This region was prized in the mid 1700’s for its wealth of timber:
Many sawmills were erected along the larger creeks and rivers, and timber was transported to markets downstream in large rafts. Lumber formed the base, and shingles and lath products were carried on top. By 1831 there were 100 sawmills in Schuylkill County alone.
During the 1800’s iron smelting became a major industry in the region, and the forests were further cut over to produce charcoal to fuel the furnaces. The Schuylkill and Union Canals were dug during this time to transport charcoal to furnaces in southeastern Pennsylvania.
At the same time coal was discovered, and by 1820 had become a viable industry in the region. Rail lines were constructed to transport coal products from the region. The forests of the region supplied the coal industry with mine props and railroad ties.
Denuded hillsides were slow to re-vegetate, and serious soil erosion and stream siltation occurred. Uncontrolled and repeated wildfires swept across the region, consuming thousands of acres of forest land.
In 1902 the Department of Forestry was established, primarily to control wildfires and replant deforested hillsides.
Today the Weiser State Forest is again stocked with stands of saw timber and pulpwood-size trees, but fire scars are still evident throughout the district. The region is still recovering from the heavy use of its forests in the early years of our country. But with ongoing protection from wildfires, and science-based forest management guiding the Bureau of Forestry, fire damaged stands will gradually be replaced with young healthy stands of higher quality material.