An excellent post about a site I have been wanting to visit. I still want to get down there sometime this spring or summer. Here is some informatio on the site from the Fayette County Natural Heritage Inventory:
Friendship Hill Slopes BDA
The National Park Service owns and manages the Friendship Hill National Historic Site. The land here has been in agriculture since the late 1700’s and has had some areas preserved, such as Sophie’s Woods, named for Albert Gallatin’s first wife Sophia, who is buried there. Sophie’s Woods is a mature Red Oak-mixed hardwood forest (NC001) that has taken on many old growth characteristics. Forests of such maturity are unusual for the county and the region in general. Dominants include red oak (Quercus rubra), white oak (Q. alba), scarlet oak (Q. coccinea), tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), and shagbark hickory (Carya ovata). Major shrubs include mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), and American witchazel (Hamamelis virginiana). Herbs in this forest are sparse mainly composed of Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), round-leaved violet (Viola rotundifolia), false solomon’s seal (Smilacina racemosa) and sessile bellflower (Uvularia sessilifolia). Excepting the conspicuous absence of American chestnut (Castanea dentata), this forest is probably similar to those forests seen by Albert Gallatin when he lived here and George Washington when he surveyed in the area.
Here is a link to the NPS site: http://www.nps.gov/frhi/index.htmhttp://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/gtr/gtr_ne148%20papers/18downs-gtr148.pdf
COMPOSITION AND STRUCTURE OF AN OLD-GROWTH VVERSUS
A SECOND-GROWTH. WHITE OAK FOREST IN S0UTHWESTERN PENNSYLVANIA
Julie A* Downs md Marc D. Abmms'
Abstract: A relatively undisturbed old-growth, Quercus alba remnant and a second-gowth example of the forest type were suveyed in 1988-89 to ixgvestigate the successional status d Q. abba in the region. ...The oldest and largest trees in both stands were Q. alba with ages of 310 years and 148 yearsin the old-growth and second-growth stand, respectively.
The 3 ha old-growth forest, known as Sophia's Woods, is located within the 270 ha Friendship Hill National Historic Site in Fayette County, in southwestern Pennsylvania. Friendship Hill preserves the country estate of Albert Gallitin, the United States Secretary of Treasury under Presidents Jefferson and Madison. Gallitin purchased this bnd in 1786 when it was virgin timber. At that time, Gallitin girdled and removed some of the forest for agricultural purposes. By 1880, after Gallitin had sold the estate, 90 ha were cleared for pasture and food crops, while 180 ha were left in mature timber. By 1895, only 80 ha remained wooded.
A 1923 timber cruise of Friendship Hill reported that mature forests on the property were predominantly oaks "of the various species" with ages up to 260 years, and that some trees were of "unusual size" (e.g., the diameter of one white oak was 152 cm). It was also noted that Carya (hickory) and Quercus coccinea (Muench.) (scarlet oak) were "dying". This report recommended harvesting, but major timber operations were held off until the 1940's and lasted intermittently through- the 1950's. Between the 1930's and 1950's the amount of non-forest area within the property had more than doubled. Physical evidence within Sophia's Woods and growth patterns of the existing trees indicated that this area was selectively cut in ,the 1930's and 1940's.
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky