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Author Topic: The Elusive Virgin Tract  (Read 2888 times)

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Online mike_belben

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The Elusive Virgin Tract
« on: August 02, 2021, 09:22:27 AM »
Yesterday we went to my wifes friends church about 25 minutes and maybe 100 or 200ft lower elevation than where i live.  After services we took all the kids to walk up to a big lookout trail in a forest the church owns which probably brought us back up to my normal 1800 or 2000ft above sea level. 

Fully closed canopy, no stumps. There are 2 man bearhug trees snapped off and slowly decaying, natural openings are the only ones and its obvious this has not been harvested in 200 years if ever. The floor is fully shaded, cool and moist. Cedars interspersed hardwoods which isnt too normal in my area where logging cycles have gone on prematurely for generations.


It was completely, completely different than any forest i have stood in around my area and though all the perimeter edge weeds were the same but the trees looked totally different, including the bark. I could hardly identify anything by the bark like id be able to in a logged woods easily.  I looked super hard for poison ivy among the mess of VA creeper because the friends wanted to be able to ID it.  There was none to be found, despite it being like the state plant of cutover TN.  

The hickory dominance was extreme, especially shagbark. red/white oak were very under represented - hardly any, i dont think i saw any of the usual gum.  Red maple i can usually find with my eyes closed but the few there looked totally foreign.  I think i even saw my first ash and a gigantic dead cottonwood maybe?  Many trees i just couldnt tell because the branches were 100ft up. 


It was really something.   True, a big part of me wanted to cut it down but im awful glad no one else has managed to yet.  I dont think my kids will live long enough to see cutover ground get that way again. When its gone its gone.   
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Offline Texas Ranger

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2021, 10:54:07 AM »
I cruised and marked a hardwood stand in a river bottom here in Texas that was all hardwood, no softwoods of any nature.  100 foot to the first branches, no brush on the ground and complete shade.  We marked it for a hardwood flooring mill.  They never responded to the bid, so we took our fee and left, last I noticed it was still there, the owners have died but the heir is an "environmental"  type so I suspect it is still there, aging.

Some times it is good to have a failing sale.  That was a beautiful old east Texas bottom hardwood site, not many left.

Edit:  Just went to tax records and google earth, the tract now owned by a RET company and the timber is gone.  History.
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Offline HemlockKing

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2021, 11:05:33 AM »
 

 We have some old growth protected lands here in NS, they feel completely different to the typical ravenged  forest. Beautiful massive pines and oaks spruce etc, most people would never think NS could produce such landscape. My woodlot has been untouched for around 100 years at least. By the time Im ready to pass it on maybe it will be close to the old growth that resembles keiji national park. I will haunt whoever cuts down my timber after Im gone 
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Offline Hilltop366

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2021, 12:01:18 PM »
Hmmm that looks familiar.



 

Another place that has old growth hemlock is sporting lake, it is between New France and Lake Rossignol, the island on the lake has trees over 6' diameter unfortunately I have not made it there but friends have gone and told me about it. It could be that they are now threatened by the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, as it is in this end of the province now.

Offline HemlockKing

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2021, 12:04:33 PM »
Nice picture! Yes and my
Beloved hemlock! My favourite softwood. Being in a mature hemlock stand is amazing 
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Offline Wudman

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2021, 01:31:42 PM »
Hemlock here in Virginia is gone compliments of the wooly adelgid.  It is a shame.  I rode up through some of the National Park and George Washington National Forest about a year ago and it was all laying on the ground.  Quite heartbreaking.

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Offline HemlockKing

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2021, 03:24:09 PM »
Yep we have it here too apparently. There is lots of hemlock but north or east of me 20 min, none on my land unfortunately except new I planted recently 
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Offline Don P

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2021, 10:33:29 PM »
There were 2 Carolina Hemlock's amongst the eastern Hemlock here. We noticed over the weekend the last one has succumbed to the adelgid. I'll take the virgin white pine beside it at the same time, its gotta be at least 80  ;D. It sure is easier to be an environmentalist if you don't do anything. I would prefer to see us on something closer to that rotation though.

