Author, naturalist, and nature guide John Bates will be the next guest of the Boulder Junction Public Library’s Neighbor to Neighbor Program series at 7 p.m. on July 25 at the Boulder Junction Community Center. The presentation will be “We Tan the World: Hemlock Bark Leather Tanning, A Forgotten History.”
Milwaukee led the world in tanning leather in the early 1900s, but tanneries were in operation throughout Wisconsin from the mid-1800s to the early 1920s. Most used hemlock bark for tanning the leather, so hemlock trees were cut down by the tens of millions to supply the tanneries, while thousands of people were employed around the state in the tanbark industry. It’s a history that few people remember, but it was a fascinating art and a hugely important part of early Wisconsin’s economy.
Bates is the author of nine books and a contributor to seven others, all of which focus on the natural history of the Northwoods. He’s worked as a naturalist in Wisconsin’s Northwoods for 29 years, leading an array of trips all designed to help people further understand the remarkable diversity and beauty of nature, and our place within it. His most recent book is “Our Living Ancestors: The History and Ecology of Old-Growth Forests in Wisconsin (and where to find them).”
This presentation is part of the Friends of the Boulder Junction Public Library’s free monthly Neighbor to Neighbor program series. All members of the public are welcome to attend, and refreshments will be served. For more information, call the library at 715-385-2050.