History of Gifford Pinchot State Park
The park honors Governor Gifford Pinchot (1865-1946). Pinchot is credited as being the foremost American apostle of conservation. Appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as the first forester of the United States in 1898, Gifford Pinchot acted as the President’s “Chief Advisor” in the conservation movement.
With the guidance of Roosevelt and Pinchot, more than 200,000,000 acres of national forest came under scientific land management.
The Life of Gifford Pinchot
(1865 - 1946)
Gifford Pinchot was born in 1865 to a wealthy family. A childhood interest in nature led to a career protecting forests. Gifford Pinchot become one of the founders of the conservation movement.
After graduating from Yale University, Pinchot went to France and became the first American trained in forestry. A good friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, Pinchot was named Chief Forester of the U.S. Division of Forestry and served from 1898 to 1910.
With the guidance of Roosevelt and Pinchot, more than 200 million acres of national forest came under scientific land management. Policies developed by Pinchot still help guide most national and state forests.
“Among the many, many public officials who under my administration rendered literally invaluable service to the people of the United States, Gifford Pinchot on the whole, stood first.” -- President Theodore Roosevelt
Gifford Pinchot became governor of Pennsylvania in 1922. A tireless worker, he often worked 16 hours a day. Governor Pinchot created the first Pennsylvania state budget, erased the state’s debt and gave himself a pay cut.
Governor Pinchot was not afraid of a fight. Often at odds with political parties, Pinchot fought hard for the people. Several times a week Governor Pinchot held office hours and anyone could walk in and talk to him. “A public official is there to serve the public and not run them.” -- Gifford Pinchot
Pinchot was elected to a second term as governor in 1930 and labored for employment improvements during the Great Depression. Governor Pinchot set up work camps throughout the state that became the models for the Civilian Conservation Corps of President Franklin Roosevelt.
Governor Pinchot’s work camps built 20,000 miles of paved roads for “taking the farmer out of the mud.” These paved country roads made it easier for farmers to get from the farm to the market. The first “Pinchot Road” crosses the park -- now PA 177.
Always progressive, Governor Pinchot was the first governor to have two women on his cabinet.
Throughout his life Gifford Pinchot spoke and campaigned for political reform and improved forest management. “I have been governor every now and then, but I am a forester all the time.” -- Gifford Pinchot
During World War II, Pinchot developed a water gathering device and fishing kits for use in navy life rafts.
After writing his autobiography, Gifford Pinchot died of leukemia in 1946.
In 1961, Gifford Pinchot State Park was dedicated by Governor David L. Lawrence.
For more information about Gifford Pinchot, visit the Grey Towers National Historic Site.