Ed Bernik, with
Lisa Gensheimer
Pennsylvania Wilds: Images
from the Allegheny National Forest

(Forest Press, 2006)

"Beauty," says the poet, "is a joy forever." That being said, beauty alone might be incentive for buying this book.

The photographs in Pennsylvania Wilds are, indeed, beautiful. And the accompanying text is equally attractive. You might purchase this book and return to it time and again and find much enjoyment in its contents -- more than might be found in your ordinary coffee table book.

But there's much more to this book than just something nice to peruse.

It's a tribute to the Allegheny National Forest, the only one in the commonwealth and a genuine treasure. Established in 1923, the 513,000-acre forest is a monument to conservation and a source of pride for all Pennsylvanians. It's a boon to recreation, tourism and the economy.

For those who haven't visited, or are unable to, this book offers a wonderful introduction to the area's history and attractions. And, after viewing the images and text, there are undoubtedly going to be more people including it in their travel plans.

There are gems of history in this book -- about the Seneca, the lumbering and oil booms; Thomas Kane, reputed to be the first Pennsylvanian to enlist and who organized the famous Bucktails regiment in the Civil War; the legacy of the nation's first tree plantation and environmental pioneers like Joseph Rothrock and Gifford Pinchot.

Ed Bernik, a veteran commercial photographer, has captured an outstanding collection of images of the forest and its inhabitants. Lisa Gensheimer, a documentary producer and writer whose work has appeared nationwide on public television stations, lucidly outlines the history and color of the region.

As an added bonus, purchasers of the book also receive a Forest Companion CD complete with map, travel guide and additional reasons to visit the region.

by John R. Lindermuth
16 September 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.