Something I noticed when looking at the oldest map of this region was the upper piedmont  below me has a good amount of forest now. It was labelled "savannah" with a few scattered lone trees on the old map. The "virgin" forest was removed by humans and managed as an open grassland. We have presently let much of it revert to forest. If old enough I would consider it to be old growth or virgin, but our hand goes back a fair ways in time. That map made me realize its further than I think sometimes.
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Offline Southside

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2021, 10:36:28 PM »
Don - does that map show this area?  If so do you have a link to it?  I was reading last night that over your way it was bare tundra 8,000 years ago and here was the edge of the mixed hardwood with spruce, fir, etc Richmond and north.  Even said we had moose and elk in this neck of the woods back then.
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Offline Don P

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2021, 10:46:31 PM »
I'll see if I can find it. Lt Wood's map rings a bell... I think.
Now I'm interested in what you were reading, got a link?
I think it is just west of Richmond was the earliest coal mine in the state but I guess that forest was well before 8,000 years ago.
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Offline samandothers

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2021, 11:25:26 AM »
Thanks for the link.  That was an interesting read.  I noticed the mention of soapstone and it's use.  We used a large piece for a mantle in our home in Floyd area. I previously was being used as a step on a log cabin. 

Offline grabber green

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2021, 08:50:03 PM »
Mike ,if you haven't yet ,check out the Joyce Kilmer forest. It's in north carolina but it's not that far from us. 

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2021, 11:08:22 PM »
@Don P I am kinda feeling stood up....   :D
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Offline Tacotodd

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2021, 11:11:40 PM »
SS youre going to be hurting that tough old Marines feelings  :D
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Offline Machinebuilder

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2021, 06:06:40 AM »
Mike ,if you haven't yet ,check out the Joyce Kilmer forest. It's in north carolina but it's not that far from us.
I was going to suggest this.
I find it interesting that on a hot summer day you can go there and it is always much cooler.
My favorite way to get there is the Cherohala Skyway, the eastern end is only a couple miles from the parking lot.
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Offline Don P

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2021, 07:18:00 AM »
@Don P I am kinda feeling stood up....   :D
I've been looking, no joy yet  :P :D
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2021, 04:25:19 PM »
I had the opportunity to work on a town watershed lot. Was once the town water source. So it was never cut before. Red spruce like white pine, and the maple was 40" across and bigger, even some birdseye in it. Of course those were the dominant ones. The regen underneath was sugar maple and a lot of red spruce. No balsam fir regen, no beech. The only balsam fir was in the gullies with white spruce. She's cut now, not by me, I was doing single tree selection with a horse crew. But guy before and guy after pretty much cut whatever they came to. I arrived mid stream after the town had been harvesting for some time.

Bark on old hardwood is totally different looking.

I called Forestry Canada to come collect red spruce seed. They did, I know the fella that was in charge of the tree improvement work there.
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Offline moodnacreek

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #18 on: August 04, 2021, 09:44:10 PM »
There was a virgin forest here when I was very young. It was cove timber, very tall, hemlock, r.o., w.o., chestnut and tulip. The tulip section was still there in my late teens and tulip tree is the largest tree in NYS. although w. pine can be as large. The owners of this land where well to do and never cut it but when they ran out of money and sold out it got cut and  devided as always happens. It was one of those places where timber would exceed the normal size. An old time sawmill man I learned from owned a wood lot that had a supply of tall 30" + oak, hemlock and w. pine. I always considered this to be early 2nd growth.  That got sold also when old Russ passed.  When you get in the real timber it is a beautiful thing.

Offline barbender

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #19 on: August 04, 2021, 10:15:28 PM »
There are scattered tracts of old growth (250 year old +) Red and White pine up here. Probably the most well known is the Lost 40, and Itasca State Park (which is where the source of the Mississippi is). Both have pine in excess of 400 years old if I'm not mistaken.
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Offline Don P

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #20 on: August 04, 2021, 10:44:44 PM »
Jim, I haven't found Col Abram Wood's map yet, if that is the one I'm remembering.

Supposedly he was the first white man to explore the New River Valley in the 1650's. The river was named for him at that time

This map is from 1796 and doesn't show "savannah" but seems to be confirming another story I had heard.
Virginia. - David Rumsey Historical Map Collection
Look along the NC border from the west, Holston river, then the Dan river. No New river between them.

My understanding is that the New river was named Wood's river after the Col. Then they lost the river, it appears to still be lost in the map above. When they found the river again, it was a New river. I suspect this map is a good bit older than its publication date suggests.

In the 1750's Dr Thomas Walker (Big Walker mt and the Big Walker tunnel on I-77) explored the New River up to the Greenbrier, so if it was really lost or just lost to some, they had found it again by that point.

Dr Walker is a piece of history. He was Thomas Jefferson's father's physician and a neighboring plantation owner somewhere around Charlottesville (15,000 acres). He shared interest in surveying and the natural sciences with the senior Jefferson. When Jefferson senior died, Doc Walker served as executor of the estate and acted as guardian for young Thomas Jefferson. 

