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Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation


Institute provided images for Iron Garden plaques

30 October 2014

Despite man's best efforts, nature has a way of reclaiming what was once hers. When the Carrie Furnaces in Rankin and Swissvale closed, the tenacious native and aggressive invasive plants moved in. Soon a wild garden was thriving where molten iron once flowed. To guide visitors at the National Historic Landmark Carrie Furnaces site while embracing its molten past, 10 interpretive iron plaques were created for the Carrie Furnaces Iron Garden Walk. Through a partnership with Rivers of Steel, members of the Penn State Master Gardener Program of Allegheny County identified the plants and wrote the text for the plaques. The Hunt Institute provided botanical illustrations of over 30 genera from our Hitchcock-Chase Collection of Grass Drawings and USDA Forest Service Collection and by the artists Harry Ardell Allard (1880–1963), Ethel Hinckley Hausmann (fl.1918–1948) and F. Schuyler Matthews (1854–1938) as well as other engravings from the Art and Library collections. For the pollen problems plaque (see photo), we supplied the goldenrod from an ink on paper by F. Schuyler Mathews for Joseph E. Harned, Wild Flowers of the Alleghenies (Oakland, Maryland, by the author, 1931, p. 512, HI Art accession no. 7468.119) and the ragweed from an ink on paper by Ethel Hinckley Hausman for her Beginner's Guide to Wild Flowers (New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1948, p. 359, HI Art accession no. 6341.359). Artists, including a Carnegie Mellon University art professor and his sculpture students, and experts in casting molten iron were involved in the creation and casting of the plaques, which are expected to be installed next spring along the garden walk.

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About the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, a research division of Carnegie Mellon University, specializes in the history of botany and all aspects of plant science and serves the international scientific community through research and documentation. To this end, the Institute acquires and maintains authoritative collections of books, plant images, manuscripts, portraits and data files, and provides publications and other modes of information service. The Institute meets the reference needs of botanists, biologists, historians, conservationists, librarians, bibliographers and the public at large, especially those concerned with any aspect of the North American flora.

Media Contact:
Scarlett T. Townsend