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Colonel Hubbard W. Shawhan, (November 28, 1890 – August 31, 1954) was West Virginia’s first official State Forester, and the first director of the West Virginia Conservation Commission. Born in Cynthiana, Kentucky, Shawhan was educated in Virginia and North Carolina public schools. He graduated from Asheville High School in 1908, and entered the civil engineering program at the University of Kentucky the following year. He interviewed with Dr. Carl A. Schenck, head of the Biltmore Forest School in Sunburst, North Carolina (the first forestry school in the United States) in the summer of 1908. Shawhan was given the number 92 slot on a waiting list. He joined the School in May 1913 and attended classes and field lectures at Sunburst; Cadillac, Michigan; and Mansfield, Oregon, graduating in the fall of 1913.

Shawhan remained on the Pacific Coast until October 1915. During that time, he was employed by C.A. Smith Timber Company as a mill-hand, a compass man, and as a forester gathering tree seed, planting seedlings and providing other forestry work. He spent two seasons as a Weeks Law Fire Patrolman

Returning east, Shawhan was employed by the W.M. Ritter Lumber Company in West Virginia in November 1915. As a forester with W. M. Ritter, he cruised timber, made scientific stumpage appraisals, fought forest fires and supervised 50,000 acres of coal and woodlands

Shawhan married Mary Kaye Alves, his college girlfriend, in El Paso, Texas, on April 18, 1917. He then entered Second Officers Training Camp and graduated with a commission as a First Lieutenant, Coast Artillery, in November 1917. Serving at Fort Caswell, North Carolina, and then in France until January 1919, he was discharged with the rank of Captain, Officers Reserve Corps and promoted to Major in 1929.

In 1931 Shawhan left the W.M. Ritter Lumber Company and practiced as a consulting forester until April 1933, when he was employed by the State of West Virginia as the first official State Forester. In February 1934 Governor Herman Guy Kump appointed him Director of the newly created Conservation Commission in charge of Game, Fish, Forestry and State Parks. In April 1934 the state legislature appropriated $75,000 for the purchase of public lands; in combination with additional federal funds, Shawhan oversaw the purchase of 102,000 acres of mountain lands for the state. With the aid of some 28 camps of the Civilian Conservation Corps, he also supervised the development of them as state parks and state forests. Shawhan successfully wrote and helped secure passage of many of the early forestry and conservation laws adopted by the legislature.

Shawhan served as the director of the Conservation Commission until March 1941, when he was called to active duty by the U.S. Army and assigned as the Commanding Officer of the West Virginia Recruiting District (Selective Service). After 13 months, he was transferred to Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. Although too old to go overseas, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and served at Fort Moultrie until he was found to be incapacitated for military service and retired on a physical disability in November 1944.

After the war, Shawhan became President of the Appalachian Wood Preserving Company, with treatment plants located at Panther, West Virginia, and Goshen, Virginia. He retired to his home in Charleston in 1951. Col. Shawan died in 1954 at his farm in Virginia.

Shawhan was a member of the American Legion, the Reserve Officers Association, the Society of American Foresters (elected to membership in 1923), the International Association of Game, Fish and Conservation Commissioners, the Army and Navy Club of Charleston and Edgewood Country Club.

This Article was written by Robert Beanblossom

Last Revised on December 03, 2020


Charleston Daily Mail, September 1, 1954.

Dr. Carl A. Schenck. The Biltmore Immortals. Germany: L.C. Wittich, 1953.

Cite This Article

Beanblossom, Robert "Hubbard W. Shawhan." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 03 December 2020. Web. 29 May 2024.


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