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Manuscript Group 517
O. BEN GIPPLE PAPERS
1937-1975
(1 carton)



Pennsylvania's ninth state forester, Oliver Benjamin Gipple, was born August 15, 1890 in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. He received his forestry degree from the Pennsylvania State College in 1915 and was promptly hired as city forester by the city of Harrisburg. He enlisted as a private in the Army 10th Engineers Forestry Unit during World War I where he served in France and was discharged as a first lieutenant in June 1919. After the war he worked as a forester for the Endeavor Lumber Company before returning to Harrisburg as city forester. From 1925 to 1943 he owned and operated his own tree nursery, explored for oil and gas in New York, worked again for the city of Harrisburg, and served a term on the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

On December 13, 1943, Gipple was hired as chief of the Division of Management by the Bureau of Forestry. During World War II he directed efforts to increase timber sales from state forests. On December 15, 1947 Gipple was promoted to state forester. In 1948 the statewide radio system was completed linking the department's 150 forest fire observation towers, the headquarters, and the district forest offices. (While the first radios had arrived in some fire towers during the 1930s, those "portable" models had weighed more than twenty-five pounds and were equipped with bulky antennas that were difficult to erect properly.) During his tenure as state forester, Gipple also initiated the first detailed state forest management plans in which aerial photography was employed to obtain detailed information about the forests. After Samuel S. Lewis replaced Admiral Milo Draemel as the Secretary of the Department of Forests and Waters in 1951, O. Ben Gipple resigned from the department on December 31, 1952. During the 1960s Gipple was appointed head of the Harrisburg City Shade Tree Commission and also served as a member of the Dauphin County Board of View. He died in 1971.

These papers consist of correspondence, photographs, brochures, magazines, news releases and reports. For related material see also the O. Ben Gipple Collection (Manuscript Group 789) at the Historical Society of Dauphin County.


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