Nevada April 29, 2019
There’s No Other Historical Landmark In Nevada Quite Like This 5,000-Year-Old Tree Stump
Nevada is home to all sorts of ancient treasures and historical landmarks, but few compare in age to this 5,000-year-old tree stump. This tree had been around for a long, long, long time before it was unfortunately cut down, and seeing it for yourself is a downright humbling experience. We can only imagine how glorious the tree would look if it was still standing today, but it’s still a breathtaking destination all the same. Make it a priority to check out the remnants of what was once considered the oldest living tree in the world, and prepare to be in awe.
Great Basin National Park is by far one of the country's most underrated gems. This amazing park is chock full of treasures, including some of the oldest trees in the world.
Every Nevadan knows that Great Basin's bristlecone pine trees are some of the most fascinating organisms in existence. Not only are they incredible to look at, but they are known to live for thousands upon thousands of years. They are thought to be the oldest living things in the world, with the oldest being a tree called Prometheus.
The Prometheus tree grew near the tree line on Wheeler Peak and was believed to be at least 4,862 years old. Although, it may have exceeded 5,000 years! Unfortunately, all that remains of it today is a stump, since it was tragically cut down in 1964.
The geographer who cut it down, Donald R. Currey, was doing research on ice age glaciology at the time. He was given permission by the United States Forest Serve to take core samples from various bristlecone pines around Wheeler Peak.
Specifically, Currey was studying trees he believed to be over 4,000 years old. He would look at the growth patterns on their cores to determine patterns of good and bad growing seasons. It was important research, but it ended in misfortune.
Currey cut down Prometheus and only later realized how old the tree was when he counted the rings on the core. At the time, Prometheus was the oldest tree that had ever been dated.
some good did come from the cutting of the Prometheus tree. It's believed this incident was a huge factor in the movement to protect bristlecones, especially the ones around Wheeler Peak. Today, bristlecone pines are protected on federal lands.
The stump of Prometheus is all that remains, but it's a mighty stump indeed. Seeing it for yourself is still a humbling experience that makes you appreciate just how tough these trees really are.
A slab of Prometheus' core is on display at the Great Basin Visitor Center for anybody who'd like to try counting the rings for themselves. However, it may take you awhile to do so!
Did you know just how old this tree stump was? This historical landmark is an amazing sight that every Nevadan should see. For more long-standing destinations like this one, check out our list of
10 Historical Landmarks In Nevada You Absolutely Must Visit.