26, 2003 04:24 PDT
Your reference to the Wetherfield elm set me to looking through
my library for
anything more on its size or structure.
Although Peattie (1950) gives, on p. 240, the height as 102
feet, spread "about
150 feet," and a girth of 41 feet at breast height, that
girth appears to be in
Frank H. Lamb, Book of the Broadleaf Trees (1939), p.236, states
the tree was
97' feet tall, spread of 165 feet, and 29 1/2 feet in
circumference at the
ground. A fine photograph on p. 192 shows a large flaring base,
so the above
circumference appears to have been taken higher.
Dr. Ferdinand C. Lane, in The Story of Trees (1952) p.66, quotes
of 29 feet.
The Internet has the text from a 1967 Illinois nature bulletin,
which states the
height was 97 feet, spread 147 feet, and the girth at 4 1/2 feet
was 30 feet 3
The AF list for Sept. 1955 lists the champion as a tree near
County, Tennessee - 24' 7", 160' high, spread 147' (points
would have been 494).
Since the Wethersfield elm would have (by the 1967 bulletin)
have had 503
points, it may once have been a national champion.
The 1955 AF list also has a photograph of the Wethersfield elm,
caption, "Down and out. All the arts of tree surgery failed
to save the famous
Wethersfield elm, which died in 1950." The photo shows a
flaring base, a
"waist" at about breast height, several large leads
with the lowest fork about
12 feet up, and three large injuries about 20' up filled with
The injuries are explained by Lamb, who states, "On the
morning after the
hurricane of 1938, only four of its six magnificent branches,
one of them
fortunately the largest, seventeen feet in girth, were left
The structure of the tree, said to have been planted in 1758,
might, in other
pictures, be taken to be more simple, essentially three leads.
on p.29 of the 1949 Yearbook of Agriculture (Trees) is quite
forks appear too high, the trunk is uninspired, and the crown,
intact, is sparsely limbed.
A very handsome print, ca. 10" x 12", by George
Goodlad Vogt, from nearly the
same angle, shows much more complex nuances of contour, a less
flare, and a more pronounced "waist". The treatment of
the crown, in ample
leaf, is very fine.
An excellent photograph before 1938 by Staley G. Cole appears on
p. 192 of
Lamb's Book of the Hardwood Trees. This appears to have been
taken to the left
of the above depictions, causing the forks to appear lower, with
leads arising from an immense mass of wood above a smaller
"waist". The left
and lowest lead is at a considerable angle, and may be a limb
upturned early on,
accentuating the "waist." This is also shown in the AF
appears to have been taken from the opposite side.
So, overall, a truly magnificent tree, open grown, with an
Cole's photograph is the best, and indicates the tree was
took advantage of the available space to divide low. To be fair,
of the trunk makes the various leads to appear lower than they
The most inclined lead may have originated below breast height,
considered, there wasn't anything "unfair" about the
trunk, which appears (from
the newsletter) to have been 30 feet 3 inches. For a tree with a
that's mighty impressive.
The elm near Trigonia, Tennessee was pretty impressive too, but
the AF record
shows it excelled in all three categories. The 24' 7" cbh
may have been a
single trunk, and the 147' spread seems possible for an elm, but
combination with a 160' height. It's obviously another case of
triangulation, and there's no reason to believe the height was
greater than the
Wethersfield elm's 97 feet.
That would put the Tennessee tree back to 431 AF points, nowhere
503-point Connecticut specimen. I've only seen
two Maryland trees as large;
the Wye Oak in its prime, and the great southern red oak which
stood at Cedar
Park, here in Anne Arundel County.