Travel Story–Chestnuts in the Willamette Valley of Oregon

August 19, 2012

Carolinas Chapter member Doug Gillis travels regularly to Portland, OR to visit family. While on extended trips he seeks out chestnut trees, some of which are listed as Treasure or Heritage Trees by local tree commissions. He locates others, often by chance. People from the east or areas where chestnut blight is a problem need to take precautions to not bring blight spores into the northwest. Click on any photo to enlarge it.

  • The Willamette Valley lies mainly southwest of Portland, Oregon. On a good day Mount Hood can be seen from Edy Road in Sherwood where the largest known American chestnut, planted in 1885 by a farmer named Hicks, grows at Hawks View Vineyard. The tree was featured in the February 1990 issue of National Geographic Magazine in an article, “Back from the Brink.”
  • Two American chestnut trees located just off Edy Road at the service entrance to the vineyard were previously ¬†maintained by Francis Boone, sixth Great-Grandson of Daniel Boone, and his wife June. Doug met Francis in 2005 and talked about his connection to the Boone Family. Doug is descended from Israel Boone, Daniel Boone’s brother.
  • In June 2012, Doug met up with Dave Van Bossuyt of Newberg, Oregon to check out numerous large American chestnuts growing in and near Portland. Dave is recently retired from Portland General Electric where he was responsible for right-of way maintenance along power lines. He is the brother of Rufin Van Bossuyt of the Massachusetts Chapter of TACF. Dave sought Doug’s help in identifying large chestnuts that may be American, European or crosses of American, European and Japanese.
  • One grove of trees Dave and Doug visited was at Settlemier Park in Woodburn, OR. Numerous large chestnuts grow in the park. ¬†One tree appeared an American chestnut while others in the grove appeared to be European or a cross of chestnut tree types.
  • Twig and leaf samples were collected for analyzation by experts to determine the variety and whether the tree is a cross of different chestnut types.
  • It is not unusual to see American, European or Japanese chestnut trees planted along streets in side or front yards of homes in the Portland area. People planting the trees knew that two different trees needed to grow in close proximity to pollinate each other.
  • A grove of chestnut trees planted at the Hoyt Arboretum near the Portland Zoo includes one American chestnut tree growing among several European chestnuts and several Chinese chestnuts. The lone American is the survivor of two American chestnuts planted in 1965.