Lead Mine White Oak

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tsharp
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Lead Mine White Oak

Post by tsharp » Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:16 pm

NTS:
In 2016 The Journal of Forestry published an article concerning some photos found in Roy Clarksons book (Tumult on the Mountain). In this mostly historical picture book an obvious west coast species was identified as being a large White Oak located near Lead Mine, Tucker County, West Virginia.. Ents have long been aware of the incorrect identification as to species and location and the and the authors recognized this fact in their article.
A link to the article bye M. Thomas- VanGundy and R. Whetzell follows:

https://www.fs.fed.us/nrs/pubs/jrnl/201 ... dy_002.pdf

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dbhguru
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Re: Lead Mine White Oak

Post by dbhguru » Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:03 am

Turner,

Thanks for forwarding the account. I recall when I first saw the photo and its incorrect identification. I shook my head, and mumbled to myself, are they serious? The passing off of West Coast conifer images for eastern white pines in Wisconsin and Michigan,the West VA image and others reinforce how often people, amateurs and professionals alike misjudge tree dimensions, or have totally unrealistic expectations of species dimensions in the past. I've worked hard to understand how most of us perceive tree dimensions visually. The reason is that I don't want people to walk in a superlative forest and not recognize it as such. It is from the recognition of a place's specialness that the feeling of need to protect it emerges.

When visitors come into the MTSF HQ, they see a number of white pines near the buildings. One somewhat bushy pine standing alone across from a parking area is 106 feet tall. People guess its height at anywhere from 70 feet to 150 feet. I explain that it is 106 and that there are other pines they will soon see that top that one by 40 to 60 feet. However, when they come into the vicinity of those pines, unless I tell them, they are wholly unaware of the added height. This happens for just about everyone except those of us who measure the pines. I have come to some conclusions about how our brains process the spatial relationships, and will share them, but wonder who has thought about this topic? There is a field called spatial awareness, but it deals mostly with children and their awareness of themselves in relationship to objects around them, e.g reaching for a toy.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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gnmcmartin
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Re: Lead Mine White Oak

Post by gnmcmartin » Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:42 am

NTS members:

Well, I will chime in here again on this topic. Some new members may not have followed the discussion we had previously. Yes, the pictures that one sees "everywhere" of western conifer forests in various museums in WV, and publications, represented as pictures of WV forests of years long ago, are absolutely ridiculous. I have seen some showing landscape views of Sierra Nevada forests, with the caption that these were the forests that formerly grew near Kingwood, WV.

All of this in an unfortunate distraction from the story of the Leadmine white oak, and, frankly, at this point, I am disgusted. The fact that so many of these misidentified pictures are "out there" reflects not one whit about the truth, or supposed falsehood, of the stories of the Leadmine oak. Please!

I find the stories entirely credible, in spite of the fact that the reported size of this tree seems incredible. The reports of the dimensions of this oak are detaled, and were taken when the tree was on the ground. The accuracy could well have been off by some, but I don't think that much. It would have been natural, and tempting, for these measurements to have been exaggerated a bit, perhaps mostly by using measuring methods that produced the maximum readings. A part of the story is that the trunk was so large that it could not be moved, so it was split into quarters.

Now comes the part that is so, so, so very frustrating to me. I once saw a picture, very possibly of these "quarters," on railroad cars in a railroad yard. I have searched for this photo since, but not thoroughly, given the time it would take to visit all the places that I could have seen it. I must have seen it in a local history museum somewhere in the general area, having looked everywhere else I can think of. If I could find the photo, as I have said before, both the location, and the kind of railroad cars and engine could be identified. All I can say now is that the picture was a "long shot," showing both the cars, the railroad engine, and the surrounding topography, with the forests on the surrounding hills. These forests surely did not look like anything "western," but looked like they could well have been in WV or nearby MD--all hardwoods like we see in this area, but I could not identify any by species from the distance in the photo.

The logs were clearly not redwood or giant Sequoia, with there being no darker heartwood with lighter sapwood, or heavily ridged bark, etc. Of course they could have been of any one of a number of other species, including some western conifers. I could not see any bark, which may have been removed. But there was nothing inconsistent with their being white oak.

Was/is (?) this a picture of the quarters of the Leadmine oak trunk, as reported. It WAS reported to have been quartered, and subsequently loaded onto railroad cars.

