Case No. 1

Homestake Mining Company

First Government Timber Sale

Homestake Mining Company Accepts Idea of a Government Timber Sale


In October and November, 1897, Gifford Pinchot, the Chief of the Division of Forestry under the Department of Agriculture, spent 2 weeks in the Black Hills, looking at the forests.  Pinchot discussed concepts and details of forest management and the sale of timber with Homestake Mining Company Superintendent Thomas J. Grier, other mining officials, and Black Hills Forest Reserve staff. Pinchot thoroughly understood scientific forest management and he also understood how to convince the Company that this would be a good thing for them, and not a bad thing. Pinchot convinced Homestake to apply to the Secretary of the Interior to purchase timber from the United States. Pinchot then worked with the Secretary of the Interior to present a harvest plan to Homestake Mining Company.

On April 8, 1898, Superintendent Grier submitted a request to purchase timber from the Black Hills Forest Reserve. After much internal debate about how to respond to Homestake’s request within the federal government, Superintendent Grier submitted a modified request to purchase timber from the Black Hills Forest Reserve on January 14, 1899. The timber sale was advertised on August 4, 1899, and Homestake officials submitted their bid. At the time, there was a wood shortage near their mine in Lead, SD. After a year and half, cutting on Timber Case No. 1 finally began December of 1899.

Case No. 1 timber sale area, 1903. (Forest History Society)

A board foot is a common way to measure wood volume that is 12 inches by 12 inches by 1 inch thick.

Case No. 1 allowed Homestake Mining Company to cut 13 million board feet from trees 8.0 inches in diameter or larger and required seed trees to be left to ensure regeneration. Homestake paid the U.S. Government $1 per thousand board feet (MBF). A board foot is a common way to measure wood volume that is 12 inches by 12 inches by 1 inch thick. The government required them to pile tree tops and cut the smaller pieces of wood into cord wood so they could be used to heat company buildings.

Case No. 1 signaled big changes in management of Federal forest lands:

1. The Federal Government was now paid for the timber

2. Seed trees were left to start a new growth of trees

3. Utilization standards were established

4. Tree tops were disposed

5. Timber harvest was planned looking to the future forest.

(Photo credit: National Museum of Forest Service History)

In 1908, Case No. 1 was finally completed. Homestake had paid $14,967.32 for 13 million board feet of sawtimber and 5,100 cords of wood. (The cord is a unit of measure for firewood and pulpwood. A cord is 128 cubic feet in volume.) The average ponderosa pine tree at that time had about 100 board feet. After Homestake completed their cutting there were about two seed trees with 482 board feet per acre of timber left in the area.

In 1922 (25 years after harvest), ponderosa pine in Case No. 1 area were averaging 2,129 board feet per acre.

In 1966 (69 years after harvest), one of the largest ponderosa pines from Case No. 1 area, set aside as a seed tree, was harvested. After the tree was harvested, the rings on the tree stump were counted. The tree had grown 8 inches in diameter since 1898 and it now contained 400 board feet. This tree represented the 2 billionth board foot of timber to be harvested since the Black Hills National Forest Reserve was established in 1897.

(Photo credit: National Museum of Forest Service History)

A portion of the Case No. 1 sale area in 2018, 119 years after Case No. 1 was sold to the Homestake Mining Company.

After 1900, harvesting timber on the Black Hills Reserve / National Forest was a common practice. After the Case No. 1 timber sale, in 1902, there was an application from Thomas T. March to purchase 150 thousand board feet of sawtimber. Seth Bullock, the Forest Supervisor at that time, recommended approval of the sale. (Source 110a). Also in 1902, Homestake Mining Company purchased Case No. 100, with 7.2 million board feet.

A portion of the Case No. 1 sale area in 2018, 119 years after Case No. 1 was sold to the Homestake Mining Company.

Who was Seth Bullock?

“Sheriff Seth Bullock, Last of the Pioneers, Was Real Westerner” read the story line in The New York Evening World when he died, September 23, 1919, at his home in Deadwood, South Dakota. Born in 1849 in what is now Ontario, Canada, Bullock first ran away from home when he was 13. In 1871 at the age of 23 he was elected to the Territorial Senate in Montana and helped create the Yellowstone National Park. As supervisor of the Black Hills Forest Reserve (1901-06) he took steps to stop illegal logging and increase timber sales, which included trees killed by the mountain pine beetle. Bullock organized a volunteer fire department of 25 brigades to cover all his ranger districts and boasted it was the largest fire department in the world. He even required all holders of federal grazing leases to help fight forest fires. Bullock’s nomination for forest supervisor had strong support from Vice President Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot.

Bullock and Roosevelt first met in 1892 near Spearfish, South Dakota. Bullock was on the range checking his cattle and first thought Roosevelt and his trail-weary party looked like “some kind of tin-horn gambling outfit” that he needed to keep an eye on (Black Hills Forestry: A History, 2015). Bullock and Roosevelt became lifelong friends and died only eight months apart. Among his many other occupations (frontiersman, store and hotel owner, investor, horse breeder, farmer), he was perhaps best known as a lawman. He was the first sheriff of Deadwood when it was a rowdy, lawless place and would later become a Deputy U.S. Marshall. He looked the part and acted it too when, as Deadwood Sheriff, he confronted Wyatt Earp and convinced him to return to Dodge City, Kansas. Indeed, as his famous friend Teddy Roosevelt said, “Seth Bullock is a true Westerner, the finest type of frontiersman.”

Chapters in this Exhibit

Introduction


Case No. 1 was the name given to an 1899 timber sale on U.S. Government land in the Black Hills Forest Reserve in South Dakota.

Forest Reserves


In 1891, the U.S. Congress passed the Forest Reserve Act, which allowed the President to set aside parts of government lands across the western United States as Forest Reserves.

Homestake Mining Company


In 1897, Gifford Pinchot, the Chief of the Division of Forestry under the Department of Agriculture, convinced Homestake to apply to the Secretary of the Interior to purchase timber from the United States.

US Forest Service & Forest Products Industry


The Department of the Interior was responsible for management of the Forest Reserves until 1905 when Congress, supported by President Theodore Roosevelt, transferred the Forest Reserves to the Department of Agriculture’s new U.S. Forest Service.

Harvesting Technology & Science


Since 1900, the methods how trees are cut and the how foresters and other natural resource professionals apply science to manage the forest have changed drastically.

Summary


The total forested area of the US has been relatively stable since 1910, although the human population has more than tripled since then.

Funding for this exhibit is made possible by