Arbor Week: Oregon

April 6, 2009 at 9:53 pm 3 comments

(Photo by sillydog)
Happy Arbor Week, Oregon!

Oregon celebrates its Arbor Week the first full week of April, so Happy Arbor Week Oregon!

Oregon selected their State Tree in 1939. They picked the Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). It was a valuable timber tree in the Oregon Territory, in part for its great strength. The wood is said to be stronger than concrete.

Naturalist John Muir was also aware of the strength of this particular tree. In 1874, he went hiking to witness the effects of a wind storm. Even though he could hear trees fall “at the rate of one every two or three minutes”, he decided to climb a tree to get a better view. He chose a Douglas-fir tree (or Douglas Spruce as he called it). He climbed to the top and hung on as the tree swayed in the strong winds. At times the tree’s top oscillated in a thirty degree arc, but Muir did not worry.

“I felt sure of its elastic temper, having seen others of the same species still more severely tried–bent almost to the ground indeed, in heavy snows–without breaking a fiber. I was therefore safe, and free to take the wind into my pulses and enjoy the excited forest from my superb outlook. “

He stayed in his “lofty perch for hours.”

You can read more about Muir’s adventures that day in Chapter 10 of The Mountains of California.

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at


Entry filed under: Arbor Day, John Muir, trees.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Michael Newman  |  April 7, 2009 at 8:57 am

    I’m pretty sure the Douglas Fir is only stronger than concrete in tension and bending; not in compression. It is a quite strong wood though; I called for it a lot when I was practicing structural engineering.

  • 2. tgaw  |  April 7, 2009 at 9:20 am

    @Michael Newman – Thanks for the clarification and thanks for stopping by! I hope you are Heather are doing great!

  • 3. geekhiker  |  April 7, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    I’ve read a lot of the things that Muir did, and he was one lucky son of a gun. I mean, not only did he pick the right tree, there wasn’t any lightening!

    I doubt I would be so lucky…


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