Of course, I have no proof of anything--I wasn't there--and I can't now locate the photo (extreme frustration), but I am additionally frustrated by all the complete dismissals of a story that I believe much more likely to be true than not. And to have these dismissals based on the presence of all these other misidentified photos makes no logical sense to me--sorry.

So, again, I will "hold my peace" on this, pending any discovery I might make of the photo that I remember clearly.

--Gaines

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gnmcmartin
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Re: Lead Mine White Oak

Post by gnmcmartin » Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:55 am

NTS:

Maybe I should clarify my view of what the Leadmine white oak may have been. Many of us have seen large white oaks, and know how they grow, and under what conditions. And, the two measurements reported give us some clues as to how this tree grew. In no way do I imagine a tree with a trunk rising up like a redwood to 31 feet and still being ten feet in diameter, tapering gradually as such trunks do. Simply not possible. But here is what I can suppose:

The two measurements reported are a bit "strange." The first says 13 feet in diameter 16 feet above the base. The second says 10 feet in diameter 31 feet up. What is strange is that there is no diameter reported at the base, or near the base. This tells me that the measurement taken at 16 feet was greater than any diameter that could be measured lower down, as is more usual. If the tree were 16 feet, or something like that near the base, that would have been highlighted. So, the suggestion is that the tree had a trunk that for some reason swelled, or gave an opportunity for a greater measurement, higher up. This would not be unusual for a white oak if we consider how it may have grown.

First, this tree couldn't have grown to anything like that size in a forest stand, but must have spent a good part of its life, and especially early on, growing more or less in the open. These trees often grow verry large limbs, and my speculation is that in this case, these limbs grew at about 16 feet above the ground. If they were still living, the "swelling" that they can add to the trunk would have created an opportunity for this measurement. If not, we white oak lovers know how these trees grow wood, often "sleeves," over the dead branch stubs. In either case, a measurement could have been made at a place, and in a direction, that could have given a result somewhat larger than any DBH, or whatever, measurement lower down.

Now, as for the 31 foot high 10 foot diameter. Again, the issue is, why at that point? I believe because it would give the greatest diameter. So, how could this tree "still" be 10 feet thck at 31 feet? Here is the possibility that strikes me--again, no white oak grows to any truly massive size without a large crown. I imagine that this tree divided at this point into two or more very large ascending branches, each of which divided additionally to create a massive spreading crown, as is so typical with white oaks with ample space for this development. And, when this happens, the branches create a buttress-like form where they connect with the trunk much like the vaults in a gothic cathedral do as they arch out and away from the main piers. So, the ten foot measurement at 31 feet was possible, especially, again, if the measurement were made across the widest part of the trunk at that point, which would have included the buttress like arching out of the trunk below the point where the limb actually separates from the trunk.

I have always envisioned the tree in this way. Of course, this is all speculation, but I don't think "rank" speculation that is "uninformed." This tree was big, or massive, and the guy measuring it wanted to get the most impressive measurements he could, and the form of the trunk could have given him some wonderful opportunities, and I think he gleefully took them. These measurements were not NTS informed.

In any case, I simply cannot dismiss the reports of this tree "out of hand." Many, many very large trees were cut in WV, including some really big tuliptrees, but this was reported, and generally accepted at the time, as the largest. I think it must have been an incredible "whopper" of a tree, even if the measurements reported could be misleading, especially to people who are not thinking about just how white oaks can grow under the certain conditions. I would like to have seen this tree.

Oh, one more detail that would be consistent with my speculations here. IF, and I say, "if" the picture I saw of the quarter sections of a large trunk on railroad cars was in WV, as I think very possible, it is noteworthy that the part of this trunk that was split into quarters, was very nicely formed, not showing any bulges, etc. But, large as this trunk was, it didn't look to me like 13 feet in diameter, if I could put it back together in my mind. But it was huge. Now here is the point--there was just one fairly short section of this tree that was quartered and sitting on the railroad cars. I would guess it was 8 or 9 feet long, but not much, if any longer. So, where was the rest of this large 31 foot long trunk? I think left in the woods, or cut up for firewood or other uses. It was not fit to send to the mill because of the knots and other "defects," and "irregularities" that would have made milling it not worth the trouble. This would support my speculation about the shape or "form"" of the trunk.

Well, I am not writing this to make an argument, as such, that the reports of this tree must be true, or that my speculations about it reveal the ultimate "truth." Conclusive evidence is simply not available. Yes, it is clear to me that this tree could not have had a massive trunk with any kind of regular form, rising up to 31 feet high where an accurate diameter measurement of 10 feet could have been made. No, nothing I know about eastern white oaks, wonderful as they are, and large as they can grow, suggests that could be remotely possible. But this tree, if it grew as I think it very well could have, and was measured in the way I imagine it could have been, is certainly possible.

