Set in what remains some of the wildest country in the United
States, Sound Wormy recalls a time when regulations were
few and resources were abundant for the southern lumber industry.
In 1901 Andrew Gennett put all of his money into a tract of timber
along the Chattooga River watershed, which traverses parts of
Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. By the time he wrote
his memoir almost forty years later, Gennett had outwitted and
outworked countless competitors in the southern mountains to make
his mark as one of the region's most seasoned, innovative, and
His recollections of a rough-and-ready outdoors life are filled
with details of logging, from the first "cruise" of a timber stand
to the moment when the last board lies "on sticks" in the mill
yard. He tells how massive poplars, oaks, and other hardwoods had
to be felled and trimmed by hand, dragged down mountain slopes by
draft animals, floated downstream or carried by rail to the mill,
and then sawn, graded, and stacked for drying. He tells of buying
timber rights in a land market filled with "sharp" operators, where
titles and surveys were often contested and kinship and custom were
on an equal footing with the law.
Gennett saw more than potential "boardfeet" when he looked at a
tree. He recalls, for instance, his efforts to convince the U.S.
Forest Service to purchase undisturbed areas of wilderness at a
time when its mandate was to condemn and buy up farmed-out and
clear-cut land. One such sale initiated by Gennett would become the
Joyce Kilmer Wilderness in North Carolina.
Filled with logging lore and portraits of the southern mountains
and their people, Sound Wormy adds an absorbing new
chapter to the region's natural and environmental history.