D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections and University Archives


M2011.06.01-10 ; OS2011.06.01-02

Walter Julius Damtoft, [dam_portrait001],  D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, UNC Asheville

Title Walter Julius Damtoft Collection
Identifier http://toto.lib.unca.edu/findingaids/mss/damtoft_walter_j/default_damtoft_w_j.htm
Creator Walter Julius Damtoft
Alt. Creator Walter Atkinson Damtoft  (1922-2011) and Family
Alt .Creator Russell Damtoft (grandson)
Alt. Creator Ann Elizabeth Damtoft Campbell  (1926 - )  (daughter)
Subject Keyword Walter Julius Damtoft ;  Carl Alwin Schenck ; Gifford Pinchot ;  John D. Veach ;  Peter J. Hanlon ; James K. Vessey ;  Verne Rhoades ; Harry Rossell ; Cradle of Forestry in America ; Biltmore Estate (Asheville, N.C.) ; Biltmore Forest School ; Pisgah National Forest ; Nantahala National Forest ; U.S. Forest Service ; "Olmstead Lands";  Reuben Robertson ; Weeks Law ; Yale Forest School ;
Subject LCSH Damtoft, Walter Julius
Hanlon, Peter J.
Vessey, James K.
Rhoades, Verne
Cliff, Ed
Conger, Edwin
Craig, James B. 
Erickson, H. C. 
Evenson, C.M. 
Foss, Gilbert A. 
Gilmore, Voigt
Hensley, Charles
Huber, W.W.
Nelson, Art W.
National Forests of North Carolina
Pomeroy, Kenneth B.
Preston, R.J.
Rhoades, Dorthea
Robertson, Reuben
Rossell, Harry
Schlapfer, T.A.
Schultz, E.W.
Schenck, Carl Alwin, 1868-1955
Towell, William E. (Bill)
Veach, John D.
Veach, Jane
Biltmore Estate (Asheville, N.C.)
Biltmore Forest School (1898-1913)
Biltmore Forest School -- History
Biltmore Forest School -- Students
Cradle of Forestry in America
Forests and forestry -- North Carolina
Forests and forestry -- United States
Forest Policy -- United States
Old growth forests -- North Carolina 
Pisgah National Forest (N.C.)
United States. Dept. of Agriculture
United States.  Forest Service.  Southern Region
Yale School of Forestry -- History
Yale School of Forestry -- Students
Description The collection consists of two cartons of materials collected by Walter Julius Damtoft, Jr. and his family that document the life-work of Walter Julius Damtoft, Sr. .  Damtoft is recognized as the first industrial forester in the United States a profession he created when he was hired by Champion Paper Company in Canton, North Carolina.  He was a graduate of Yale Forest School and was associated with members of the Biltmore Forestry School who created what is now known as the "Cradle of Forestry in America," in western North Carolina.  Damtoft was a significant figure in the history of forestry in the United States. This collection contains material from Damtoft's years as a Yale student, some early history of the Biltmore Forest School, which operated from 1898 to 1913 under the leadership of German-born forester Carl Alwin Schenck (1868-1955), and materials that documents the broader history of national forests in western North Carolina, especially the Nantahala and the Pisgah national forests.

The significant body of material related to  Damtoft's career with Champion Paper Company as the first Industrial Forester in the US, is noteworthy. Also included are articles, photographs,  and correspondence related to the Forest School at Yale University and later his association with the U.S. Signal Corps.   A life -long contributor to civic life in western North Carolina, Damtoft 's wise and generous contributions to the region are well described by this collection. Many of the highlights of Damtoft's work in the field of  forestry complements the larger USFS Photograph Collection and the National Forests of North Carolina Archive, both held by UNCA Ramsey Library Special Collections.

Physically the collection consists of correspondence, brochures, pamphlets, maps, scrapbooks,  newspaper clippings, reprinted journal articles and photographs. One folder of newspaper clippings regarding the 1961 celebration of the anniversary of the Weeks Law  will be of particular interest to researchers as will the early photographs of the Biltmore Forest School and details of the early Forest School at Yale University. The collection dates from the early 1900s to the late 1970s. 

A second donation included a large and remarkable hand-woven Appalachian coverlet and numerous photographs of the early Yale Forest School Camp in Milford, Pennsylvania in the early years of the twentieth-century.  A small collection of photographs taken when Damtoft visited Brazil to review forestry practice in Brazilian forests was also found among the many photographs.

