Our Historic State Capitol Park

Preserving Lost Civil War Trees

Capitol Park Tree Map / Capitol Park Tree Inventory Document

On January 18, 2017, the People of California lost three century old trees that began as saplings in the 1890's at spots honored for their ties to the American Civil War.  Two trees - a 90 foot Tulip Tree and an 85 foot American Elm - toppled to the ground in that storm and in doing so, they struck and shattered a Box Elder that remains standing although badly damaged alongside a pair of broken benches.

Early in the morning of Thursday, March 2, 2017, a crane was maneuvered into the park and positioned to lift the four massive trunk sections, three from the Tulip and one from the Elm, onto trucks and hauled away to a sawmill for milling and careful drying out. The hope is that in time, this wood will be returned to the Capitol, perhaps as benches, or converted into wooden art objects for display.

Here are some important facts about the trees:

  • The 90 foot Tulip Tree was planted as a sapling in 1897 and came from the Battlefield of Five Forks, Virginia.  This March 31st-April 1st 1865 battle (and Union victory) set in motion the end of the Civil War just eight days later: General Robert E. Lee's surrender to Ulysses S. Grant (the North's Commanding General) at Appomattox Court House in Virginia was on April 9th, 1865.
  • The 85 foot American Elm was from the site of the Tomb of President William McKinley, the last American President to have served in the Civil War; he was buried in 1901.  It was added to California's Civil War Grove in 1902.
  • The shattered Box Elder was planted in 1897 as a sapling from Missionary Ridge, Tennessee.  The Battle of Missionary Ridge was fought on November 25, 1863.  Led by Union General, Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman and George Thomas, the Union routed the Confederate Army of Tennessee. This was General Grant’s final battle in the West: he moved east soon thereafter to assume command of all Northern Armies.
An image of a crane on background of website.


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