For the Love of Pine
equipment is a popular exhibit, and the onsite captive timber rattlesnake is a favorite for many visitors. Another exhibit, the restored 1946 Chevrolet panel truck outfitted with a generator and movie projector, celebrates the Conservation Department's early efforts to spread conservation messages to Ozark communities without electricity. But the traditional log cabin is likely the most popular feature on the grounds, Carden-Jessen says, because it shows how people in the Ozarks lived when the region was newly settled and how connected people were to the land and natural resources.
“I guess the point is that, maybe more here than in some places, the resources and the people can’t be separated,” she says, adding she’s spent hours looking at pictures and talking with people about their lives in the Ozarks.
Her favorite story from Twin Pines CEC relates to the initials carved on a desk in the Van Schoolhouse. “A grandchild recognized the initials carved into the desk, but the ones with it were not grandma’s,” Carden-Jessen says. “I told them grandpa made the right choice and not to worry about it.”
The Grandin display in the center’s large exhibit hall brings patrons back to the logging boom and how it affected the region. Some visitors remember their grandparents telling stories about Grandin or share stories of how they were born in one of the worker houses there.
“Where the hardwoods once hugged the river valleys, we now have our few hay fields, and where once stood the park-like lofty pine, forests are often crowded oak-hickory with a thick understory and ground cover,” Carden-Jessen says.
But at Twin Pines, the center is nestled in lofty pines that sway with the wind, reminiscent of how Schoolcraft might have seen the Ozarks—abounding with native plant and wildlife species. This is most likely why staff and patrons have sighted 63 bird species from the center’s oversized deck and surrounding bird viewing area.
“It’s like watching a maestro lead the feathered orchestra in the forest symphony,” Carden-Jessen says. “A few minutes on the porch can’t help but fill your heart with the same song that fills the air.”