Erie Big Tree Tour  Dale Luthringer
  Oct 16, 2007

TOPIC: Erie Big Tree Tour 

== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Tues, Oct 16 2007 6:59 pm
From: "Dale Luthringer"


I recently received a copy of 'Big Trees of Erie County', by Ken
Fromennecht, and decided to check out a couple of these hidden
treasures. I know where a few dandies are myself in Erie County, PA,
but Ken had been exploring this area long before I got the big tree bug.
It wasn't long before I had a number of prospects picked out and a
travel itinerary set-up for the day.

Fairview_sassafras1a.JPG (110843 bytes) fairview_sassafras2a.JPG (108061 bytes)

First stop was the state champ sassafras in Fairview along RT20, just
west of the intersection of RT89/RT20. I was not disappointed. We
often hear of drastic height errors in state tree lists, and the old PA
Forestry Association list is certainly no exception, but Ken's height
measurements were refreshingly close. He last measured it in 2004 at
15.8ft CBH x 58ft high x 68ft avg spread for 265 AF Points. My
measurements ~3 years later put it at 15.8ft CBH x 60.7ft high x 43.2ft
avg spread for 261 AF Points. It certainly was the largest sassafras
I've had the pleasure to see. Gorgeous single stem. When viewed from
a distance the trunk had a peculiar triangular shape with a twisted top
and side branches. It's definitely seen some crown damage over the

Next stop was a decent sized sycamore further west on RT20 in Girard at
another private residence. This tree came in at a respectable 15.6ft
CBH x 102.5ft high.

Springfield_Cemetery_RP1a.JPG (64343 bytes) Springfield_CemeteryRP3a.JPG (77370 bytes)

Next stop was to find the state champ red pine in East Springfield in
the Springfield Cemetery just north of the RT5/RT215 junction. The
co-champ red pine was also here and listed in the pamphlet, and reported
to be over 12ft CBH, but there was no red pine of those dimensions in
the cemetery. I did find two recent pine stumps though. The first
stump was most likely a white or red pine. The stump height was just
above flush and had a 15.3ft circumference with ~135 rings. This one
was probably cut within the last few months. The bad news is that I
believe the second stump was the old co-champ red pine. Stump height
here was also just above flush with a 12.8ft circumference and ~142
rings. In 2004 it was reported to be 12.1ft CBH x 52ft high x 53ft avg
spread for 210 AF Points.

The good news, is that the state champ red pine is doing well. I should
also say that both the old champ and co-champ were originally measured
by Tom Erdman, Erie County's PA Bureau of Forestry service forester.
I'm happy to say he also did a great job with the height measurement.
In 2004 the co-champ was listed as 10.8ft CBH x 86ft high x 51ft avg
spread for 229 AF Points. Yesterday's measurements put it at 11ft CBH x
84.4ft high x 39.8ft avg spread for 226 AF Points. Both Tom and Ken
have been cataloguing Erie's remarkable trees for quite some time. I'm
a relative newcomer compared to these guys. They deserve a lot of
credit for recognizes some of PA's finest trees and giving Philly' a run
for its money.

ElephantTreeSM8b.JPG (114410 bytes)

The last tree of the day was to locate and measure the state champ sugar
maple, affectionately named, 'The Elephant Tree'. It is located along a
ridge in North Springfield at Camp Judson, a private campground along
the shores of Lake Erie. 

Scan0001a.jpg (71372 bytes) 
Scan from the owners brochure of Camp Judson.


Regrettably, this tree is no longer standing
due to root failure back in February of this year. This monster sugar
maple was also nominated by Tom Erdman in 2004 at 17.2ft CBH x 96ft high
x 69ft avg spread for 319 AF Points. It is no doubt the largest sugar
maple I've had the pleasure of measuring, or seeing for that matter. It
was truly a massive tree. All single stem, no cheater double or triple
stems for this baby.

ElephantTreeSM2a.JPG (170624 bytes) ElephantTreeSM5a.JPG (98474 bytes)

The past, now dead, state champion sugar maple, affectionately named 'The Elephant Tree' had ~243 rings to a 0.5" punky center at 9.6ft up from its base.  At 9.6ft up, it was 5.3ft across.  It went to 823ft^3 of actual taped volume in a 44.5ft log!

I quickly went to work taking pics and volume measurements of the log.
If my math is correct, I come up with at least 823ft^3 of wood in this
tree! That's just short of 10,000 board feet of wood if it could all be
used as marketable timber in a 44.5ft log! I used the volume of a
cylinder for the bottom section, but used frustum of cone volumes for
the other sections. I haven't compared what the results would be if I
computed all sections with the cylinder volume formula. The tree had
two odd "trunk or tusk-like" limbs and multiple burls which accounts for
the irregular trunk measurements below. 

ElephantTreeSM1a.JPG (112491 bytes) ElephantTreeSM8a.JPG (96521 bytes)

Here's the stats:

"Height" of tree Section length circumference
radius(ft) volume (ft^3) total volume = 823ft^3

Elephant Tree (past state champion sugar maple)

Dale Luthringer

Circumference (ft)

Radius (ft)


Sec Vol

Cumulative Vol

Base Vol = Pi*r^2*L

















































macroscope 25






Tom's measurement in 2004 at 4.5ft CBH was 17.2ft. My CBH measurement
could be close to a foot higher up on the trunk than his since I'm sure
he had a better ground reference than I did from when it was standing.
Also, the owner collected four ~3inch thick x ~5ft wide cross sections
at about 9.6' up from the base. I didn't compute these into my tally
either. So, my volume measurements are most likely going to be on the
low side.

ElepantTreeSM3a.JPG (105873 bytes)

At 9.6ft from the base I counted ~243 rings to a punky center about 3/4"
in diameter. This easily puts this tree as starting to grow before the
French & Indian War. Initial rings were very tight up to ~75 rings.
The surrounding forest was most likely first logged near this time
frame. Then they were considerably thicker for the next ~140 years,
then became tight again for the last ~25 yeas of its life. There were
two other large standing sugar maple columns within site, one dead, one
alive with no top. The living one went to 13.9ft CBH x ~40ft high. The
snag went to 13.8ft CBH. These could very well be the progeny of the
Elephant Tree that may make it into the 175-200 year age class.

I love the pics on this tree. The downed log is actually up to my chin
at 5.3'ft diameter as I stand beside it. Even in death, this tree is
still impressive. It absolutely dominated the canopy above it.


P.S. Ed will get some pics of these soon for posting.

TOPIC: Erie Big Tree Tour

== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Tues, Oct 16 2007 8:40 pm
From: James Parton


This sassafras has about the same cbh as the Tanglewood Sassafras in
Maggie Valley NC but is a little taller and has a little greater
spread. That is one awesome sassafras!

James Parton.