April 22, 2012

A Happy Earth Day Story!

On our recent field trip to Fort Vancouver in Washington State, I got to witness something quite miraculous.  This beautiful apple tree was in full bloom. For about the 185th time. This is the story of a very beautiful living organism who has survived almost 200 years because of humanity and in spite of humanity.

 Meet The Old Apple Tree of Vancouver.  It was planted just outside of the fort sometime around 1827 in a pretty spot overlooking the Columbia River.  It is thought to be the oldest living apple tree in the Northwest, perhaps the entire West Coast.

According to the newspaper The Columbian, "The apple tree has produced a crop every year, although most trees of its kind only live 50-70 years. ...It has survived many trials, the city's flood of 1894, the emergence of the railroad, the choppers block in 1910, losing a limb in the winter of 1950, the Columbus Day storm in 1962, and freeway construction in more recent years."

The city of Vancouver has grown up around the tree, which is now hemmed in by freeways on one side, train tracks on the other. It is caged in by a chain link fence for its protection.  There is a small strip of green grass and other trees on one side of the tree, however, that as been designated as The Old Apple Tree Park.

Imagine all of the history this tree has seen, and how many humans and other creatures it has nourished, housed, and shaded over almost 200 years!  The life of this amazing tree is celebrated each year in the park with  The Old Apple Tree Festival on the first Saturday of October.

Yes, that is a semi truck barreling along the freeway just feet away from the apple tree...

 The Vancouver Parks and Recreation Department says:
"The Old Apple Tree is a tangible reminder of the power of trees to bridge generations and provide continuity between the past and the future. By planting trees today, we leave a legacy for future generations to enjoy. Trees greatly enhance our quality of life here in Vancouver by beautifying our neighborhoods and parks, cleaning the air and water, and providing numerous other environmental, social and economic benefits."

Bob Cromwell, Archaeologist with the National Parks Service and Fort Vancouver, wrote a detailed history of the Old Apple Tree, which you can view here

Now don't you want to go hug a tree?  [Just not this one, please.]


Annuk said...

What a beautiful story!!!! Trees are amazing living beings and they deserve our greatest respect!

I would love to see Buttonwillow at our blog party! Zoe would be very happy! :)

Repositório said...

What a precious story!!! The humans are so sweet when they want!!!
The tree is very very beautiful.
Thans to share!

Chrissykat said...

I am a tree-hugger so I really appreciate this wonderful story.