Tree Appreciation: Oregon Heritage Tree Program
By the time Oregon became a United States territory in 1848, the huge Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana) growing in today’s Oregon Garden in Silverton was already over 200 years old. The ‘Waldo Tree’ is a mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) growing at Island Lake near Klamath Falls. It was carved in the late 1800s by a group of dedicated conservationists who lobbied for the groundbreaking 4.5 million acre forest reserve legislation enacted in 1893. If you have ever enjoyed recreating in one of the national forests along the Oregon cascades, you have likely benefitted from this group’s efforts. Bigleaf maple trees (Acer macrophyllum) standing sentry next to the last tollgate on the Barlow road section of the Oregon Trail were planted by a tollgate keeper in the 1880s. There are over fifty individual trees or groves like these designated as historically significant by the Oregon Heritage Tree Program.
Learning Oregon’s history from the perspective of these trees is simple, thanks to the Oregon Travel Experience website. It directs you to the location of the Oregon Heritage trees across the state as well as providing the historical background and size statistics of each tree. There are even audio tours available for some of these trees. You can search the tree map based on tree type or just focus on the part of Oregon that you would like to visit and plan your vacation around your Oregon Heritage Tree visitations.