About Dr. Ambler
The story of Rattlesnake Lodge is more than that
of land and buildings and
ruins. The editorial in the Asheville Citizen
upon the death of Dr. Ambler will
give the reader a better understanding of the
man behind the lodge.
Asheville Citizen-Times 6/6/32
Dr. Chase P. Ambler
For more than forty years
the life of Dr. Chase P. Ambler was bound up with that of Asheville and
of Western North Carolina. He came here as a young medical graduate, established
himself as a physician and specialist built for himself a brilliant and
constantly growing reputation in his profession, won the confidence and
affection of the community and asserted a leadership the fruits of which
have been of untold value already, with still richer promise for the immediate
future and for all the years to come.
Dr. Ambler was the father In Western
North Carolina of the movement which at length eventuated in the establishment
of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Someone, it is possible, may
have talked about a national park in this region before Dr. Ambler. The
first plans that took form and which were bodied Into action originated
with him. He had gone with his friend Judge Day of Ohio, on a fishing trip
into the Sapphire country and on this trip the idea which he was to push
from that time on took hold upon his imagination.
At his urging a parks and forestry
committee was formed by the Asheville Board of Trade, and this committee,
of which he was chairman, called a convention, held in this city November,
1899, the Appalachian National Park Association being then organized. Dr.
Ambler was secretary-treasurer and moving spirit of that association from
that time until its voluntary merger into the American Forestry Association
more than a quarter of a century later; and the Appalachian National Park
association did the work that resulted in the passage of the Weeks bill
of 1911, creating the Pisgah Forest Reservation it laid the foundations
of and built up the support for the conservation movement in this section.
It can be maintained with all confidence
that but for the Appalachian National Park Association the beauty of the
verdure of the mountains of Western North Carolina would long ago have
been ravaged, there would have been no Pisgah Forest Reservation, there
would have been no Smoky Mountains National Park. And but for Dr. Ambler
the Appalachian National Park Association would never have come into being
when it did, in time to save much of the priceless heritage of the past
centuries; would never have been the intelligent, purposeful, untiring,
persistent, persuasive, convincing and effective organization that it proved
itself to be.
The debt which this community owes
to Dr. Ambler is immense, incalculable. And not this community alone but
the entire region and the nation, our own generation and posterity.
Dr. Ambler's long and useful and
arduous efforts for forestry conservation, for the protection of wild life,
for the creation of A national park in Western North Carolina became the
major contribution of his life but they were Incidental to a busy practice
and a busy life. He found time for hunting and fishing and as one of the
organizers of the Audubon Society in Asheville helped to secure legislation
providing thirty years ago for hunting and fishing licenses in North Carolina
and the appointment of game wardens. He found time for Masonry and was
continuously active in Masonic work for thirty-seven years. He found time
for various other civic endeavors and it was during his presidency and
under his driving leadership that the Buncombe County Medical Society,
as long ago as 1903, succeeded, after a fight that had lasted for several
years, in securing the passage of an ordinance providing for meat and milk
inspection. He was a member of the Board of Trade for years. He did not
neglect the various associations of his own profession and his work and
writings in the field of pulmonary diseases were widely known and highly
regarded. He was outstanding as a medical specialist. If he had done nothing
else his professional record was so shining as to make him long remembered.
We have dwelt in this article, now
that he has passed on, upon the part that he had in the leadership of some
of the most permanently constructive activities in this part of the country.
But if we have emphasized this phase of his career it can be said also
that he was one of the most distinguished physicians of his time. He had
much to do with spreading the fame of Asheville as a resort for health
seekers. His knowledge and skill and reputation added to the repute in
which Asheville came to be held in this regard and the entire community
was the gainer through the successes which he achieved professionally.
It is not, given to many men to enjoy
so satisfying a career. Nor has Asheville numbered among the sons of her
adoption many from whose life and efforts she has benefited so generously
and in so many different ways.
Ambler. A 1953 Citizen-Times article about naming a peak
in the Smokies, states: "...(The Appalachian National Park Association)
was perfected and the forward movement was underway. The result was
the achievement of vast benefits for this mountain region. Today
we have national forests, a national park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, all
related directly or indirectly to that meeting here in 1899, for it aided
immeasurably in the creation of public sentiment that, through the years,
brought these proposals to realization. Dr. Ambler, through his years
of devotion to the cause of conservation, rendered outstanding service.
His memory deserves to be honored and it is entirely fitting that the mountain
in the Great Smokies bear his name." (Mt. Ambler is a 6,100-ft peak
2.5 miles NE of Newfound Gap.)
= = = =
Curtis Creek. In 1961, Dr.
Ambler was again recognized when a monument, shown below, was dedicated
to his memory. The very first purchase of national forest land in
the United States under the Week's Law was this 8,100 acre tract in Curtis
Creek, north of Old Fort and south of Big Laurel Gap. It became the
nucleus of the Pisgah National Forest.
Carolina Mountain Club.
Dr. Ambler was Chairman of the committee that formed the southern chapter
of the Appalachian Mountain Club in 1920. It was the forerunner of,
and was replaced by, the Carolina Mountain Club in 1923. Dr. Ambler
was one of the six incorporators of the CMC at that time.
= = =
One cannot help feeling that somewhere
above there is a man smiling about the use of "his" Rattlesnake Lodge land,
and "his" trails. He fulfilled a wonderful dream when he sold the
1,300 acres to the government Little did he know that after
his death the remaining lodge land would become government property.
Nor could he know that the trails he built in order for people to enjoy
the mountains would become part of the Mountain-to-Sea trail, and they
would be maintained by the Carolina Mountain Club.
Although the buildings are now gone,
the beauty of the place and the mountains can still be enjoyed. It
is hoped that it will continue to be protected by all who visit.