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  • Writer's pictureRobert Adams

Giant Trees

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

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

Ever-persistent light snow could not deter my visit after learning about the trees on social media and watching a segment on CBS Weekend News. I was a little skeptical at first. On my visit, I took the above photo of this impressive specimen -- it is the real deal.

Half a dozen saplings were planted in 1949 having been secured during a California trip by a curious Manistee property owner. He took a hunch that the sequoia trees might take hold in northern Michigan. A few survived and have prospered for almost seventy-five years on the sandy bluffs.

My curiosity unearthed even more of this amazing story finding further connections to these trees. A Copemish family whose own lineage has been steeped in nursery operations is committed to being a source for giant trees. Armed with the knowledge of genetic science the family has propagated saplings preserving ancient genes from living tissue.

During a spring trip in 1974, I was fortunate to visit the giant Redwood and Sequoia trees in California. (Little tidbit: I had to look up the year I was there as I was downtown San Francisco at the same time Patty Hearst was robbing a bank just a block from me.) I remember how impressive the Muir Woods and Sequoia National Park were to me. The trees were reported older than Jesus, which truly amazed 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 the grove in total awe.

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

The endeavors of arborists in propagating these massive trees and creating offspring for newer generations on our planet are simply impressive. Imagine all this genius with Mother Nature and human beings working together right in our backyard.

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