Trees of History

On a July afternoon in 1951, several well-dressed ladies in hats and gloves gathered at the northern edge of the Knoll on Old Main lawn to watch gardener Glenn Jordan peel back the layers of a campus relic, a large tree stump.

One of the ladies, Helen Mathes, said the stump was a remnant of the grove of large trees that once stood on Western’s campus. Her husband Edward T. Mathes, Western’s first president, left the stump as a reminder of the campus’s wooded past, she said. It was considered such an important symbol of Western’s history that president W.W. Haggard attended the Stump Ceremony in which Jordan scraped away 50 years of ivy growth.

The remains of the stump, possibly a Western red cedar, is still in the wooded area on the small hill across High Street from the Viking Union. What’s left of one of the original trees on campus is now nursing the roots of two birches and an American mountain ash.

Those who love the trees of Western as much as these ladies did can find kindred spirits at the @wwuarborists Instagram feed.


Photo courtesy of Western Washington University Libraries Special Collections