The nation's initial USFS research site commenced in a rustic cabin in the midst of northern Arizona's expansive ponderosa pine forest. Gustaf A. Pearson was the first in a distinguished line of USFS scientists to live and study there. A visitor to Fort Valley today often wishes he could have stood in Pearson's large boots (he was said to have enormous feet) as he and his early compatriots were true pioneers on a journey toward understanding nature's methods of ponderosa pine regeneration. Over the past century, their efforts have been honed into an extensive foundation of silviculture, range and watershed research that benefits current and future researchers. The pioneering seeds of techniques they sowed and carefully nurtured have grown into modus operandi for scientists. The tree Raphael Zon planted is now a towering, stately ponderosa pine that proffers progress in science, knowledge, and preservation. This historic spot and its scientific yields have earned celebration and acknowledgment. This paper looks at the cultural history of FVEF and provides introduction to the subsequent papers in these proceedings.