Aug 18 2009
Today I have an excuse to write about the little girl in this picture. She’s Rachel Carson, one of my heroes, pictured here with her brother and sister beside the Allegheny River, circa 1915.
Rachel Carson was born in Springdale and grew up with the Allegheny River as her playground. She eventually studied marine biology and zoology and worked for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She also wrote many books, including The Sea Around Us, but her most famous book was Silent Spring in which she described the dangers of the indiscriminate use of pesticides and herbicides. Birds prompted her to write the book, sparked by a letter from a friend who described birds dying on the spot after aerial pesticide spraying.
When the book was published in 1962 Rachel Carson was attacked by the chemical industry and labeled as an emotional person who didn’t know what she was talking about. Neither was true. Silent Spring took the country by storm. Ten years later Congress outlawed DDT making it possible for birds of prey – including the peregrine falcon – to make a comeback. Thank you, Rachel Carson!
Besides the chance to talk about peregrines, my real excuse for writing about Rachel Carson is that she’s one of the many people featured in Rick Sebak’s new show — Right Beside The River – premiering this Thursday August 20 at 8:00pm on WQED. It’s a whimsical look at the people, communities and activities that have sprung up along the rivers in our area. You’ll like it. Thursday, 8:00pm.
(photo courtesy of Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University)