By Terri Horvath
Take a walk through some of Carmel’s oldest neighborhoods, and you’ll find tree-lined streets in most areas. These represent a controlled growth though the years to conserve a part of a densely wooded area you would have found in the mid-1800’s. About 200 years ago, forests covered about 85 percent of the state. Yet, by the early 1900’s, most of the land had been cleared to make room for agricultural and industrial progress.
At the time, Carmel’s wooded areas still had a few old mammoths waiting to come down to make room for crops and homes. In fact, loggers were frequently seen near Carmel’s railroad waiting to transport their goods.
Pictured here on October 6, 1907 was the largest tree, 9,872 feet of lumber, ever cut prior to that time. Standing next to the haul was 17 year-old Frank Aldred, who was born and raised in Carmel and died December 25, 1963. In the background is Carmel’s old grist mill, which sat next to the railroad tracks.
Aldred was one of many Indiana residents who profited from Indiana’s abundant lumber supply. In fact, Charles Deam, a state forester, saw that the profits were hard to ignore. He predicted in 1922 that Indiana would be treeless in 15 years. The lumber industry took notice and started conservation measures. Forests now comprise about 20 percent of Indiana or 4.5 million acres.