Posts Tagged ‘Frank Cheley’

Books by Horace Kephart and David Wescott

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

I’ve recently mentioned Horace Kephart so of course I should recommend his book “Camping and Woodcraft“.

Horace Kephart was a Yale graduate, scholar and university librarian who also wrote Our Southern Highlanders, a popular geography and history of the southern Appalachian and Great Smoky Mountain region.  He was also an authority on camping, mostly learned through many years of solitary mountain living.  He was one of the best known outdoor writers of the Woodcraft period and was known as the “Dean of American Campers”.  A popular knife of his design was sold under the name of the “Kephart Knife” and his recommendations of methods or equipment were highly valued.  He is also recognized as a leader in the movement to establish Great Smoky Mountains National Park.   Camping & Woodcraft was first published as a single volume in 1909.  By the ‘teens it had been divided into two separate volumes and then as a “two-in-one” volume by the 1940’s, which is still in print today.  This a a great book and more than an introduction to old time woods skills.  It is a virtual woodcraft encyclopedia.  I’ve been greatly influenced by Kephart.  I own a new version of the Kephart knife, a modern rendition of his tiny “pocket axe”, and am in the process of sewing up a “Royce” tent, a model that he highly recommended.

The other book I want to mention is “Camping in the Old Style” by David Wescott.

Author: David Wescott, Publisher: Gibbs-Smith Publishing, (2000)

After reading virtually every book on camping and woodcraft published from 1877 up through the early 1940s, I’ve discovered that some speak to me more than others.  You no doubt will find the same.  Instead of searching for all of these old books, you can simply buy Dave Wescott’s Camping in the Old Style, a compendium of the writings of all the famous old woodcrafters.  Camping In The Old Style draws from many of the best woodcraft experts of a century ago, to cohesively incorporate their thoughts on the subjects of camp equipage, camp tools, camp cookery, camp life and all other aspects of the subject.  Wescott has distilled the writings of Nessmuk, Horace Kephart, Ernest Thompson Seton, Daniel Carter Beard, James Austin Wilder, E. H. Kreps, Frank Cheley, Philip Fagans, and Warren Miller into vignettes that address each category of woodcraft ~ Furnishing the Camp and Camper, The Traditional Canvas Shelter, Over the Open Fire, Life in Camp, and Life on the Trail.  In addition to well-known authors such as Nessmuk and Kephart, Wescott has wisely chosen to include the writings of less familiar woodsmen who now have been largely forgotten.  You can easily and quickly find what any of the old experts had to say about tentage, or pitching camp, or ax use, or dressing for the outdoors, etc.  The book includes many of the original illustrations from the original books enhanced by the use of appropriate vintage photographs.  What I like best about this book is that Wescott includes a woodcraft “training regimen” that he developed to provide the criteria for learning woodcraft skills.  As more and more skills are mastered, the novice works up through the “ranks” of “Apprentice Camper”, “Journeyman Camper”, “Journeyman Woodsman”, and “Master Woodsman”.  I am currently using this guide for my own woodcraft education.  Unfortunately, Camping in the Old Style is currently out of print but is still widely available.