On August 17, 1977 the Georgia Forestry Commission dedicated the museum in memory of Howard E. Bennett, to preserve the historical legacy of Georgia’s forestry activities. Bennett was a GFC employee and the editor of a quarterly forestry publication. As he traveled the state interviewing people for the magazine, he was inspired by their stories and the equipment they used throughout the years. He established a central place to gather these artifacts and information about Georgia’s forest industry on the GFC campus outside Macon in Dry Branch.
The log cabin that houses the museum was built to replicate a depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) cabin in Albany, Georgia. The original cabin had been used since the 1950’s by the Georgia Forestry Commission as a residence, and then as an office. Plans to move the original cabin to Macon were shelved when it was discovered that termites had destroyed too much of the structure. Some of the wormy chestnut lumber, however, was salvaged, and is now a part of the museum’s framing, sub-flooring and porch roof. Most of the fixtures were also salvaged and are still in use in the museum. The logs used to build the cabin were grown in Baldwin Forest (Bartram Forest), which is managed by the Georgia Forestry Commission and located in Milledgeville, Georgia. Construction labor for the cabin was provided by Georgia Forestry Commission personnel. A group of individuals, public entities, and private corporations provided a variety of contributions to the museum, and a plaque with their names and contributions can be found at the museum’s entrance
Trees can be considered timekeepers of history. A crosscut of a bald cypress welcomes visitors as they enter the building. Scientists at the University of Georgia estimate the bald cypress began sprouting in 1444, before Christopher Columbus made his historic landing on American soil. That would have made it 520 years old when it was cut in 1964 in McIntosh County, Georgia!
The museum houses several unique dioramas built by Georgia Forestry Commission Forester Louie Deaton. Each diorama is intricately constructed and the details are impressive. Dioramas include a logging town, nursery operations, low hazard versus high hazard forest management, and a harvesting operation.
The Georgia Forestry Commission is responsible for all wildfire protection in the state of Georgia. GFC rangers have the equipment and training needed to fight even the toughest wildfires.
Near the front of the museum, visitors are welcomed by a beautiful mural that represents wildland firefighting. This mural was painted by Monroe Gaines, a Georgia Forestry Commission Ranger. Wildland firefighting equipment such as a fire shelter, hand crew tools and more are on display, including a wooden replica of a firefighting truck carved by Ranger Crumley in the 1950’s. There are several fire tower radios on display, including the first radio used by the Georgia Forestry Commission in 1935. Information about other forestry equipment is also featured.
Naval Stores & Forest Management
Pine sap was used predominantly in the 1930’s through the 1950’s to seal and waterproof naval ships, which is how the name “naval stores” came to be. A section of the museum is dedicated to naval stores and forest management practices. Visitors can explore different tools, techniques, and the history behind naval stores in this part of the museum.
Forest Use and Products
Different types of forest products are on display – from everyday products such as bath tissue, toothpaste and gum, to lumber, engineered wood, laminated board and a myriad of other products.