Stately oaks shade BGSU for centuries PDF Print E-mail
Written by By HAROLD BROWN Sentinel City Editor   
Saturday, 01 May 2010 08:36
Dr. Carol Cartwright, left, Dr. Helen Michaels looking over part of a core of a White Oak tree that is 136 years old. 4/30/10 (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Long before anyone lobbied the Ohio Legislature for a normal college or Elisha Martindale built the first cabin in what was to become Bowling Green, oak trees were a prominent feature in the Great Black Swamp.
Nearly two dozen old oaks can be found today around the Bowling Green State University campus, including one that officials have estimated to be 259 years old. Before the land for the campus was given to the state it was known as the City Park.
Friday morning the university designated 23 Century Trees, the youngest of which is estimated at 112 years old, as part of its Centennial Celebration.
The oldest is a white oak standing just a few feet south of Williams Hall in the heart of the campus. The other oak species in the group are chinquapin, red and swamp white.
"We have a senior class that has been with us our entire 100 years," BGSU President Carol Cartwright said. She said the trees can be viewed as "a recruiting tool"  that most people probably take for granted.
“Because it leans dramatically toward the south, it can be easily spotted in the earliest photos of the campus, including one taken from the steps of University Hall in 1920,” Cartwright said. Several old photos were used to help identify “candidate” trees.
Ages of the trees were determined by taking a small core sample, with the help of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, counting the number of rings in the sample. The length of the core sample was divided by the number of rings to determine the annual growth rate and the radius of the tree was then divided by the annual growth rate to determine the approximate age.
Frank Schemenauer, campus horticulturalist, who started at BGSU as a tree trimmer about 20 years ago, said he wanted to get the ODNR involved so that the cores were taken in a way not to damage the trees. “Stephanie Miller (an urban forester with ODNR) got us started and we went from there,” he said.
BGSU President Dr. Carol Cartwright with 259 year old White Oak behind her. The oldest tree on campus.
Schemenauer believes an oak that came down nearby in a wind storm a few years ago might have been older than the one designated Thursday. “It had a hollow center,” he said.
Century Trees away from the center of campus can be found on Thurstin Avenue near the sorority houses; along Ridge Street, including one near the Student Health Center; one behind Bowen-Thompson Student Union and one south of McFall Center near Wooster Street.
Senior Director of Communications David Kielmeyer came up with the Century Tree idea last summer. Windows in parts of his Administration Building office overlook the area where most of the trees are located. He contacted Schemenauer, who now works with the biology department. Dr. Helen Michaels, a biological sciences professor, was also involved.
Cartwright said the 23 trees remove 32,676 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air per year.
Each tree is designated by a sign and has a small plaque at its base to identify the tree number and species.
For a map with location of the trees:,-83.641180&spn=0.007729,0.013733&z=16&source=embed

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