Shortly after Walker's exploration an early group of settlers set up near modern day Alderson WV in 1763. They were all killed by Indians. In 1770 another settlement nearby did make it.

That was a sidetrack  :D
Carry on  :)
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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #21 on: August 04, 2021, 11:00:50 PM »
Thanks Don - will go check it out right now.  Lost a whole river, that must sure cause some head scratching.  "I am telling you Martha there was a river here with trout 'This Big' just last week".  "Sure George, were there beavers cutting down cherry trees there too? Lets go, the horse is getting tired".   :D

This is going back 25 years now but just off the shores of Square Lake, T15 R6 in Maine I have seen massive White Pine that still had the remains of the "Kings Broad Arrow" carved into them.  These trees were claimed by the King of England for ship masts for the Royal Navy during the Colonial Era.  So they were massive then, and that was 200 years ago.  Spruce - giant by todays measure - would be felled to act as a landing cushion for the pines, then left on the forest floor.  It was considered patriotic to have wide pine - over 24" wide - in ones home back then, kind of a way to say "stuff it", I cut down your tree, to the King.  
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Offline barbender

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #22 on: August 04, 2021, 11:46:38 PM »
24" wide pine paneling, vertical, like a middle finger?😂
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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #23 on: August 05, 2021, 12:37:51 AM »
I've been down in that neck of the woods before, the New River. Buddy of mine lived in Blacksburgh and worked at V. Tech. We did some exploring. I call him the bug picker. :D He was researching the Hemlock woolly adelgid and he worked between there and parts of TN. He's still pick'n bugs, but at Forestry Canada now. He did a stint in Idaho to. ;D The oldest red spruce that have been cored are over 400 years old here in New Brunswick. And those particular ones are not even all that remarkably large compared to the ones that were on this town lot. Spruce was never thrown away here, it is king of the north. Some old photos around with horse drawn sleds in winter full of spruce logs. Course that ain't 18th C or older because then it was all oxen work. ;D But yeah, them pines was ship mast material, not what was common in camps and homesteads. Course, this area around here was only settled after the timber railroads came through. All the white population was on the coast lines. Acadian dikes still down on the Fundy, over 400 years old near Hopewell Cape park.

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Online Mooseherder

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #24 on: August 05, 2021, 08:21:35 AM »
Our property goes to the eastern base of a place called Moose Mountain.  The west side of Moose Mountain contains a 5-acre stand of old growth spruce. I've met the foresters working for Prentice and Carlisle a couple years ago.  They manage it. It would be nice to check it out. 
I'll ask them to show me if we ever cross paths again.  One of the Foresters pointed out a legacy Maple on our side.  He also found a Moose Antler while we were walking around. 

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #25 on: August 05, 2021, 09:18:20 AM »
To understand the Native American impact on the landscape in the Southeast where they created savannas with fire, read Bartrams Travels.  He explored the area in the late 1760s before the native Americans were exiled to reservations in Oklahoma. 
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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #26 on: August 10, 2021, 07:52:59 AM »
Most surviving old growth bush in this part of Ontario has been protected by its terrain: it is either marooned by swampland or has grown between huge shoulder-to-shoulder boulders that sit on top of glacial eskers.

The Province and municipalities dangle the bait of much-reduced property taxes for those landowners who wish to declare the "natural heritage features" of their lands; and old-growth bush along with wetlands certainly qualify for these tax exemptions.  

But once you declare your lands as Conservation Lands, you effectively lose control over them and open them up to very critical examination by a host of bureaucrats from various government ministries and quasi-government agencies such as Conservation Authorities.   The end result is invariably a multitude of land-use restrictions that not only encompass the actual heritage feature, but a large, ever-expanding protection zone around it that limits anything that falls under the broad-brush definition of "development".  

Another unintended consequence is that while walking the property boundaries, the bureaucrats get to see what is on adjoining lands - and if they see that any of the natural heritage features (and it's an incredibly long list) exist on the other side of the man-made border, they have no hesitation about slapping land-use restrictions on the neighbour.

The glitter of immediate property tax relief blinds people to the long-term reality of land-use restrictions that affect resale values and can sour relationships with neighbours.

