Herman H. Chapman (1898 - 1904)
Herman H. Chapman, a native of Massachusetts and a graduate of the University of Minnesota, became superintendent of the station in 1898. Previous to his appointment he had spent parts of eight years traveling large areas of northern Minnesota. His approach to the operation of the new sub-station was that of prudence and economy. He was an early promoter of land-use study and classification. He felt that land should be placed at its highest potential use. Good, potentially tillable land should be opened for farming, he thought, while the major portion of land in Northeast Minnesota should be returned to its natural use of producing trees.
Superintendent Chapman is remembered for his forestry work, but the early development of the station moved forward in other directions as well. The plans that were started for agronomic, horticultural, and livestock work were carried out and the early building program was underway. The North Central Experiment Station has a living memorial to this farsighted man. In 1900 he established a forestry plantation, now known as the Chapman Forestry Plantation, on an area of rough, rocky land on the west side of the station.
After a few years, Mr. Chapman met with some controversy. He became convinced that no matter which varieties would be grown, agriculture crops would in the end be an unprofitable enterprise on some soils in northeast Minnesota. There was a feeling in the North that he failed to push agricultural experiments with all possible vigor and was spending too much time carefully observing trees for silvicultural data. Matters came to a head when at a meeting of the American Forestry Association in Minneapolis he presented a paper on the ultimate use of cut-over lands for the best economic purpose, suggesting that these lands be allowed to revert to forest and that experimentation should be directed toward the problem of maintaining and reforesting these timber lands. Apparently this did not sit well with farmers and newspapers editors in the North or with land companies wishing to sell agricultural land.
Mr. Chapman resigned his position as superintendent in 1904 and left Grand Rapids for Yale University where he became a professor of forestry and later headed the Forestry Department at Yale. He made several visits to North Central with his last in the early 1960's shortly before his death.