Publisher D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville
Contributor Champion Paper and Fiber Company, Canton, NC
Date Digital creation: 2011-08-14
Type collection ; text ; images
Format  3 linear ft  [three cartons]
Source M2011.06.01-10 ; OS2011.06.01- 02
Language English
Relation -
Is related to
Oral History, Forest History Society, Duke University -  Development of Forestry in the Southern United States Oral History Interviews, 1958 - 1976 ; Forest History Society, Duke University  ; Reuben Robertson Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, UNC Asheville ; William Nothstein Oral History, D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, UNC Asheville ; Peter Hanlon and James K. Vessey Collection,  D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, UNC Asheville.
Coverage 1900 - present ; Asheville, NC ; western North Carolina 
Rights No restrictions. Any display, publication, or public use must credit the D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville.
Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law.  
Donor  Donor no. 402
Acquisition 2011-08-12  ; 2011-10-24 ;
Citation Walter Julius Damtoft Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804.
Processed by D.H. Ramsey Library Special Collections staff, 2011-08-14 hw ; 2011-10-26 hw ; 2013 cr
Biography In 1978 a generous gift was given to Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies from Champion International Corporation.  The gift established the Champion International/Walter J. Damtoft Study Tour, which enables students in the Yale Forestry School to visit significant forest industry locations in the United States.  Walter J. Damtoft,  who was honored by the large donation to Yale, began his life's work while a student at the School of Forestry.  The gift is a "fitting tribute to his work" said L.C. Heist, the vice President of Champion International Corporation. Damtoft died in 1976 and was not present for the many accolades that came his way from Champion, his Yale classmates, his friends and the profession of forestry.  His work at Champion as the country's first industrial forester began in 1920 and was only one segment of an extraordinary career.

A native of Connecticut, Damtoft was educated in the Prospect St. Grammar School,  Bridgeport, Connecticut.

A graduate of the Yale School of Forestry in 1911, Damtoft had one of the most distinguished careers in the profession of forestry.   What his distinguished career describes was the estimate given by the School of Damtoft's performance while enrolled and the fact that Damtoft's diploma was held back as he was deemed to be a student who "lacked maturity of purposeful effort." What this really meant was that Damtoft was remarkably young to be receiving the Masters diploma from the Forest School and to be doing so in one year.  While he did not graduate from the Biltmore Forest School nor have any academic association with the local school, he was given an honorary degree of "Bachelor of Biltmore Forestry and Fellow of the Biltmore Union" by his fellow foresters.  

Damtoft is known for his industrial conservation practices and his dedication to the restoration of the land that supports forest growth.  His principles of selective timber cutting which acknowledged the importance of retaining seed trees, placed him among the most responsible of foresters practicing in the early years of the twentieth-century. His work with the Appalachian Spruce forest was ground-breaking.  The spruce forests high on Roan Mountain are the result of his work in encouraging growth of the species on cut-over land.  And, when the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was created and the high-elevation spruce resources were preserved for the park and not for commercial harvesting, Damtoft shifted his attention to the use of lower elevation trees and to the products derived from chestnut wood, particularly tannin.  When the chestnut blight began to ravage the forests in the 1930s, Damtoft worked to save the species by attempting to create alternate resistant species.  His early work has finally been realized in the recent efforts to save the chestnut tree by the national Chestnut Society and the new hybrid species that is experiencing a come-back in the southern Appalachians. .

Damtoft was a model of civic engagement.  He was an active member of the N.C. Board of Conservation and Development ; Chairman of the Asheville Housing Authority ; Trustee of Memorial Mission Hospital ; Chairman of the Canton Planning Committee ; Chairman of the District Board of Appeal of the Selective Service System ; General Chairman of the Southern Governor's Conference , Asheville 1947 ; Member of the Board of managers of Wachovia Bank and Trust Co., Asheville ; President of the N.C. Industrial Council ; Director of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce ; President of the N.C. Traffic League ; Secretary of the Western North Carolina Committee for the Development of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park ; President of the Canton Civic Club ; President of the West Asheville Business Men's Club ; Member of the Asheville Pen and Plate Club ; Member of the Newcomer Society ; Member of the Downtown Club ; Member of the Mountain City Club ; Member of the Biltmore Forest Country Club ; Member of the Trinity Episcopal Church.

