18 Sep '12, 6pm

The Witness Trees

The Witness Trees

Forest Service Mapping land parcels purchased from 1752 to 1899, surveyors in West Virginia took note of what kinds of trees stood at the corners. Reaching into the past, Melissa Thomas-Van Gundy paints a vivid picture of a highlands forest dense with white oak, flaming sugar maple and American beeches, with a scattering of yellow poplar, wild cherry and spruce pine and, here and there, a singular crab apple, elm or soaring sycamore tree. That’s how the Monongahela National Forest in central West Virginia may have appeared before it was slowly distributed among settlers from 1752 to 1899, Ms. Thomas-Van Gundy suggests in research recently published by the Forest Service. As the land was divvied up, surveyors documented the trees that rested at the imaginary corners and angles of the parcels to mark their boundaries. They were called “witness trees” – an expression also use...

Full article: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/the-witness-trees/


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