The only virgin forest within the city limits
of any city in the USA.
Rome is the home to Marshall Forest -
the only virgin forest with in a city's limits in the United
States. It is also probably the only virgin forest in the Ridge
and Valley Province which extends from Pennsylvania to
Maclean Marshall, naturalist and
philanthropist, inherited the forest from his family who had
purchased the forest in 1880. The land had been preserved for
"preservation's sake". A large portion of the forest is
old-growth forest and much has never been cut by humans. It is
home to over 300 species of plants, as well as numerous
animals, mushrooms, and other living organisms.
On October 12, 1966, the Marshall
Forest was dedicated as a National Natural Landmark, the first
of its kind in the state of Georgia. In 1976, just before
Marshall's death, he gave the 100-acre forest and 120
additional acres of fields and woods to the Nature Conservancy
which is dedicated to "preserving unique" natural areas through
the United States.
Five nature trails exist on the
preserve along with a Braille Trail. The trails are self-guided
and travel on the southwest side of the forest, with plant
identification tags and 20 stations with plaques written in
Braille and English. The trail can be easily walked in 30
The forest is about 250 acres in size.
About 75 acres on the Coosa River flood plain was probably n
farmed at one time. Seventy acres on the Mt. Alto side of the
forest were added in 1985 and was not part of the original
Marshall estate. Only about 75 to 100 acres of the original
forest remains uncut.
Friends of the Marshall Forest is a
local group who, with the Georgia Chapter of the Nature
Conservancy, manage the park. Tours for students, scientists
and nature lovers are no longer offered.
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