Gap: Oldest Living Eastern Hemlock?
18, 2007 17:11 PDT
Last Wednesday, August 14 I revisited Schall's Gap near State
Pennsylvania. There is a small stand of original forest there
that I had
seen several years ago. One of the hemlocks had been recently
that time and found to have 540 growth rings:
Has anyone heard of similar ages for currently living eastern
The reason I ask this is that the site is now infested with
I fear that this tree may be on the decline soon. It still has
foliage at this time (I will be sending pics to Ed soon to be
the web). Since the eastern hemlock is the state tree of PA and
this could be the oldest one known to be living, I'd like to
make a push
with the PA DNR (it is on state forest land) for them to help
tree and the surrounding hemlocks ASAP.
19, 2007 07:48 PDT
There are quite a few hemlock datings that
range between 500 and about 540 years. There are several in New
England, a number in Pennsylvania, a number in the southern
Appalachians, and a number in the Porcupine Mountains in MI.
Above the abive cited age range, I'm unsure. Neil Pederson would
be the best source of information on the oldest hemlocks.
Charlie Cogbill, an infrequent visitor to this email list, also
tracks maximum species ages. If he's lurking around, maybe he'll
At one point a hemlock in PA was cited
as 988 years. There has been controversy over the method used to
ring count. Ricketts Glen in PA has hemlocks over 500 years old
and perhaps over 600. I'm personally confident that the hemlocks
make it to the high fives or low sixes. Beyond that, I don't
Oldest Living Eastern Hemlock?
19, 2007 20:11 PDT
The oldest, well-documented eastern hemlock through
555 yrs It was cored by Ed Cook more than 20 yrs ago. Like Bob
there are many ages in the literature. Ed Cook and his crew have
hundreds of T. canadensis from AL to Nova Scotia and never broke
yrs. I'd bet there is a 600 yr old hemlock out there, but the
to find one more than 600 makes one scratch one's head over
ages of 800, 900+ yrs. See, Ed is good. He often can find the
tree in a stand and has cored a few of the oldest individuals
species in the east.
Anyhow, 540 makes it tied for 2nd oldest documented.
Oldest Living Eastern Hemlock?
20, 2007 10:09 PDT
I am really sorry to hear that the Schall's Gap site is now
with adelgids. I hope that your efforts to get the state to take
to save at least that oldest tree are successful. From what I
understand the Alan Seeger area is also now infested. I would
then that Detweiler Run must be infested, too. I was hoping to
that site a couple months ago while I was in that area, but time
This fall I am planning to go to Schall's Gap and a few of the
Central PA sites that you reported on over the years. I know
State's Rock Springs ag facility is, but I'll eventually have to
some more precise directions to the old growth itself.
Memorial Day weekend I visited the Forest H. Duttlinger site in
Clinton County, PA. Still no sign of the Adelgids there. You
about four or so years ago either that there was no sign of
disease or that there was little of it (I forget which exactly).
now sorry to report that most of the beeches at that site are
dead or dying of that disease. I'll have to get back to my
and make a fuller report on that visit. I spent two days
measuring in and around that ~100 acre site.
If you know when you'll back in Central PA visiting old growth
and would like some company, let me know.
to Anthony Kelly
21, 2007 16:01 PDT
Schall's gap is very easy to get to. In fact, it's a bit too
because some locals like to hang out there and make campfires,
among the old trees. It's only a 5-10 minute hike from the edge
field of the Rock Springs site. In fact, you can see the tops of
hemlocks from PA Route 45. I'd like to lobby the PA DNCR to not
save those hemlocks from the adelgid, but to also declare it a
area (it lies within the Rothrock State Forest). It is every bit
impressive as Alan Seeger and much more accessible. To get
with this map:
Go down to the end of Main Street and park in the field up the
past all the buildings that they use for Ag Progress Days (just
the composting square shown on the map). Then follow the trail
the woods and bear left onto an unmarked trail that follows the
into the water gap. You'll have to climb over some fallen logs,
keep on for a few minutes and you will come to some shaggy
hardwoods and then the big hemlocks. The creek splits into a
south branch with big hemlocks in the ravines of each branch.
year old tree is in a stand on the south side of where the two
come together. It is not impressively large but you will notice
tell tale signs of great age: areas of moss on the trunk and the
rusty reddish-brown shaggy bark. For reference, the two hemlocks
upslope from it have curved trunks.
Oh and if you go in the fall, be aware that the area is open to
Glad to hear you made it up to Dutlinger NA. Now that is one
IS hard to get to. I was there in July, 1999 and the beech trees
doing fine at that point. Sad to hear of their decline. I took a
video of the trees back then. I will have to transfer it to
post it on the web.
I hope to visit Lebo Red Pine NA at some point this fall, maybe
November. It's one of the last old growth natural areas I
been to in central PA.