Forum Index > Pacific NW History > Who names trees Sylvia, anyways?
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hatchetation
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hatchetation
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PostFri Feb 26, 2021 2:43 pm 
In OO Denny park (a delightful patch of Seattle forestland which just happens to be located in Kirkland) there is a plaque honoring an old, large, fallen tree called Sylvia.

Quote:
Age: Over 600 years old
Circumference: 26.3 ft
Biggest tree in King County
Toppled January 20, 1993

At first, this sign stuck with me because of the extremely dubious "biggest in the county" claim. However, after several years of on-and-off researching, I've been able to find almost nothing about the history of this tree.

Why the name Syliva? Dunno, though probably Silvia being a forest god has something to do with it.
Who first noticed it? Dunno
Who named it? Dunno
Who measured it?
Who put the plaque up? Who replaced it several times over the years?

I was about to drop the whole thing when I stumbled across Bill Mueller at big tree holding a gun (PO.976.0079) in the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum Photograph Collection.

Looking closely, just left of him is a carved sign which appears to say "SILVIA [?something]". