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Aerial View of Forest Fire, North of Middletown, 1939

Forest Fire in Adirondacks
New York State Archives, NYSA_14297-87_2545
 
Document Description
Aerial view of a forest fire burning north of Middletown, New York, in the Catskill Mountains region, May 16, 1939.
 
Questions
What is the source of water in the city?
What is the source of water in the country?
What effect do these different sources have on firefighting?
Compare this photograph to the photographs of fires in New York City. How does the environment affect firefighting measures?
 
Historical Challenges
Research the origins of Smokey the Bear.
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Write a newspaper article as if it were the year 1900 that describes safety precautions one must take to prevent forest fires.
Art: Create a poster for fire safety week.
 
Resources
Beil, Karen Magnuson. Fire in Their Eyes: Wildfires and the People Who Fight Them. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1999. ISBN: 0152010432
George, Jean Craighead. Fire Storm. New York: K. Tegen Books, 2003. ISBN: 0060002638, 0060002646
Godkin, Celia. Fire!. Markham, Ont.: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2006. ISBN: 1550418890
Landau, Elaine. Smokejumpers. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 2002. ISBN: 0761323244
Lauber, Patricia. Summer of Fire: Yellowstone, 1988. New York: Orchard Books, 1991. ISBN: 0531085430
Morrison, Taylor. Wildfire. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. ISBN: 0618509003
Patent, Dorothy Hinshaw. Fire: Friend or Foe. New York: Clarion, 1998. ISBN: 0395730813.
Nobisso, Josephine. John Blair and the Great Hinkley Fire. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. ISBN: 0618015604.
Morrison, Ellen Earnhardt. Guardian of the Forest: A History of Smokey Bear and the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention Program. Alexandria, VA: Morielle Press, 1995. ISBN: 0962253758.
Podskoch, Martin. Adirondack Fire Towers: Their History and Lore, The Southern Districts. Fleischmanns, NY: Purple Mountain Press, 2003. ISBN: 1930098464.
Podskoch, Martin. Adirondack Fire Towers: Their History and Lore, The Northern Districts. Fleischmanns, NY: Purple Mountain Press, 2005. ISBN: 1930098677.
 

Historical Context
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a multitude of large, dangerous, and expensive forest fires caused New York State to dedicate new manpower and develop new technologies for reporting forest fires throughout the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The "great fires" of 1903 and 1908, which consumed nearly one million acres of forest, led to the creation of fire districts with fire superintendents, fire patrolmen, and a systematic approach to address citizens' concerns about forest fire management in the Adirondacks. In 1909, the first Adirondack fire tower was built.
 
Essential Question
How do human settlement patterns impact the environment?
 
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain the role of human activity in the situation depicted.