Fort Stanwix Tree

Rome, New York

[Ellis letter, 16 May 1975] [Preston letter, 4 June 1975] [Waldron letter, 12 March 1976]
Ellis letter offering seedlings to state foresters / Preston letter requesting seedlings for New York / Waldron letter requesting tree for Fort Stanwix

A sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) Moon Tree was planned to be planted at or near Fort Stanwix National Monument, in Rome, New York, circa June 1976. The paper trail described below is the only evidence we have of the tree's history. The original letter mentions ".... planting in close proximity to the new Fort Stanwix National Monument.", so it is possible the tree was not planted on the Fort Stanwix grounds.

A letter addressed to "All State Foresters Field Offices" was sent by Howard Burnett (for Thomas Ellis) of the Forest Service Office in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, to the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation, Lands and Forests Administration, dated May 16, 1975. The letter, which was presumably the beginning step for most of the Moon Trees planted around the country, offered Moon Tree seedlings for planting in New York. (Howard Burnett also took part in the first official Moon Tree planting in Philadelphia and wrote a first hand description of the event.) On June 4, 1975, James O. Preston, Director of the Division of Lands and Forests, responded with a request to Howard Burnett for one or more of the Moon Tree seedlings for New York state.

On September 30, 1975, Thomas Ellis sent a letter to James Preston informing him that limited numbers of seedlings would be available for each state for planting during the Bicentennial. On December 18, 1975, James Preston sent a memorandum to Deputy Commissioner Hullar informing him that one seedling had been allocated for the Fulton Ferry in Brooklyn, and they were requesting two more, possibly for Buffalo and Syracuse. On 12 March 1976, Colonel David Waldron, the Griffiss Air Force Base Civil Engineer, sent a letter to James Preston requesting a Moon Tree for planting at Fort Stanwix National Monument or at another location within the city of Rome, N.Y. The office had already been in contact with John McGuire, R. Max Peterson, and Philip L. Thornton. (Max Peterson later planted a Moon Tree in September 1978 which is now part of Scott Jenkins Memorial Park

[Ellis letter, 30 September 1975] [Preston letter, 18 December 1975] [Waldron letter, 12 March 1976]
Ellis letter to Preston on bicentennial seedlings / Preston letter that three seedlings were going to New York / Waldron letter to Preston requesting tree for Fort Stanwix

Barton Zeh wrote to Ron Dinas of the Institute of Forest Genetics in Gulfport, Mississippi, on March 15, 1976, to arrange for shipping of three sycamore seedlings after April 30, 1976, and inquiring about the exact date. On 14 April 1976, Barton Zeh wrote to Col. Waldron letting him know that a sycamore tree had been obtained for Fort Stanwix and would be shipped on May 3, and asking for arrangements. It is possible two separate shipments were arranged.

[Zeh letter, 15 March 1976] [Zeh letter, 14 April 1976]
Zeh letter arranging shipping after April 30 / Zeh letter on shipping Fort Stanwix tree on May 3

A memo and an airbill dated June 7, 1976, shows sycamore seedlings were sent by air freight from the Southern Forest Experiment Station in Gulfport to the N.Y. State Department of Environmental Conservation in Albany. The seedlings were shipped on Allegany Airlines to Albany Airport. It is not clear if the Fort Stanwix seedling was one of these or was shipped separately earlier, as the April 14 letter said it would be shipped on May 3.

[Airbill, 7 June 1976] [Air Freight Memo, 7 June 1976]
Airbill showing seedlings delivered to New York / Memo on air freighting of seedlings

The April 14 letter is the last information we have on Fort Stanwix / Rome tree, there is no further news or documentation on the planting or disposition of the seedling.

Letters and information courtesy of Kendall Nagi and the New York State Archive.

History of the Sycamore Moon Trees

Moon Tree Home Page

Dr. David R. Williams,
NSSDCA, Mail Code 690.1
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771

NASA Official: Dave Williams,
Last Updated: 27 October 2023, DRW