Historic Tree Trail

About the Historic Tree Trail

The 100 plus young trees planted along the trails surrounding Emerald Lake are the genuine offspring of the original historic trees that bore witness to the lives and events that shaped our nation.

They were purchased from American Forest’s Historic Tree Nursery, which as been protecting, preserving and propagating historic trees since 1875. The one-year-old seedlings arrived at the park in 2000. They had been grown from cuttings or acorns handpicked from the original historic trees. Enjoy our stroll through history and reading our heritage.

Revolutionary War Tree Trail

History comes alive as you walk through the Revolutionary War Tree Trail. During the Independence Day holiday season, each tree is marked by the flag of the United States of America and a walking tour guide with photos is available in the Admissions Booth. Relive history as you view each tree and read the stories associated with each.

In the Admissions Booth be sure to check out some children’s books about American History and read aloud to your children the stories of the famous people and places. Along the way you’ll experience the brilliant colors of hundreds of daylilies and cannas and the beautiful blooms of crape myrtles. You’ll pass the rock saw used by the Clark’s in their telecommunications company. You'll likely see Doc, the graceful trumpeter swan, glide effortlessly across Emerald Lake. Under the ceiling fans alongside the waterfall in the Rose Pavilion is a nice place to sit and visit with friends and family.

Free Trail Phone App

You can follow this trail using a free app for your smart phone. EveryTrail is a mobile travel companion that enables travelers to track, share and search for nearby trips: hiking, cycling, skiing, etc. Go to EveryTrail http://www.everytrail.com/mobile for information on how to download the free app to your iPhone or Android phone. Once you have downloaded the app, you can download the Revolutionary War Tree Tour and walk the trail with your phone as your guide. Here's the direct link to the Clark Gardens Revolutionary War Tree Tour on EveryTrail.

Your walk will begin at the train depot. Leaving the train depot you will head west, cross the road, and enter under the arch.

Continue west for about 50 feet to our first tree—the River Farm Chaste Tree. Follow the path and let your imagination take you back to the days of our Founding Fathers.

1. River Farm Chaste Tree

River Farm is a horticultural site on the Potomac River where George Washington supervised the construction of Mount Vernon. He had purchased this 1,800-acre site in 1760 for a sum equivalent to $2,885 in today’s dollars and named it River Farm. Today, River Farm is the home of the American Horticultural Society.

2. Williamsburg Golden Raintree

Williamsburg was the thriving capital of Virginia when the dream of American freedom and independence was taking shape and the colony was a rich and powerful land stretching west to the Mississippi River and north to the Great Lakes. For 81 formative years, from 1699 to 1780, Williamsburg was the political, cultural, and educational center of what was then the largest, most populous, and most influential of the American colonies.

3. Montpelier Crape Myrtle

Our tree grew from seed handpicked from the President James Madison Crape Myrtle that stands at his Montpelier estate in Virginia. Madison, one of our nation’s founders, spent much of his life at Montpelier formulating his thoughts about democracy and government, and ultimately writing the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

When the trail T’s follow to the left (south) to the rock saw.

4. George Washington Tulip Poplar (in triangle garden area at corner of rock saw)

George Washington, the first Commander-in-chief and President of the United States, was also a successful plantation owner. He was an avid tree planter and experimented with different combinations of trees and plants to improve their quality. The Tulip Poplar, planted in 1785 by Washington at Mount Vernon, his home on the Potomac River in Virginia, is one of the nation’s most precious living possessions.

Follow the path along the westerly banks of Emerald Lake. The trees along this path are our Presidential Trees

 Western Edge of Emerald Lake
The path will turn to the East. Follow to the first large sycamore tree on the northwest corner of Emerald Lake.

5. Brandywine Battlefield Sycamore

The Brandywine Sycamore stands 3o feet from the home where George Washington prepared for the battle that became one of his most demoralizing losses in the Revolutionary War. In September 1777, on the eve of the Battle of Brandywine, Washington established headquarters at the farmhouse of Benjamin Ring, a Quaker farmer and miller. The house stood within easy access of Chadds Ford, where the British were expected to cross the river. The British took advantage of confusion caused by heavy fog to defeat Washington’s army.

Stay on the path with the cannon on your left.

The trees along this pathway make up the majority of our Civil War trees. The cannon is a replica from cannons used during the Civil War.  As you come to an intersection take the path to the right. The Patrick Henry Osage Orange tree sits back at this intersection in the corner on your left.

