|Waldo Park, 1958|
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
|Threats to trees in 1922! (August 12, 1922)|
Trouble looms for the Salem city council unless it elects to reconsider its recent order to cut down the giant redwood tree - the second one of its kind in Marion county - which for 73 years has stood at the corner of what is now Summer and Union streets....Our accepted history dates it younger by one generation. Daniel Waldo's son, William, was the one who planted it in this origin story.
The tree was brought to Oregon from California during the 1849 gold rush by Daniel Waldo...and was planted in what was then his front yard. The Waldo home stood for many years in what is now Union Street and faced the state capitol.
The tree was growing before the City of Salem was platted by Dr. W.H. Willson in 1850. Although it stand near the car track there is room for vehicle to pass on either side of it. [this photo from c.1948 shows street on both sides]
The year was 1872, and a traveling salesman was passing through a rural community way out West. The community was Salem. The salesman was peddling Sequoia gigantea, Redwoods.The itinerary of this "traveling salesman" has always been of interest, and it has seemed like there should be other trees standing from these 1872 plantings.
Judge William Waldo bought one and planted it on his property, which happened to be outside the city limits. The tree and the town grew, and so did William Waldo's prominence in the city's affairs. When the time came for Waldo's property to be platted and taken into the city, the judge's influence was great enough so he could successfully insist that the tree be preserved before he vacated his land for a state highway. [link to burial and obituaries added]
But what is the original documentation for the dating? Why are we confident in 1872? Is there any chance 1849 is right instead?
|Waldo House through the years|
(Pioneer Houses and Homesteads
in the Willamette Valley, 1841-1865
|The plaque in 2012|
Still, what what is our authority for the 1872 date? It is possible it's also a jumble! Do you know? And if any detail from the 1922 piece can be trusted, what about the "first" Sequoia in Marion County? (Like the Star Trees at Willamette, there are lots of Sequoias from the middle 20th century around town, and there seemed to be a fashion for them, but what about 19th century examples? It seems like there's a potentially interesting rural and urban history of their planting - especially if we can get a bead on this traveling salesman.)