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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"'Old Apple Tree', Vancouver, Washington"
Includes ... "Old Apple Tree" ... Old Apple Tree Park ... Vancouver ...
Image, 2007, Old Apple Tree, Vancouver, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Old Apple Tree", Vancouver, Washington. Image taken April 5, 2007.


"Old Apple Tree" ...
Vancouver, Washington's "Old Apple Tree" ("Mallus spp.") was one of five seeds planted in late 1826 and then eventually placed outside of the gates of the first Fort Vancouver. The seeds for the tree were brought over from England by Emilius Simpson. The "Columbian.com" website, covering local history of Vancouver, tells the story:

"... It all started at a party in London ... A lady at a farewell dinner party for Lieut. Emilius Simpson, the cousin of Hudson's Bay governor Sir George Simpson, playfully put the seeds of her desert apple into his waistcoat pocket. She asked him to plant them when he arrived at his destination on the other side of the world. Emilius Simpson arrived in Vancouver in November of 1826 and was soon invited to dine with Dr. McLoughlin in the stockade on the present Deaf School site. During the evening he absentmindedly stuck a finger into his waistcoat and discovered the seeds. Dr. McLoughlin, Simpson and Pierre C. Pambrun planted the apple seeds in small boxes which were put under glass. Dr. McLoughlin kept the boxes in the store where they could not be touched. The apple tree was planted outside the fort when he felt it could survive. Around 1830, Washington's first apple harvest occurred. It was here in Vancouver, and produced one apple. ..." ["Columbian.com" website, 2007, "Local History, Old Apple Tree"]

"Old Apple Tree Park" ...
Today the "Old Apple Tree" is the centerpiece for the "Old Apple Tree Park", and is one of the endpoints for the "Land Bridge and Interpretive Trail" connecting the Fort Vancouver and Vancouver National Historic Reserve area with Vancouver's Waterfront Park and the Waterfront Renaissance Trail. Vancouver's Old Apple Tree Park was dedicated on October 19, 1984, and every year the City holds the "Old Apple Tree Festival" on the first Saturday in October at the Old Apple Tree Park.

Offspring ...
Throughout the years cuttings from the "Old Apple Tree" have been rooted and planted and have survived, including one planted in 1950 next to the Clark County Historical Museum.


"Timeline"

1911, Discovery ...
Oldest Apple Tree In Northwest At Vancouver

"VANCOUVER BARRACKS, Wash., Jan.21. -- (Special.) -- The discovery this week of the oldest apple tree in the Northwest, which has borne fruit for more than 80 years, has aroused much interest, and hundreds have visited the post just to see the tree with a remarkable record.

Colonel George K. McGunnegle, commander of the post, as soon as he was convinced by A.A. Quarnberg, district fruit inspector, that this tree was planted 85 years ago, gave orders to have it preserved. A suitable fence around the base of the tree will be built, and a stone monument, with a short hisotry of its remarkable record, will be placed in the enclosure. Relic hunters who desire a piece of the tree will be severely punished if caught marring the oldest inhabitatnt of any apple orchard in the Northwest.

The fact that this tree, after 80 years of bearing, should bear fruit each year, is regarded as of the utmost importance to the apple raising industry in the Northwest.

This tree is located in the southwest corner of the reservation, in front of the Chief Commissary's office. So little was thought of the scrubby-looking relic of bygone days that it was used to anchor a guy wire to. This has been removed. The trestle seen in the rear of the tree is that of the North Bank Railroad, passing through the reservation and Vancouver.

The tree is 16 inches in diameter and about 20 feet high."


Source:    "Morning Oregonian", Saturday, January 21, 1911, courtesy Oregon Historic Newspapers Digital Archives website, University of Oregon Libraries, 2015.


Image, 1911, Vancouver's Old Apple Tree, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
HISTORICAL NEWSPAPER IMAGE, "Tree Planted 85 Years Ago Bears Fruit.", Vancouver Barracks, Vancouver, Washington. "Morning Oregonian", Saturday, January 21, 1911, courtesy Oregon Historic Newspaper digital archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2015.


1914 ...

Image, 1911, Vancouver's Old Apple Tree, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
HISTORICAL PHOTO, "Old Apple Tree at Fort Vancouver, Washington, the Seed for Which Was Planted About 1825". Source: The Encyclopedia of Practical Horticulture: A Reference ... Volume 1, page 62, edited by Granville Lowther and William Worthington, 1914.


1917 ...
First Apple Tree of the Northwest

"In the Vancouver Barracks, State of Washington, there stands an apple tree of more than ordinary interest. ...

