Bringing Elm trees back to Warrensburg

WARRENSBURG - Up through the 1920s, gracious Elm trees lined the roadways of Warrensburg, arching over the streets and providing a shady green canopy.

Since then, due to roads being widened and the scourge of the Dutch Elm disease, the elegant canopy no longer exists.

But local students, area history buffs and members of the Warrensburgh Beautification gathered Aug. 30 to launch an effort to return Elm trees to Main St. and regain the gracious ambiance.

On Arbor Day, The Warrensburgh Historical Society members and students of Warrensburg High school planted two disease-resistant Liberty Elms flanking the front of the Warrensburg Senior Center.

Warrensburg High School student Cole Tennant stuck his shovel in dirt surrounding the tree, mixing up mulch, soil and nutrients.

"It will be cool to come back here in 30 or 40 years and know that I helped plant these trees," he said as he worked.

The Liberty Elm is not a hybrid, but a genuine American Elm derived from survivors of generation after generation of Elms inoculated with the disease in a program conducted over 50 years by Cornell University and other colleges.

Paul Gilchrist of the Historical Society noted that Warrensburg has a claim to fame regarding the species, as the town hosts one of the 10 largest surviving Elm trees in the U.S., he said.

This American Elm stands beside the driveway to Quintal's Smoke House off upper Main St. The tree was measured at 105 feet tall and 16 feet in circumference.

It has been certified as a National Historic Elm, he said.

Several others, not quite so large, are scattered about town, he said. Recently Gilchrist and other Society members planted Elm trees at the local cemetery as well as on the Richards Library lawn.

He noted that people interested in planting Liberty Elms can contact a society member for ordering information, as buying saplings in bulk can reap substantial savings.

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