Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Search Challenge (5/27/15): Why so... young?

I recently had the chance... 

to visit Dartmouth College, that lovely old school in Hanover, New Hampshire.  Nestled in the forests over the White River, just on the border with Vermont, it's a verdant, green campus with beautiful old buildings, a large grassy quadrangle, and a young, energetic student population.  

Baker Memorial Library on Dartmouth Campus

The region is very rural, with hills, large tracts of forest, and the occasional farm.

As we drove around, one thing struck me:  in the forests near Dartmouth, all of the trees are fairly small in diameter.  In fact, the majority of them seem to be roughly the same size...and therefore (I surmise) roughly the same age.  

1.  Why?  

Some context:  I live near the Santa Cruz mountains, and when I walk through these forests, the trees vary enormously in size from one to the next.  There are young trees, but every so often you see truly gigantic trees of enormous girth and age.  (And I'm not even talking about the redwoods that live here, but just the local oak trees.)  
Near Dartmouth: Note tree sizes

So after a while in New Hampshire, it dawned on me that there's not a lot of size variation among the trees there.  And that's what led me to ask "why?"  

Near Dartmouth: Note tree sizes
There are a few older trees on the Dartmouth campus--most famously, it has an impressive collection of American elms (that are large, old, beautiful, and carefully protected by the school).  But what about just off-campus?  What happened there? 

Any ideas? 

An old American Elm on Dartmouth campus (2011)
Answering this question might be a little tricky as it involves a somewhat undefined region (let's limit it to the region near Dartmouth).  Even so, what will your resources be to answer this question?  

Search on!  (And be sure to let us know what you find out, and HOW you discovered it!)  


  1. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers

    At first, thought about possible agencies that cares for trees and forests. Thought about possible terms and names of trees. Also "Dartmouth" is keyword.


    [Dartmouth tree population age] [Dartmouth trees ages]
    [Dartmouth forestry ]

    [dartmouth geology]
    Baker Tower webcam.

    [dartmouth trees diameter]
    A pine cut long ago on the site of Dartmouth College was said to have been 240' tall. And says: "[Dartmouth, NH A Natural History of Trees]"

    [tree conservation dartmouth]also on News

    Places to go and things to see Ctrl- F "trees." Talks about Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust. (

    [dartmouth trees history]
    Old Growth
    Dartmouth's elms endure as defining features of the campus
    Source for possible answer (a).


    Why so... young?

    From A: Dutch elm disease arrived from Europe in the 1930s...Dartmouth's trees began to show signs of infection in the 1950s,Gratiot notes, the College adopted a very aggressive program to help the elms survive...Alongside the younger trees, older giants persevere.

    About this topic, I'll SearchReSearch more. I think is the answer just I want to learn more about it. It is amazing the work nurseries do and also looking trees for possible infections to keep them safe.

    Great Challenge as always!

    1. Ramón (regarding 5/22/15) - good find with the BBC - 6 alternativas donde buscar cuando Google no es suficiente - already giving Topsy & a try… thanks for pointing it out.
      scienceresearch SE tour

    2. Thanks, Remmij. I am trying too, and until today, still cero results. Do you find something? I tried in both pages many terms and nothing.

      Thanks also for your links. It was good to learn about José Clemente Orozco and Cat in the hat, for example. Also, I liked that now, money is not just for new trees but for maintenance. Still need to visit some.

  2. Soon as I saw big and little elms involved I was sure of my search process.

    [dutch elm disease new hampshire vermont]

    lots of hits but a nice explantion is here

    Some huge elms are OK because it is thought that the trees have been exposed to this or something similar and thus have built up a resistance. So, the big old ones are being used to develop new resistant stock.


  3. I searched for history new hampshire forest and found this site:
    The short answer for the area in general seems to be that the forests were poorly managed and also that there were a fair number of fires, so that until the 20th century there was not an effort to sustain the forests as land was cleared for settlers.
    In regard to Dartmouth in particular, the elm trees were subject to Dutch Elm Disease, although there is a concerted effort to care for and replace the trees that were lost. A search for Dartmouth College Trees, produced numerous results:

  4. Hanover, New Hampshire Hanover Grafton County County of Grafton. Climate data for the area gives us an indication of “short growing season”.

    Provides brief overview of the battle against the disease but more important is how well protected these majestic trees on campus are to Dartmouth. “The Dilemma of Dursban and Dartmouth’s Elms”

    Query "tree identification"

    “New Hampshire Arborists Association” following result:
    Book - Forever Green: The Dartmouth College Campus: An Arboretum Of Northern Trees. by Mollie K. Hughes, Susan Berry -no view

    Query [“new hampshire” “tree identification”] ”University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension” following result:

    USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service - Advanced Search - very detailed & didn’t pursue.

    County > Grafton >Trees Plant Database USA
    - long list - went back to image provided by Dr. Dan and I have made an assumption we are looking at White Pine.

    Link to AMC Guide to NH trees close up of trees, not pursued.

    Query ["white pine of hanover, new hampshire"]
    Dartmouth College Library White Pine Blister Rust in 1945. This may be a clue to a disease infesting the White Pine.

    Query The Pine Tree Riot Interesting story of value of the White Pine in 1772 that suggests the trees were worth what oil is to us today and another clue. "The only reason why the 'Rebellion' at Portsmouth and the 'Boston tea party' are better known than our Pine Tree Riot is because they have had better historians."