--Gaines

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Rand
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Re: Lead Mine White Oak

Post by Rand » Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:59 pm

Gaines,

I'm guessing you are envisioning something like this:
white oak.png
Although this one is a comparative piker @ 11' 7" cbh x 93.6' tall.

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gnmcmartin
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Re: Lead Mine White Oak

Post by gnmcmartin » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:00 am

Rand:

This is not a "pretty tree" at this point, but this illustrates the general idea of how many very large white oaks "started," more or less in the open. All of the dead branch stubs are a feature of such trees. As the tree first started growing, branches low down grew relatively large. Then as the forest grew up around the tree, and the tree itself grew taller, and its crown spread, they were shaded and died. Now what is remarkable about white oak, and some other oaks of the "white oak group" to some extent, is that these dead branches don't usually afford any opportunity for fungal rot diseases to enter the trunk. First, the wood is fairly rot resistant, and second, the callus growth of eastern white oak especially, is very rapid, so it can grow out over the base of these stubs, helping to prevent rot from entering the tree. Eventually, this closes over the end of the stub. This is one of the features of white oaks that enables long life.

When I was a kid, and I mean when I was only 8 or 9 years old, I would range very, very widely over all the woodlands within 4 or 5 miles of my home. I went everywhere, and in places where few people, if any, ever went. I discovered every large tree anywhere around. Maybe the one I loved the most was a large white oak, that when I first saw it, made me think I had been taken back to some kind of prehistoric time--you know how kids can let their imagination go.

Well, according to the standards that NTS has for especially "reportable" large trees, this was not really that big, but it was still big. It was by far the largest tree in that specific area, and when I first saw it, I was a bit stunned. OK, it was "only" just over 4 feet in diameter--I always carried a tape with me. It had a perfectly balanced form, and a very large, spreading crown, and just below the crown there were, or had been, some decently large limbs that had died. Some were now covered over stubs, some were broken off about two feet out from the trunk, with "sleeves" of callus growth going out a foot or so, etc. These gave the tree a special kind of "gnarled," or something, appearance. As long as I lived in that area, I visited this tree regularly, and I can still picture it perfectly in my mind. It was overall perfectly formed and balanced. If given 4 or 500 more years, this tree might grow into a true monster. It was growing in a rich, deep alluvial soil not far from a stream. It had already developed a fully dominant position in the woodland, and unless broken in some terrific storm, or struck by lightning, no competition could ever threaten its continuing vigorous growth. I bet its still there, and wish I could get back up to NJ to have another look. It was growing on what I think was a wild part of the Echo Lake Park, across Springfield Avenue, which most people never thought of as a part of the park.

Well, I could go on to describe some other favorite white oak trees I have had. In my mind, these are truly amazing trees. I reported some time ago--before we went to the present BBS--about the Carter Hall oak over in Clarke County. This was the widest spreading oak I have ever seen, with the exception of the Angel Oak near Charleston, SC. If I remember my measurements, it was almost 7' in diameter, but only about 75 feet tall. I forget now the spread measurement I took.

But, in a forest environment, white oaks grow incredibly tall and straight, very often with essentially perfect form. There are a couple of very nice ones like that at the VA Arboretum near here. The oldest and largest of this "kind" of white oak I have seen are in Belt Woods, east of Washington DC.

What is it about the Eastern white oak that makes its form so varied and "adaptable." I know of no other kind of tree like this.

But no where that I know of, are there any really old, "fully developed" forest grown white oaks. Those in Belt woods are about 200 years old, give or take. Eastern white oaks are reported to be especially long-lived. What would one 400 or 500, or even older look like?

Well, I am a "white oak" nut, so I could go on and on, describing my favorite trees, and all the wonderful attributes of this species.

Just a bit off the point--how many of you have seen the Joyce Kilmer tuliptrees in NC? These are probably the only really old forest grown tuliptrees in existence. They are growing on what seems to me to be poor soil, but they are up to 8 feet--or a tad more, in diameter, with their trunks rising up in columnar fashion. These trees are not especially tall--a function of the poor soil. But in their 400 years, they still attained this eyepopping size. I mention this just to emphasize that really practically nothing remains of truly old growth hardwood trees in the eastern half of the US. Really almost none of us can imagine what kind of growth and size white oaks, tulip trees, sycamores, etc. can attain. None of us has ever seen, or will ever see, a truly "mature" white oak that has grown to anything like its full glory. All cut long ago. Shame!

