Cook Forest & Cooksburg business finds Dale Luthringer
March 4, 2009


On 10/24/08 I had the opportunity to measure some trees in a variety of
areas in the park.  There were a number of places I wanted to search or
revisit, so this post is a compilation of those places.

I first wanted to try to relocate and measure a fat black gum I found years
ago in the Swamp Natural Area.  Since I rarely go in this section of the
park, I was thwarted on numerous previous attempts to relocate it due to
unfamiliarity of the area and very flat terrain.  There is a section in the
Swamp Area in the emergent wetland section, near private land, that if you
stay towards the upper end of the inlet, you can cross without getting your
shins wet via hopping from hummock to hummock where the swamp pinches near
its narrowest point.  I know this section of the swamp well, but once I get
on the northern side, this is where my "circling" habit begins.

When I get onto dry land at this point, I always have a tendency to skirt
the northern or left side of the wetland.  I tried that today and easily
re-located another black gum I wanted to get a height for, but the fat one
continued to elude me.  I continued skirting the northern rim, and had no
luck.  I started into my natural counter clockwise "circling" pattern, and
proceeded to turn myself around.  After correcting my bearing, I finally
resorted to whipping out the compass to keep me on a general northerly
heading towards the Baker Trail.

Since I knew I wasn't going to find the fat black gum in this direction,
I gave up the search until later when I would be heading back out towards
the end of the trip.  As I progressed in a northerly direction, the forest
changed from distinct old growth hemlock forest to a mature hardwood stand
dominated mostly by northern red, scattered sugar maple, and white ash.
Found a decent red at 7.9ft CBH x 124.7ft high, which was a surprise for me
finding one in this height class in this section of the park.  After working
in the park for 13 years and exploring numerous miles in the forest in that
time, it was nice to finally search some new ground.  No new records here,
but the weather was great.  The only limitation was that I wasn't getting
much sleep during this time since my younest and largest
"son" (kidney stone) soon to be, 'Spike', was currently sitting near "Mr.
Prostate".  Had a couple of old pain pills on hand if need be... better than
sitting around in misery for days on end waiting for him to come out!

Anyway... explored the flat then circled back around south in the flat
behind the Brass Lantern B&B woods, and again skirted the edge of the
emergent old growth forested wetland in the Swamp Area.  Low & behold, I
finally found that fat black gum I was looking for.  When I first came in
across the hummocks and pinch point I went left, and didn't find it.  If I
had went right, I would've eventually have run right into it.  This
particular black gum I named the "Chunk Meister" at 7.2ft CBH x 66.1+ft
high.  It has extremely thick/deep furrows and plates.  The top is thinning
bad, and the tree is generally on its way out.  The chunks were so thick, it
even had an ancient chestnut oak appearance.  I'd love to get a core of this
tree, but I don't think it'll be possible due to extensive rot.  With other
species in the park surpassing 350 years, I believe this black gum could
also go into that category.  It's definitely the fattest so far located in
the park, and I highly doubt we'll find another to beat it.  It's not large
in terms of the max dimensions it can achieve in the east, but for this side
of the state, I rarely find a forest grown black gum over 6.5ft CBH.  This
section in the vacinity of the Chunk Meister and flat behind the Brass
Lantern contains an incredible ancient hemlock stand.  I rarely get into
this section of old growth.  It had a very "Forest Cathedral" feel to it.
Many ancient hemlocks, but not large as in other areas of the park.  I then
finished a northerly route out of the Swamp Area continuing to skirt the
eastern edge of the swamp until I hit Greenwood Rd.

I next proceeded to the Foundation Ridge Flat area of the park to re-measure
the tallest pignut hickory in the park and the tallest known scarlet oak in
the northeast.  The pignut hickory got a little fatter, but noted no height
change at 5.2ft CBH x 126.7ft high.  The scarlet oak got a little fatter and
a little higher and now stands at 8.3ft CBH x 121.5ft high.

Next, I wanted to re-measure some trees at MacBeth's Cabins.  There was a
tallish Colorado blue spruce and cedar I wanted to measure there.  I
also wanted to take a good look at some of their white pine and spruce
growing along the downhill slope to the Clarion River west and adjacent to

Remeasured the fat double Sawra Cedar   Chamaecyparis
pisifera (5.8ft CBH x 85.4ft high, 6.6ft CBH x  73.3ft high)
in his parking lot and the tall blue spruce located behind the
store (5.2ft CBH x 110.1ft high).  Then proceeded to work my way on the
contour along the slope south.  In the vacinity of Cabin 15 there are a
couple of planted catalpas, exact species unknown, but one in particular is
the tallest documented catlapa in PA, maybe the NE, at 4.1ft CBH x 108.5ft
high.  Now THAT one was a surprise.  A number of pines and spruce in the
area were measured.  The day's stats follows:

*Cook Forest trees*
*Species               CBH   Height   Location               Comments*

black gum            4.9     81.1+    Swamp N.A.
black gum            *7.2*     66.1+    Swamp N.A.             Chunk Meister
41 23.548N x 79 12.473W

N. red oak            9.9     117.7    Swamp N.A.
N. red oak            N/A    118.6    Swamp N.A.
N. red oak            7.9     124.7    Swamp N.A.

pignut hickory      5.2      126.7    Foundation Ridge Flat

scarlet oak           8.3     *121.5*    Foundation Ridge Flat  tallest
documented NE

sugar maple         8.9    105.1+    Swamp N.A

white ash             5.3    113.7      Swamp N.A.

*MacBeth's Cabins trees*
*Species               CBH   Height      Location                Comments*

butternut             4.1       66.1+        Cabin 15

catalpa                3.5       99.9+       Cabin 15
catalpa                4.1      108.5        Cabin 15
tallest documented NE

chestnut X            N/A     48.8         playground

CO blue spruce     N/A     98.5
CO blue spruce     5.2     110.1        store front

 Sawra cedar (2x)   5.8      85.4         store front

                           6.6      73.3

E. white pine        N/A     105.5        Cabin 1
E. white pine        N/A     111.9        Cabin 7
E. white pine        N/A     111.9        Cabin 8
E. white pine        N/A     112.1        Cabin 2
E. white pine        N/A     114.8        Cabin 3
E. white pine        N/A     118.2        Cabin 6
E. white pine        N/A     120.9        Cabin 7
E. white pine        N/A     121.7        Cabin 11
E. white pine        N/A     123.7        Cabin 4
E. white pine        N/A     128.7        Cabin 13
E. white pine        N/A     129.1        Cabin 28
Norway spruce     N/A       97.9         playground
Noway spruce      N/A      107.4
Norway spruce     N/A      108.8        laundromat
Norway spruce     N/A      117           Cabin 17

It was a good day... 'Spike' decided to stay in a "happy place".


[Dale Luthringer, March 9, 2009]

Earlier I noted a double "E. red cedar" at MacBeth's Cabins in Cook Forest
to 5.8ft CBH x 85.4ft high & 6.6ft CBH x 73.3ft high.  After a more thorough
examination, I mistook the tree for a Sawara cedar,  *Chamaecyparis
pisifera.  *

So, the tallest, and biggest, we have on record for E. red cedar in PA is
Scott Wade's state champ in Glen Mills at 9.1ft CBH x 79.1ft high:

Continued at: