This chapter describes the story of the chestnut blight epidemic in the eastern United States, a fungal disease that reshaped the entire landscape. The chestnut was a dominant tree in American hardwood forests until the introduction of the pathogen to the Bronx Zoo in 1904. The blight then spread southwestward astride the Appalachians at a rate of 24 miles per year until every mature chestnut was infected by the 1950s. This chapter explores the ways in which a single fungal disease ravaged local and regional economies, liquidated livelihoods, and ruined, or at least, profoundly altered, the ecology of woodlands.
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