It is said that the seed planted by the gardener, Bruce, produced several trees, three of which lived for a long time, and were pointed out as the only apple trees in the northwest. In the course of time two of them disappeared, leaving the present tree alone. Even the existence of this tree seems to have been almost entirel forgotten by the general public, not even the commander of the Barracks knowing that such a tree stood on the very ground which he controlled. It was largely through the horticulture inspector of this district, Mr. A.A. Quarnberg, that the tree was discovered and identified. In 1911 Mr. Quarnberg wished to have a gavel made of wood from this apple tree for the Washington State Horticultural Society, and upon examining the same, found it badly infected with San Jose scale, half its brances dead, and in a bad condition generally. On January 13th that year he called upon Col. G.K. McGunnigle, Commander of the Barracks, and got the necessary permit to prune, spray and do anything necessary to preserve the life of the tree. On January 25th, by direction of the Washington State Commissioner of Horticulture, he took measurements -- the same year -- and found the tree to have the following dimensions: One foot from the ground, 1 1/2 feet in diameter; height, 33 feet, and spread of crown, 33 feet. On February 20-21, this year, the tree was pruned, and all dead branches and brush removed, the rotten wood in the trunk and branches cleaned out and filled with plaster-paris and cement, and all cuts painted. Later it was sprayed and a good cost of manure applied at its roots.

In 1915 the Department of Agriculture at Washington requested Mr. Quarnberg to send them specimen apples for making wax forms."


Source:    H.S. Zimmerman, 1917, "First Apple Tree of the Northwest": IN: American Forestry, Vol.XXIII, No.286, October 1917, magazine of the American Forestry Association.


Image, 1911, Vancouver's Old Apple Tree, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
HISTORICAL PHOTO, "Old Apple Tree at Fort Vancouver, Washington, ". Source: "American Forestry", 1917, magazine of the American Forestry Association.


Ca.1914-1920 ...

Image, 1911, Vancouver's Old Apple Tree, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: "The Old Apple Tree, Planted 1826, Vancouver, Wash., On Pacific Highway". Penny Postcard ca.1914-1920, Published by Wesley Andrews, Inc., Portland, Oregon, No.542. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


1920, "Tree, 95, Bears Apples" ...
TREE, 95, BEARS APPLES
Seeds Brought Around Horn in Pockest of Hudson's Bay Officials.

"VANCOUVER, Wash., Dec.8. -- (Special.) -- Two apples grown on the famous old apple tree in Vancouver barracks, were picked today by A.A. Quarnberg. This apple tree is the oldest in the Paciic northwest if not the United States, having been planted in 1826 by Bruce, the gardener for the Hudson's Bay Trading company. This makes the apple tree more than 95 years old.

The seeds were brought around the Horn in a sailing vessel by Hudson's Trading company officials, who carried them in a waistcoat pocket. The tailor was cleaning out the pockets and found these apple seeds, and he gave them to the gardener who planted them. Many trees were raised. All have died except one."


Source:    "Morning Oregonian", December 9, 1920, courtesy Oregon Historic Newspapers Digital Archives website, University of Oregon Libraries, 2015.



1940 ...

Penny Postcard, ca.1950s, Vancouver's Old Apple Tree, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: The Old Apple Tree, Vancouver, Washington. Penny Postcard 1940. Caption on back: "No.35 in Union Oil Company's Natural Color Scenes of the West. Father of the great Northwest apple industry is this oldest apple tree. Grown from seed brought from England in 1826, the tree is still bearing. It may be seen at Vancouver army barracks, Vancouver, which originally was a Hudson Bay Post." Copyright 1940, Union Oil Co. of California. Made in U.S.A. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


1950, Ice Storm ...
According to the 2010 Northwest Cultural Resources Institute Short Report No.34, an ice storm in January 1950 broke off the Old Apple Tree's larger fork, leaving behind the scraggly smaller branch.

2007 ...

Image, 2007, Old Apple Tree, Vancouver, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Old Apple Tree", Vancouver, Washington. Image taken April 5, 2007.
Image, 2007, Old Apple Tree, Vancouver, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Old Apple Tree" fence and sign, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken April 5, 2007.

"Services To Maintain The Old Apple Tree donated by Collier Arbor Care."


2011 ...

Image, 2011, Vancouver's Old Apple Tree, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Old Apple Tree", Old Apple Tree Park, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken August 2, 2011.
Image, 2011, Vancouver's Old Apple Tree, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Apple from the "Old Apple Tree", Old Apple Tree Park, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken August 2, 2011.
Image, 2011, Vancouver's Old Apple Tree, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Apple from the "Old Apple Tree", Old Apple Tree Park, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken August 2, 2011.
Image, 2011, Vancouver's Old Apple Tree, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Apple from the "Old Apple Tree", Old Apple Tree Park, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken August 2, 2011.


2014, 2015 ...

Image, 2014, Vancouver's Old Apple Tree, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Old Apple Tree", Old Apple Tree Park, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken January 4, 2014.
Image, 2015, Vancouver's Old Apple Tree, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Old Apple Tree", Old Apple Tree Park, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken January 3, 2015.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 4, 1805 ...
A cloudy cool morning wind from the West we Set out at 1/2 past 8 oClock [from their camp on the north side of Government Island, approximately across from Fisher's Landing], one man Shannon Set out early to walk on the Island [Government Island] to kill Something, he joined us at the lower point with a Buck. This island is 6 miles long and near 3 miles wide thinly timbered     (Tide rose last night 18 inches perpndicular at Camp) near the lower point of this diamond Island [Government Island] is The head of a large Island Seperated from a Small one by a narrow chanel [Lewis and Clark show two large islands on their maps, both in today's Government Island area], and both Situated nearest the Lard Side, those Islands [even today the Government Island reach is a complex of many islands] as also the bottoms are thickly Covered with Pine &c. river wide, Country low on both Sides; [since 1983 the Interstate 205 bridge crosses Government Island connecting Oregon to Washington]     on the Main Lard Shore a Short distance below the last Island we landed at a village of 25 Houses: [near Portland International Airport]; ...     This village contains about 200 men of the Skil-loot nation ...

