Todd County, Kentucky   Jess Riddle
  Nov 08, 2005 19:19 PST 

At the end of October, I went to Elkton, Kentucky to visit relatives.
Elkton, a town of about 1800 residents in the south-central part of
the state, is the county seat of Todd County. Large farms dominate
the surrounding countryside, and combine with the gently rolling
topography to allow one to see for miles without being on any
noticeable promontory. Most of the farms cultivate corn, soybeans, or
in times past, tobacco. A few southern red oaks and post oaks
surround some farm structures, but most forest is confined to narrow
strips between fields and along ditches or to larger ridges that may
rise a few hundred feet above the surrounding landscape. Black oaks,
post oaks, and shagbark hickory frequently occur on the dry ridge
soils, but sugarberry, honey locust, sycamore, cottonwood, silver
maple, and sugar maple inhabit the moister linear strips of field-edge

The 351' high obelisk of the Jefferson Davis Memorial looms over the
western edge of the county. 

Despite the gentleness of the surrounding
grounds, limestone still outcrops among the several spreading oaks and

Species Cbh Height Location
Gingko 8'0.5" 78.3' Elkton, school grounds
Maple, Silver 13'1.5 104.2' Elkton, Elk Fork Red River
Oak, Chinquapin 13'5" 74.4' Jefferson Davis Memorial
Oak, Post 10'10" 72.7' Jefferson Davis Memorial
Oak, Shingle 10'3" 80.3' Jefferson Davis Memorial
Osage Orange 12'1" NA Elkton, private residence
Osage Orange 16'0" NA Elkton, private residence
Osage Orange 14'7" 75.2' Elkton, private residence
Sassafras 8'5" NA Jefferson Davis Memorial

The osage oranges surrounded one of the older houses located in the
central part of town. The 14'7" tree's leaning, gradually tapering
trunk encased in deeply furrowed orange reminded me more of an incense
cedar than any broadleaf species. The compact crown atop that trunk
consisted of many multiply arching branches, a structure seen in shade
grown roses, forsythias, and other thinly branched bushes, and to a
lesser degree in tuliptrees.

One small patch of forest elevated above the Elk Fork Red River, only
a moderately sized creek, hinted at the trees the farm fields could
grow. The site once boasted a national co-champion shagbark hickory,
and now supports a relatively mature hardwood forest, although most
trees are still under 100 years old. From one point on the edge of
the stand, three-foot dbh tuliptrees, a three-foot dbh shumard oak,
and a 2.5' dbh black cherry were visible, and the former two species
exceeded 110'.

Jess Riddle