6. Patrick Henry Osage Orange

The former National Champion Patrick Henry Osage Orange is more than 400 years old. It has a span of 90 feet, stands 54 feet tall, and produces a large, green inedible fruit often called "mock oranges." The tree is the focal point at the grounds of Red Hill, Henry’s Virginia home and resting place. Patrick Henry is best known for his, "Give me liberty or give me death," speech. He has been called the "Voice of the American Revolution" for his insistence on individual freedoms under the Constitution and his efforts in the adoption of the Bill of Rights in 1791.

About 10 feet up the path on your right is the Minuteman Red Oak with the Betsy Ross Sycamore tree sitting tall behind it.

7. Minuteman Red Oak

The story of Minuteman is more than just the events that took place at Lexington Green, Concord's North Bridge, or along the Battle Road in 1775. Minute Man encompasses the story of an evolution of the ideals of freedom and liberty, new notions of cultural independence and citizen responsibility.

8. Betsy Ross Sycamore

The Betsy Ross sycamore shades the Philadelphia home and workshop of the seamstress-patriot who is credited with creating the Stars and Stripes. Born in 1752, she married John Ross in 1773. They opened an upholstery shop where Betsy worked as a seamstress, making flags and ships’ colors for the Philadelphia Navy Board. According to her grandson, William Canby, Betsy was commissioned to design the "Stars and Stripes" by a committee consisting of George Washington, Robert Morris and George Ross in 1777.

Straight ahead is the arbor lined with the Williamsburg Wisteria.

9. Williamsburg Wisteria

The Williamsburg Wisteria dates from the time Williamsburg served as the capitol of Colonial Virginia. Like the College of William and Mary and other architectural treasures at Virginia’s restored Colonial Williamsburg, the Williamsburg Wisteria, with its graceful lavender blossoms, is and American landmark to which thousands of visitors are drawn each year.

Follow the path until it circles back to the left (you’ll pass the first three trees) and take a left at the intersection. On your left you’ll find the Montpelier Red Maple.

10. Montpelier Red Maple

The President James Madison Red Maple stands at Montpelier, the sprawling Orange County, Virginia estate. Madison, one of the nation’s founders spent much of his life at Montpelier. Although Madison served two terms as president, his greatest contributions to the United States were his writing of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The trail continues straight ahead. On your left is the Mount Vernon Red Maple.

11. Mount Vernon Red Maple

The Mount Vernon Red Maple grows at the Virginia home of George Washington, the nation’s first president and commander of the Colonial Army. When Washington retired, it gained international attention. For Washington, however, it was a chance to return to the tranquil acres of his beloved Mount Vernon.

Continue through the intersection walking north and the White Plains Sycamore is on your left followed by the Minuteman Silver Maple and Minuteman Red Maple on your right.

12. White Plains Sycamore

In October, 1776, British General Howe ferried his men up the Hudson and landed them in Westchester, New York General George Washington's Continental Army was met at White Plains, New York, where a vicious engagement ensued. The Americans had small earthen walls put up on the high ground and Alexander Hamilton's artillery was thoroughly disturbing the movement of the British. Howe, however, turned the American flank and Washington withdrew his forces. The 35th Regiment lost its wealthy Lt. Colonel Robert Carr who was shot dead leading the regiment into battle. The Battle of White Plains was a British victory.

13. Minuteman Silver Maple

The Minuteman Silver Maple spreads it branches over a historic Massachusetts battlefield. On a country road outside Boston on April 19, 1775, the citizen-soldier of the American colonies first met in battle with the British. At North Bridge, which fords the Concord River the colonial militia, sworn to be "ready in a minute," fired the "the shot heard around the world" beginning the Revolutionary War.

14. Minuteman Red Maple

The Minuteman Red Maple was also witness to the "shot heard around the world." Like the Minuteman Silver Maple, the Minuteman National Historic Park, in Concord, Massachusetts, is home to this magnificent tree.

Lastly on your left is the large Stamp Act Sycamore.

15. Stamp Act Sycamore

The Stamp Act in 1765 required revenue stamps to help defray the cost of Royal troops in the colonies and led to the cry
"taxation without representation." Nine colonies, led by New York, adopted the Declaration of Rights in October 1765. When the Stamp Act was repealed on March 17, 1776, two sycamores were planted in Princeton, New Jersey to commemorate this victory. The massive trees stand today on the campus of Princeton University.

End of the Trail

We hope you enjoyed your tour of the Revolutionary War Trees. Be sure to continue your tour of the garden. Oxbow Lake is a comfortable place to relax and enjoy the ducks, geese, turtles, water lilies, and of course Houdini, the giant mute swan.