at 7 miles below this village passed the upper point of a large Island [Hayden Island] nearest the Lard Side, a Small Prarie [Jolie Prairie, today the location of Fort Vancouver and Pearson Airpark. Lewis and Clark camp on this prairie on their return] in which there is a pond [one of the many ponds which use to dot this area] opposit on the Stard. here I landed and walked on Shore, about 3 miles a fine open Prarie for about 1 mile, back of which the countrey rises gradually and wood land comencies Such as white oake, pine of different kinds, wild crabs with the taste and flavour of the common crab and Several Species of undergroth of which I am not acquainted, a few Cottonwood trees & the Ash of this countrey grow Scattered on the river bank, ...     joined Capt. Lewis at a place he had landed with the party for Diner. ...

dureing the time we were at dinner those fellows Stold my pipe Tomahawk which They were Smoking with [Tomahawk pipe, thus giving rise to the name Tomahawk Island] ...    we proceeded on

[The men have passed through the area which, 20 years later, Dr. John McLoughlin would choose for a trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company, later to become Fort Vancouver and eventually the city of Vancouver, Washington.]

met a large & a Small Canoe from below, with 12 men the large Canoe was ornimented with Images carved in wood the figures of <man &> a Bear in front & a man in Stern, Painted & fixed verry netely on the <bow & Stern> of the Canoe, rising to near the hight of a man [Lewis and Clark then named Hayden Island "Image Canoe Island"]     two Indians verry finely Dressed & with hats on was in this canoe passed the lower point of the Island [Hayden Island] which is nine miles in length haveing passed 2 Islands on the Stard Side of this large Island [the location of Vancouver Landing and since 1917 the Interstate 5 Bridge connecting Oregon to Washington State], three Small Islands at its lower point [The downstream end of Hayden Island was at one time composed of small islands. One of these, Pearcy Island, would become today's Kelley Point.]. the Indians make Signs that a village is Situated back of those Islands on the Lard. Side and I believe that a Chanel is Still on the Lrd. Side [it wasn't until Lewis and Clark's return trip they would discover the mouth of the Willamette River] as a Canoe passed in between the Small Islands, and made Signs that way, probably to traffick with Some of the nativs liveing on another Chanel, at 3 miles lower [Sauvie Island is located at this stretch, but it is not until the return that Lewis and Clark recognize it as a separate island], and 12 Leagues below quick Sand river [Sandy River] passed a village of four large houses on The Lard. Side [on Sauvie Island], near which we had a full view of Mt. Helien [Mount St. Helens, Washington] which is perhaps the highest pinical in America from their base it bears N. 25 E about 90 miles- This is the mountain I Saw from the Muscle Shell rapid [Umatilla Rapids, Captain Clark actually saw Mount Adams] on the 19th of October last Covered with Snow, it rises Something in the form of a Sugar lofe- about a mile lower passed a Single house on the Lard. Side, and one on the Stard. Side, passed a village on each Side and Camped near a house on the Stard. Side [Post Office Lake vicinity, today within the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge] we proceeded on untill one hour after dark with a view to get clear of the nativs who was constantly about us, and troublesom, finding that we could not get Shut of those people for one night, we landed and Encamped on the Stard. Side ...

This evening we Saw vines much resembling the raspberry which is verry thick in the bottoms. A range of high hills at about 5 miles on the Lard Side [Portland's West Hills'] which runs S. E. & N W. Covered with tall timber the bottoms below in this range of hills and the river is rich and leavel, Saw White geese with a part of their wings black. The river here is 1 miles wide, and current jentle. opposite to our camp on a Small Sandy Island [one of the small sandy islands prevelent in this stretch of the Columbia. Today the Willow Bar Islands on the east side of Sauvie Island lie across from Post Office Lake.] the brant & geese make Such a noise that it will be impossible for me to Sleap. we made 29 miles to day





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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources:    City of Vancouver website, 2007, "City of Vancouver Heritage Trees";    "Columbian.com" website, 2007, "Old Apple Tree";    Cromwell, R.J., Ph.D., 2010, "A Short History of the "Old Apple Tree", Located in the Old Apple Tree Park, Vancouver National Historic Reserve, Vancouver, Washington, Compiled from Various Historical Sources: September 2010, Northwest Cultural Resources Insititue Short Report No.34, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, National Park Service;    "Oregon Historic Newspapers" website, 2015, University of Oregon Library Digital Archives;    Vancouver Parks and Recreation website, 2007;    Washington State Department of Transportation website, 2007;    Zimmerman, H.S., 1917, "First Apple Tree of the Northwest": IN: American Forestry, Vol.XXIII, No.286, October 1917, magazine of the American Forestry Association.

All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
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August 2011