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Giant Trees

Updated: Dec 14, 2022

I WAS EXCITED TO LEARN of a giant sequoia that happened to be growing on the bluffs of Lake Michigan just north of Manistee, a few miles from M-22.

A blanket of light snow could not deter my trip especially after learning about the tree on social media and watching a segment on CBS Weekend News. I was a little suspicious at first, but I took the above photo of this impressive specimen during my visit -- it is the real deal.

As the story goes, half a dozen sequoia saplings had been planted in 1949 having been secured during a California trip by a curious Manistee property owner. He took a hunch that they might take hold in northern Michigan. A few survived and have prospered for nearly seventy-five years on the bluffs of Lake Michigan.

My curiosity unearthed even more of this amazing story with further connections to these trees. A Copemish family whose own lineage has been skilled in nursery operations is committed to being a source for giant tree saplings. Armed with this newer science the family has propagated plants full of ancient genes taken from living tissue to perpetuate their survival.

During a spring trip in 1974, I was fortunate to visit the giant Redwood and Sequoia trees in California. I remember how impressive the Muir Woods and Sequoia National Park were to me. The trees were reported older than Jesus, which truly impressed me. Observing these behemoths in a surreal display of grandeur was as close to a heavenly experience as I had ever been through. It still gives me goosebumps as I recall standing beneath them in total awe.

My fascination has been rekindled with all these giants growing right in our backyard. These have also included recent visits to other sacred sites such as Hartwick Pines in Grayling and observing other giant species planted in the 1880s on the grounds of the former Traverse City State Hospital near Building 50.

The endeavors of arborists in cloning these massive trees and in their propagation for newer generations are simply impressive. Imagine all this genius with Mother Nature and man working together right in our backyard.

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