‘Beneath the Canopy’ details journey of forestry in Delaware

May 14, 2020

“Beneath the Canopy: A Historical View of Forestry in Delaware,” is a newly published book by Bob Tjaden and Walt Gabel, both former state foresters of Delaware.

A native Delawarean and forester with a great appreciation for Delaware’s rich forest history, Tjaden wrote this book with the late Gabel so others can realize the value of these forests and have historical information in one publication. The authors take the reader on a memorable journey with photographs and written documents gathered from archival sources and interviews that are part of the Delaware Forest Oral History Project.

Delaware’s forests have provided valuable materials for the production and manufacturing of many items. They include shipbuilding, paper making, charcoal production, holly wreath making, wooden basket and shingle manufacturing, gunpowder, pulpwood and lumber.

During the 1920s, Laurel was the largest manufacturer of wooden bushel baskets and crates for fruits and vegetables. In the 1930s and ‘40s, Milton was known as the holly wreath capital of the world, shipping Christmas wreaths worldwide. The Pennsylvania Railroad had a special train at Christmas called the Holly Express to pick up and deliver wreaths throughout the region.

Foresters, private landowners and forestry organizations that helped protect and manage Delaware’s forests over the years are highlighted in the book.

A chapter also is dedicated to the Great Cypress Swamp and its folklore.

In 1927, the Delaware Forestry Department was established, with William S. Taber as state forester, to provide leadership for the protection and management of Delaware’s forests. During this time, forest fire lookout towers were erected, state forests and a state tree nursery were established, and a Civilian Conservation Corps camp was built at Redden Forest.

Readers also will learn the critical role of the Forestry Department and Delaware’s wood products during World War II.

This 420-page book can be purchased on in soft cover or in hard cover. Signed copies of the book can be purchased directly from Bob Tjaden by emailing




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