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New state arboretum dedicated

By Jim Conrad, jconrad@wcyb.com
Published On: Mar 18 2013 04:15:28 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 18 2013 11:00:00 PM CDT

It's more than a place to go and view trees; it's a place to go and learn all about them.

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. -

The state of Tennessee has about 50 arboreta, placeS where you can go view and learn about trees in your area.

Now there's one more -- it's inside the Sycamore Shoals State Historic Site in Elizabethton. It's a natural addition to the small state park and it's another historical teaching tool.

Threatening skies are not your perfect day for taking a self-guided tour of Tennessee's newest arboretum, a dedicated area to view examples and study trees and plants.

It's an added attraction to the historic Sycamore Shoals State Historic Site, an idea that began with the Carter County Chamber of Commerce. "We had certainly thought about this before but never had the personnel to really get it together and pull it off. Volunteers are totally what made this happen," superintendent of the park Jeffifer Bauer said.

That meant identifying 30 different species of trees in the park, with many of the species being native to the area and the state. "For the most part most of our trees are native to Tennessee. There is one interesting tree right here beside the visitors center which is a European Larch, which was actually brought here by the folks that opened the Bemberg Corporation many, many years ago," Bauer says.

But one within the recreated fort itself has an even more bizarre story. It's a sycamore, naturally, whose seed flew around the moon several times during Apollo 14.

"We had two different species. We had Loblolly Pine and American Sycamore so our state got four trees in 1976 that were seedlings and we delivered one of them up here at Sycamore Shoals State Park," Tom Simpson with the Tennessee Urban Forest Council said.

There's the little-known background of a couple of the many trees within the park, but with the dedication of the new level one arboretum, the learning opportunities for young and old are limitless.

"You can go to any one of the arboreta, you can tour through that site and we have trees labeled so that you can learn the species of trees by just attending the arboretum," Simpson says.

And learn to better identify the natural world around you that will soon overwhelm us all with their beauty.