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Rachel Carson Homestead

Alle-Kiski

Rachel Carson Homestead

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Location Details

PHONE: 724-274-5459
ADDRESS: 613 Marion
Springdale, PA 15144
HOURS: Grounds and gardens are open to the public year round. Tours of the historic house are available year round by appointment.
COST: $5 for adults, $3 for senior adults and children over 5 years old, and free for children under 5

Event Details

Rachel's Sustable Feast, Late May

Description

There is a tone of familiarity in Mary Beth Trout’s voice as she tells the story of environmentalist Rachel Carson’s childhood.

Leading a tour through the family’s home in Springdale, Trout talks about Rachel, the little girl born in 1907 who could see the Allegheny River from her bedroom window; Rachel, the pre-teen whose article about her brother’s experiences in World War I was pub-lished in a children’s magazine; and Rachel, the young woman who set off for college to study English but instead discovered her true calling.

Although decades will forever separate Mary Beth and Rachel, Trout points out that they were both born and raised in the same neighborhood and both earned science degrees. She adds, “I will always remember reading that book.” “That book” is Silent Spring, Carson’s passionate and reasoned warning against the unbridled use of pesticides in general and DDT in particular. Published in 1962, it changed the way society thinks about the environment.

The world where Carson grew up was far less complicated, or so it may have seemed to a young girl coming of age in a time and place where heavy industry also was coming into its own. Rachel, often described as shy and reserved, had an inner strength of character that would define her life, and her life’s work. Perhaps that’s why her parents gladly struggled to pay the $1,000-a-year tuition at the Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College) in Pittsburgh. Graduating in 1928 with a degree in zoology, Carson went on to earn a Master of Arts in marine zoology from Johns Hopkins University. By 1932, she found herself working as a junior aquatic biologist for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries.

Hardly a glamorous job, it nonetheless gave Rachel Carson a voice. She began writing — first government documents and pamphlets, then articles for national magazines, and, ultimately, books. Her works include Under the Sea-Wind (1941), The Sea Around Us (1951), The Edge of the Sea (1955), Silent Spring (1962), and The Sense of Wonder (1965).

Sometimes labelled “a hysterical woman,” Carson never lost sight of her commitment to celebrate and conserve the world we call home. In 1963, she became the first woman to receive the National Audubon Society’s Audubon Medal. That same year, she was named the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservationist of the Year.

On April 14, 1964, Carson died of breast cancer in her home in Silver Spring, Maryland. Nearly two decades later, her memory was honored when she was posthumously given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The modest home at 613 Marion Ave. in Springdale —just downriver from the site of a former DDT manufacturing plant —stands as testament to her monumental achievements.

The fact that the house is still standing at all is a testament to the Rachel Carson Homestead Association. Founded in 1976, the organization fought to save the structure.

Restoration followed, and today the Association sponsors tours of the house and gardens, educational and outreach programs, and an annual Rachel Carson Day in late spring to commemorate her birthday.

“There is a quiet strength in this house,” Trout affirms.

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