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The Book 1958 Online 2008 The Region Conservation
Penn's Woods West

A half-century ago the University of Pittsburgh Press published a landmark book about the wildlands and rural countryside of western Pennsylvania. Edwin Peterson's thoughtful prose and Thomas Jarrett's photographic documentary inspired a generation of conservationists who succeeded in preserving many of the special places the pair visited.

To mark the 50th anniversary of that book, this website was launched in 2008. With permission from the University of Pittsburgh Press, the entire book is being digitized to be accessible online. The website will offer an exhibit of photos, maps, audio and multimedia that revisit the special natural areas and backroads, that Peterson and Jarrett explored 50 years ago.

Pittsburgh has always had voices for the environment. Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring was like a shot heard 'round the world during that same era, published in 1962. And 50 years later, Hollywood's Matt Damon came to Pittsburgh to film Promised Land about gas drilling and fracking.

The goal of this project is to honor the pioneering conservation work that led to the modern environmental movement and to share first-hand accounts, such as Penn's Woods West,by those who observed and participated in it. Building on those efforts of the past century, we want to provide a portal to the growing online network of 21st century nature lovers and outdoorspeople, educators and conservations, and anyone who wishes to work toward the continued protection of Penn's Woods West.

Please bookmark this page and watch as we grow a virtual community and environmental action network. To contribute to the project or be placed on our email list, contact

Any "news tips" for this site, or biographical information about the author, Pitt professor Edwin Peterson, or the whereabouts of his family would be greatly appreciated.

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Photography copyright Phil Norton 2008