    My first thoughts about this challenge were that these trees are quite similar to what I see in my area. So I relate the smaller size to a climate with colder averages and shorter growing season which if you look at the chart on Hanover, New Hampshire at Wikipedia (see link) supports that conclusion.

    Next I considered diseases such as Dutch Elm & I read the article “The Dilemma of Dursban & Dartmouth’s Elms” but based on image we aren’t dealing with the elm. I found (see link) “White Pine Blister Rust” which could have impacted old growth.

    I then went about searching “tree identification” and didn’t conclusively prove identity but based on the image I feel these are White Pine which are known to be in the area.

    Then I found an article (see link) about the Pine Tree Riot so perhaps the worth made cutting these trees reduced supply dramatically.

    1. RRR - thought you might be interested in seeing the book - good find on the Pine Tree Riot, instructive history.
      p. 185 (Internet Archive has a new look)
      only a month behind…
      IA blog
      Bill Little

  5. one small detour regarding the Norwich grab you included - over in VT - you may have wondered about the balls yourself, as you wandered?
    ~55'deep there -"Lovely Bubbles"
    "But some are disappointed in the balls, with one local student remarking that they are “too San Francisco-y, and too much money. They try to say ‘Metropolitan Hanover’ or something. I don’t get it.”"
    …were supposed to be granite
    the balls from NH side
    R.I.P. in Cairo, John - that's a good distance from Dartmouth, to be sure - especially when starting out at the bridge in a self-crafted dugout…
    "The first "Ledyard Free Bridge" was a covered bridge built in 1859 that was the first bridge across the Connecticut not to charge a toll. (It was the latest of several bridges at this site that went back to the late 18th century.) The bridge was named after Ledyard in 1859 because its eastern abutment was near the site of a tree that Ledyard felled during 1773 in order to make the dugout canoe in which he left Dartmouth College to continue his world travels."
    to the left of New Hampshire:
    US out of VT
    on the other side of the "balls" bridge
    The Green Mountain Self-Determination Movement
    …and you thought you were a long way from Texas… or not, hmmm

  6. Here’s a pdf from 1958 discussing the marketability of the White Pine as lumber and was a major industry in the state.

    Next we have poetry - not what I would expect but it does tell us the “pines and elms left” and other interesting facts “Now you have seen how Dartmouth began, And how many trees have come and gone in this span”

    So we have several possibilities here - cold climate issues, disease, trees viable for lumber.

    1. Query [grafton county, new hampshire "elm or white pine" young growth] PDF “New Hampshire Statewide Forest Resources Assessment – 2010 Important Data and Information about New Hampshire’s Forests”
      provides lots of data & if you refer to [Page 7, Figure 8] it gives a frightening indication of how small the elm tree population is compared to the largest segment Northern Hardwood and the second largest being White & Red Pine. The term
      “northern hardwood” at Wikipedia mentions the “white pine” which I don’t think is accurate. So I searched elsewhere for a more definitive answer at Good Forest Practices in New Hampshire. More interesting facts [Page 18 Figures 20, 21, 22] indicating growth in commercial inventory of White & Red Pine. I got curious about “protected” trees in the state so with Control F I found that Grafton County (location of Dartmouth) has the largest unprotected acres of land [ Page 3 Figure 3]. With the commercialization of this tree for lumber old growth wouldn’t exist.

    2. Rosemary -- This PDF is a fascinating assessment of where NH is at this point (with projections outward). I was suprised to learn that ~40% of Grafton County is composed of "old trees" > 9 inches in diameter (which is, when you think about it, not very large). This suggests to me that much of the county forests is made of fairly small trees.

    3. Correction- The link regarding Page 18 Figures 20-22 & Page 3 Figure 3 is "New Hampshire Statewide Forest Resources
      Assessment – 2010"

      Sorry for any inconvenience.

  7. My Search path

    If the trees are all basically the same size, then I would assume they were pretty close in age. I wanted to find a mass planting or replanting of trees.

    I found some interesting things about a project undertaken by the Dartmouth class of 1950 in providing replanting and upkeep of trees on campus that were damaged by a storm. This was taken over by the class of 2000. The cost amount for planting and upkeep most likely ruled this out.

    I tried searching the news archive, regular Google and finally books. That's where I found that in the late 1800s there was a planting of 7,500 trees and then another 7,500 tree seedlings. They mention they were for park land south and east of the campus.

    I wasn't sure about how big the trees would be that were planted 150 years ago, so I searched for the age of giant sequoias. Comparing the age of the huge sequoias, 1800-2700 years old, it does seem plausible that trees that are 150 years old might that size.

    1. Fred -- Nice approach. I hadn't thought about searching for a mass planting... Nice idea.

  8. I forgot to mention in my previous comment that the book also mentions that a gas plant was created on the campus for power. The professor took the cheap way out and used wood for the gas
    resulting in many leaks. The leaking gas damged or killed many of the huge shade trees in the village.

  9. Using what Jon found about the Hurricane of 1938 I did a new search
    I haven't been able to read it thoroughly, but it may have some info. Effects of Logging History and Hurricane Damage on Canopy Structure in a Northern Hardwoods Forest on JSTOR