---Gaines

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gnmcmartin
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Re: Lead Mine White Oak

Post by gnmcmartin » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:24 am

I mentioned my report on the Catrter Hall white oak in my previous post. Here is the link:

http://www.ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f ... +oak#p2836

--Gaines

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Ranger Dan
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Re: Lead Mine White Oak

Post by Ranger Dan » Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:04 am

Gaines et al-

After reading your account of childhood wanderings in your neighborhood to find big trees, I felt compelled to contribute. The feeling you describe on discovering a titanic being that lived in a time long gone, witness to the passing of ages, is like the experiences that my brother and I had on similar wanderings in the woods of my neighborhood in central Virginia. And white oaks were our favorite, too. Still are. My brother was a linguist, even as a teenager, and named these trees from his knowledge of Norse and other languages spoken by ancient peoples to whom such trees were sacred. At least one of these trees that we knew and revered is still alive and healthy...Torthmight, named for its height over its companion, Eldnessproud. Torthmight is the sole survivor of a grove of ancient white oaks that extended for acres around Ivy Cliff, the house that was my family home. It's just under 5 ft. dbh, but there were others much larger in my father's time, which were cut down during the Depression or earlier. He told of a visit by an old lady who had grown up there in the late 1800's, who bereaved, "Oh, what has happened to my beautiful grove?!" That grove of "HYOOGE white oaks", as my father would say, certainly were large trees when the first European settlement occurred here in the 1700's. There were many in the area still standing in the early 20th century, a time when local naturalist Ruskin Freer published in his column "The Rambler" a poem about "the oaks that graced the land", which he also knew in his youth during that time. My father, who was born in 1923, explained that the reason for the random wandering curves of our road was to dodge the many massive oak trees. The most magnificent white oak I know of in my area is one we call "the Grandmother Tree", because of its healed-over limb stumps which you mention. They resemble enormous, pendulous boobs, hence the name. It's by route 43 just west of Bedford, VA. I should measure it and offer a report. It surely is over 6' dbh, and a really fascinating, awesome tree. Yet as far as I know it is totally unappreciated and unnoticed, except by myself and my co-worker, Maggy, who named it.

But on to the forest-grown, mature white oaks of which you mention...I also have seen few. And I have wandered near and far for fifty years or more in search of old growth forest stands and individual ancient trees. Many of my trips have been to sites described in Mary Byrd Davis's books on "Old Growth in the East". The best stand I ever found of forest-grown oaks is Dysart Woods in Ohio. The trees are not huge, but many are 3-4' dbh, and the assemblage is magnificent. I believe that it has never been logged. I also recall my first visit to Montpelier woods, by the home of James Madison. At that time, in 1987, under ownership by the Trust for Historic Preservation, the forested lands there were under assessment for logging (and much old growth forest was logged thereafter). There was one magnificent forest-grown white oak in the woods near the historic house, around 5' dbh, with a remarkably tall, straight, knot-free bole. It was marked with paint to be cut. After reporting my disapproval to the contractor on finding this extraordinary tree, on a following visit I found that the tree, inside an area around 200 acres, had been spared of logging by the Nature Conservancy. This white oak is one of the finest specimens I've ever seen of this type.

Like you, I wonder if white oaks of this quality were once common in the forests that the first Europeans encountered before converting nearly all of the fertile land to agriculture. Much of the soil at Montpelier is remarkably fertile, and has produced fast growth of tuliptrees that are by now one of the most impressive stands anywhere, somewhere around 200 years old. Another remarkable forest-grown white oak, long recognized and published in an old trail guide as an outstanding specimen, is in the Cataloochee district of the Smokies. It stands (I hope still, having seen it last around 2009), in never-logged forest, deep in a remote mountain cove, by a trail. Around 5' dbh, it has a trunk as tall and straight and knot-free as the best tuliptrees. Out of respect for those on the list who feel that exact locations of trees like these should not be reported on the web, I withhold details until I am contacted in personal email.

