Cleveland July 28, 2019
There’s No Other Historical Landmark In Cleveland Quite Like These 200-Year-Old Trees
The year 1796 was an interesting year in American history. George Washington was the sitting president, and it was in this year that he famously issued his
Farewell Address. Tennessee was just admitted as a state, and, of course, Moses Cleaveland landed in what would become the city we now know as Cleveland. Cleveland is famously nicknamed Forest City, and for good reason – it boasts an impressive collection of forested land, some of which harbors trees that are hundreds of years old. These trees, now known as Moses Cleaveland trees, have a fascinating history that most Clevelanders are unaware of.
The Cleveland Sesquicentennial Commission set out in 1946 to identify trees that were standing at the time of Moses Cleaveland's arrival to Cleveland.
On July 22, 1796, Moses Cleaveland landed in a community that would come to bear his name. When Cleveland Sesquicentennial Commission concluded their analysis of local trees, more than 150 were identified as standing in the year of Moses Cleaveland's arrival.
The trees they identified were labeled with a plaque declaring:
"This is a Moses Cleaveland Tree.
It was standing here as a part of the original forest when Moses Cleaveland landed at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River July 22 1796. Let us preserve it as a living memorial to the first settlers of the Western Reserve.
The Sesquicentennial Commission"
All in all, 23 different species were identified as "Moses Cleaveland trees." The largest, at the time, was 113 inches in diameter and could be found in the Rocky River Reservation.
The trees, all of which were or are located in Cuyahoga County, were massive and awe inspiring.
The oldest tree identified in this forgotten project was located in North Chagrin Reservation. It was believed to have started growing around 1424, but it was ultimately cut down in 1958.
Since the project, many trees continued to grow... but some fell victim to the wrath of Mother Nature.
This charmer was originally located along the walking track above Cahoon Creek in Bay Village, where she stood for centuries. However, as is true with many other Moses Cleaveland trees, the elements took a toll on this tree... "Her Majesty," as she was known, was struck by lightning and no longer stands.
To commemorate the city's 175th birthday, the Early Settlers Association of the Western Reserve formed a committee to follow up on the Moses Cleaveland trees... many were found to be in good health!
The committee found that most of the plaques had since disappeared... only 15 of the original 150 trees still bore their original metal plaques. 92 of the original 150 Moses Cleaveland trees were still standing at the time of their analysis.
Many are still in good health today, actually, and they can be found in some of Greater Cleveland's most prominent sites.
Lake View Cemetery (pictured) boasts several healthy Moses Cleaveland trees, and others can be found in Forest Hill Park, Euclid Creek Reservation, and in the yard of unsuspecting area residents. Ultimately, the number of Moses Cleaveland trees still standing today has not been determined.
One enchanting black oak in Wade Park also bears the title of Moses Cleaveland tree, and it can be found just north of the Cleveland Museum of Art.
At the time of this tree's initial analysis in 1946, it had been struck by lightning but had maintained a sound structure. It can still be spotted today, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a "central stem and wide ascending branches," as the original report states, next time you're in Wade Park.
As you drive through Greater Cleveland, keep your eyes peeled for massive trees... they just might have been standing when Moses Cleaveland first set foot in his namesake city.
Think you may have a Moses Cleaveland tree in your yard? You can find out by measuring at 4.5 feet up the trunk, dividing the circumference by pi, and then multiplying this number by your tree's
species growth factor
The Moses Cleaveland trees are a piece of Cleveland’s history hidden in plain sight. Do you know of any Moses Cleaveland trees in your community? We’d love to hear your thoughts and stories regarding these amazing trees!
Fascinated by these trees? You can find other historic trees in the
Cleveland Metroparks’ loveliest old growth forest.