Damtoft married Dorothy Atkinson in September of 1921.  Dorothy was a native of Asheville and they gave birth to a son, Walter A. Damtoft and a daughter, Ann Damtoft Campbell.  Walter J. Damtoft's first wife, Vivian Keen Martin Damtoft died in the flu epidemic of 1918.

For a comprehensive review of Damtoft's life and work consult  the oral history taken by Elwood R. Maunder, University of Florida Ph.D in 1959.  The oral history covers his life in detail and provides insight into his relationships with other foresters. This comprehensive oral history may be found, fully transcribed, in the Forest History Society collections, here: http://www.foresthistory.org/research/Biltmore_Project/USForestryOHIs.html#s2


Chronology Birth Son of Knud J. and Dagmar Damtoft.
  1903-1907 Student at Prospect St. Grammar School, Bridgeport, Connecticut
  1910 B.A. Philosophy.  Yale University, Sheffield Scientific School.
  1911 Master of Forestry.  Yale University, Yale Forest School. 
  1911-1917 Forest Examiner for the U.S. Forest Service for seven states
  1917-1919 Administrative Assistant in the Pisgah National Forest Headquarters
  1918 First wife, Vivian Keen Martin Damtoft, dies in the great flu epidemic.
  1920-1950 Chief Forester and Assistant Secretary and Assistant Division Manager of Champion Paper and Fiber Co., Canton, NC.

General Manager of Hamilton Laboratories, Inc., Asheville, NC (a Champion subsidiary.)

  1950 Assistant Secretary-Treasurer and Director of the General Woods Department of Champion.
  1951 Acting Director of the Forest Products Division, Office of Price Stabilization, Washington D.C.
  1951 Returned to Champion Paper and Fiber Co., Canton, NC
  1958 Retirement from Champion Paper and Fiber Co., Canton, NC
  1958 Honorary Secretary of Champion Paper and Fiber Company (CPFCo)
Series listings  

Box 1

Series 1 Biographical Information
    Awards and Certificates
Box 2 Series 2 General Correspondence
Box 3 Series 3 Personal Correspondence

Box 4

Series 4 Writing  (Published articles, Speeches, Radio, Newspaper commentary, etc.)

Box 5

Series 5 Champion Paper Company

Box 6

Series 6 Newspaper Clippings - Miscellaneous

Box 6

  Newspaper Clippings - Weeks Law Celebration [50th anniversary of the law establishing National Forests]

Box 6

  Newspaper Clippings - Reuben Robertson [Primary covering the death of Rueben B. Robertson Jr. in an auto accident]

Boxes 7 and 8

Series 7 Miscellaneous Publications  - primarily covering forestry conservation, including many on the creation, and history, of the Cradle of Forestry. Additionally, Champion Paper journals, Yale School  of Forestry and Biltmore Forest School publications, and some general material on western North Carolina are also included.

Box 9

Series 8 Photograph Album - a collection of mostly untitled and undated photographs of:

forestry workers and forest scenes (circa1910's or 1920's?) and forest school students [some are captioned Yale Forest School Camp] ;

paper mills ;

unidentified people (family photographs?) ;

Colorado, Canada and (Brazil?)

    Schenck's old white pine plantation at Biltmore - 12 photographs taken between 1897 and 1970, and an article by Lino Della-Bianca, describing a plantation established in 1899 by Carl A. Schenck

(Pages removed from a scrapbook?)

Box 10

Series 9 Loose Photographs  (1900 - 1960s)

Primarily  forestry scenes / forestry workers from early 20th century and some portraits of Damtoft

Further forest scenes / forestry workers, thought to be pre World War II era, but also some photographs of Damtoft, including several that appear to be later in date

Primarily Yale Forest School and N.C. Board of Conservation and Development, but also includes images from the Champion Paper and Fibre Company and some family photographs

Various forest scenes and an assortment of formal photographs. Also includes some view of forest land, possibly farmed by Campion Fibre.

Twenty contact prints of pages from what was likely publicity material for the Whiting Manufacturing Company. The images show forest tracts, most probably in Graham County, NC, and include captions describing the trees and locations. All images are credited to "A M Lumberman, photo and eng".

Photographs taken during Damtoft's 1958 visit to Brazil. The trip seems primarily seems to have been to visit Champion's mill and images of this are included, along with forest scenes, along with images of native tribesmen, ranchers and more general 'tourist' photos.

Negatives of some of the above photographs

OS Box 1 to 4

Series 10 Oversized Items and Objects, including scrapbooks of newspaper clippings and awards presented to Walter J. Damtoft