You mention the mighty tuliptrees of Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. The Poplar Cove grove has long been recognized as the most magnificent forest of tuliptrees anywhere (or of any Eastern American forest). That was my first destination, 300 miles from home, that I would drive to as soon as I had turned 18. I've been there several times since, and countless other places in the Southern Appalachians and elsewhere, in search of more like them. You should be happy to know that JK is not the only place where one can still see forest with tuliptrees like these. Several of these places have been reported about on this list, and at least one of them by myself several years ago. There are many places in the Smokies and a few other localities where huge, ancient tuliptrees still stand in remnants of forest never logged, and others standing as individual remnant trees. Many of them are over 5' dbh, some larger, with gnarled, enormous limbs in high crowns above titanic columns with wide ridges of bark, often with huge hollows, some you can go inside. These are ancient trees. The tree once recognized as the Smokies' largest, also stands (still, I hope) by a trail in the Cataloochee district. It is around 9' dbh.

My hat's off to Will Blozan and others, who have reported many such findings on cross-country explorations and tree climbing expeditions. I"m saddened that we no longer get such reports and photos of these ancient tuliptrees. I met Will only once, in the most extraordinary random chance event of my life, as I was on my way off-trail to one of the Park's largest tuliptrees. Someone had published on a blog directions to this tree, which I printed out and followed. He was disturbed to see that they had been taken from his description, and published without his permission. As a former Wilderness Ranger, I, too, believe in the ethic of preventing sites of special natural significance from being "loved to death". But I will consider sharing location information on some of these trees to trustworthy persons in private messages.

Dan

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gnmcmartin
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Re: Lead Mine White Oak

Post by gnmcmartin » Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:34 pm

Dan:

Thanks for your wonderful post. One of the concerns that people have about not letting anyone know about the location of very, very large old trees, is privacy. I have heard, second hand, about an extremely large white oak not too many miles from where the Leadmine oak was. The man who told me about it was a close friend, but is now deceased--a farm accident. He was the most loved and widely respected man I have ever known, and was absolutely reliable. This oak is believed to be somewhat larger than the now defunct Wye oak in MD. I know whose property this tree is on, but I am not sure if he is still living. I had thought about asking to see this tree, and perhaps could have gotten permission, but was afraid that if anyone did discover this tree and reveal its location, I could be a suspect, so I let it go. The owner of the land is/was a "private" person, but anyone could understand his concern. IF this treee became known, there would have been the great number of people who would want to see it, so keeping people out of his timberland would have been impossible without taking some difficult and awkward measures. So I let it go.

I could check and see if the land owner is still alive, and if not, see who the current owner is, and perhaps ask for permission to see the tree, under "penalty of death" if I revealed anything. But then, if I couldn't share, what would the point be? I would "die" wanting to talk about it.

Anyway, I will share a brief description of another of my favorite white oak trees. This one is in the middle of a very public and accessible place, Lacey Woods park in Arlington, VA, not far from the big hospital on 16th street. This tree is not especially large--I think not quite 4' DBH. But its form is stunning. To be brief, it divides--I am trying to remember, maybe just 5 or 6 feet from the ground into two trunks. The larger of these subsequently divides something like 30 feet higher up. There is a subsequnet important division or two above that. Then all these trunks just simply "soar" upward, very gradually growing outward in the most soaring and grandest arch anyone has ever seen. I could sit under this tree for hours and never see enough. Total height "just" 120' or a bit more, but its form makes the tree look like it actually soars right up to heaven. I have never seen an more beautiful tree anywhere.

Could this tree actually be the same species as the Carter Hall oak? What incredible diversity of form!

OK, for anyone in the area, here is just where it is. Start at the kiddie playground at the north end of the park, and take the path--the main gravel path--south into the heart of the woodland. Then just before you come to the picnic pavilion, take the dirt path to the right and go about 75 yards or so, and it is right there just to the left of the path. The path actually goes over one of the root flares.

--Gaines

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Ranger Dan
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Re: Lead Mine White Oak

Post by Ranger Dan » Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:15 pm

Wow! There's a white oak as large or larger than the famous Wye Oak??!! Pardon my ignorance, but wasn't it the largest white oak ever recorded? What a shame that the dimensions and images of this mystery tree have never been reported or shared! Would it be possible for you to somehow ensure that the location would never be revealed, so that at least the scientific community could have record of the extent of dimensions that this species can achieve? Surely extensive measurements, photo and video documentation could be made and disseminated without any risk of the location being revealed. Surely, the landowner is not aware of the significance of this tree, or of the possibilities mentioned. If the tree is still owned by someone you know, there is hope that the owner can be assured of the need for privacy which is understandable.

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