During a recent weeding session, I ran across an obscure little book titled Legends of Famous Trees. Published in 1963, this is an older book, but it’s filled with all kinds of tidbits about trees, particularly trees with ties to history. Among the trees discussed are trees connected to presidents as well as trees linked to other historical events and people. There’s even a section about odd "freak" trees. Here are some of my favorite entries:
The Forest of Fame
Located in Mount Vernon, Wisconsin, this forest features trees that have been transplanted from the homes of many presidents, famous generals, and important people associated with religion, science, music, and commerce. The forest was started by a University of Wisconsin professor on Arbor Day 1916 when he planted trees from George Washington’s home.
The Tree that Owns Itself
Located near Athens, Georgia, the owner of this tree bequeathed it to itself in a will in the late 19th century. It’s even recorded in the town clerk’s office! The original tree fell in 1942, but a new tree, known as the Son of the Tree That Owns Itself, was planted on the site of the old in 1946.
One of the largest trees in the world, Old Moses is located near Tule River in California. 240 feet tall with a 12-foot diameter where its top is broken off, it’s named for a nearby mountain and is estimated to be over 4,850 years old. The hollow of its trunk is 111 feet and can supposedly hold 150 people.
Found in many parts of the country, some of these trees have been trained to grow in unusual shapes, while others have always been odd. Some examples include an old elm in Connecticut that grew around a grave stone and the Cannibal Tree in Oregon, a Douglas fir that encloses an oak.
The Courthouse Tower Tree
Trees grow from the top of the tower at the courthouse in Greensburg, Indiana. By the time this book was written, a total of 11 trees had sprouted from the courthouse at various points in time. All but one had been removed at the time of this book’s printing in 1963, and one still grows from the tower today!
Unless you're a hardcore tree enthusiast, I wouldn't count any of these sites as ultimate road trip destinations. But if you enjoy nature, and you're passing through any of these places on the way to somewhere else, it seems like it'd be worth a side trip to see some trees you can't find in your own backyard.
Harris, Jessie Eubank. Legends of Famous Trees. Philadelphia: Dorrance and Company, 1963.