. Born in Philadelphia, I have lived in the suburbs all of my not-long-enough years. Ask me, though, about other parts of the state and I come up blank. I can converse about many other areas of the world with some accuracy. I've been fortunate enough to have traveled some. But I know very little about Pennsylvania.

Now I have Pennsylvania Wilds in front of me with a glorious cover photo of an image from the Allegheny National Forest. Where has this been all my life? The Allegheny National Forest 'is an enormous ecosystem spanning 800 square miles in northcentral Pennsylvania'. Sadly, few people even know it exists. Pennsylvania Wilds is 'an illustrated history featuring previously unpublished images, essays about modern pioneers and page after page of ... photography capturing the spirit of this hidden corner of America.' Included with the book is a Forest Companion CD, complete with map and travel guide.

At the turn of the 20th century, the forest was clear-cut. Penn's Woods were wiped out! Today, that thought brings chills. But with careful planning, the region has made an amazing comeback. Opening the first pages of this wonderful pictorial history, the reader is plunged back in time to untrammeled woods and the people who made it happen. A history of the area is explored, including the fact that the rocks were there 140 million years before the dinosaurs! Moving forward by millions of years, the Native Americans were slowly pushed out - as civilization as we now know it moved in. Old pictures of the logging era and the inhabitants of those times are priceless, but the lovely photos of today, in all their splendor, make one want to pack and head for this beautiful spot.

Foxglove, the Allegheny Reservoir, chainsaw carving, Bent Run, even the footprint of a black bear - all in color - vie for your attention. There's an auction in Kane, Pa., snow in hemlocks, the faces of some of the men who live in the area. The glorious double-page photo of the Causeway Allegheny brings the Allegheny National Forest into your very own living room. Don't miss it. I promise not to.

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