So in these parts, wise folks stay vewy, vewy quiet about their old-growth.   fudd-smiley fudd-smiley fudd-smiley



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Online mike_belben

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #27 on: August 10, 2021, 08:32:42 AM »
Thats some good insight. 
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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #28 on: August 27, 2021, 03:19:13 PM »
Here in E KY we have the Lilley Cornett ( he was a man) Woods  in Letcher County. It's managed by Eastern Kentucky University as the Appalachian Ecological research Station. It's open to the public under a controlled process through the ranger station on site. My wife & I hiked it in the late 1970's-it's a magical place for a tree freak like me! 
It's called a mesophytic forest. To qualify as an "old growth forest" 150 years untouched is the criteria I've read. Many of the huge trees in there are not as tall of trunks as in my own forest but some have record size overall diameters of the upper growth. Maybe the result of falls opening the canopy?  I've worked several Chestnut oaks on our land that counted out to ~ 135 years or so. There's another virgin tract not too far south of me near the Red River Gorge Geological Area. I forget it's size, seems like it was under a 100 acres and no where near the 554 acres of Lilley Cornett Woods. 
Lots of hickory is found up high as they left them behind.
Hickory:  I came onto two ballpeen hammer heads and was looking on Amazon a few days back for replacement handles. One was listed for $64.30. Most were more than a used ball peen hammers worth at around $12-16 per handle. I will make my own as I've done before (turn them on three centers) but tried to be lazy and it didn't work.  ;D 
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Offline LogPup

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #29 on: August 27, 2021, 11:04:12 PM »
Don,  There are several maps that show both New River and Woods River.  A map of the most inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole province of Maryland with part of Pensilvania, New Jersey and North Carolina. - Copy 1 | Library of Congress  .
Woods River is at the left side top.

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #30 on: August 27, 2021, 11:15:16 PM »
  I don't know about the rest of this thread but either I need to resize my screen or the admins need add more space on  the subject line. After all this is a family site and every time I look at this category this one keeps flashing up as: "Re: The elusive virgin ..." :D
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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #31 on: August 28, 2021, 08:05:36 AM »
I think it's called "clickbait".:)
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #32 on: August 28, 2021, 08:35:52 AM »
I'd call it wandering minds? ;D
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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #33 on: August 28, 2021, 07:19:21 PM »
Thanks David, I don't think I've seen that map before, really cool. 

After reading Lewis and Clark, I've been reading an account of exploring the Great Lakes and upper Mississippi by Jonathan Carver in the late 1760's.
https://ia800203.us.archive.org/25/items/travelsthroughin00carv/travelsthroughin00carv.pdf
 He predated Lewis and Clark's Voyage of Discovery of around 1804, they had read Carver's account. They were all looking for the northwest passage. There are references to Father Hennepin's account of travels with LaSalle from Niagra Falls through the same area in 1688 although Hennepin's accounts apparently venture into incredible tales told him and has some factual problems. Anyway, Carver is tedious but interesting reading, good accounts of who and what he was seeing at that time. 
The future is a foreign country, they will do things differently there - Simon Winchester

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #34 on: August 28, 2021, 10:30:41 PM »
I'll have to check that one out, Don. I love history, I've been through "Undaunted Couragec several times and I e got a few others to read it as well. The Lewis and Clark expedition was really so different from the picture that I had in my mind I could almost say I was shocked by it. I had always pictured Captains Lewis and Clark, led by Sacagawea because that is the narrative that is out there. Even on road signs and such. Not that she wasn't an important part of the expedition, especially for translating. But to say she was there "guide" is really doing violence to the historical record, IMO.
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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #35 on: August 29, 2021, 03:12:15 AM »
:D As to conservation ground, I've seen it used as a payback scheme. Old clearcut mill ground someone had dreams of selling off as camp lots in remote areas of the Renous and Bartholomew. The heyday of remote big game guiding and fishing has been done for decades. It was maybe 3 years ago now, that someone found a way to make a buck of said lands by asking them if they were interested in it, they was, and said land owner cashed in for far more than was paid when he purchased it. Old mill ground goes for about $250/acre and I believe he got $1000/acre in return. :D He had every logger around here looking at it for timber harvest. A couple crossed my path. All you needed was photos and you could see 95% was all clear cut, just riparian edge left with trees falling down in every wind event. Of course the photos in the 'news' was of old trees that were non touch in the riparian zone along the creek. Look at all the old growth, let's save it. There's more money scams out there than you can shake a stick at. And don't think that he didn't have buddies in that conservation group, probably a member. Actually, indirectly linked by the Miramichi Salmon Association. These are salmon streams. ;) :D
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Offline Don P

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Re: The Elusive Virgin Tract
« Reply #36 on: August 29, 2021, 07:18:40 AM »
@barbender I had to go look up the link to Lewis and Clark, I think this was prepared for their bicentennial, it was a good read;
The Way to the Western Sea Lewis and Clark across the Continent | Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (unl.edu)
The future is a foreign country, they will do things differently there - Simon Winchester


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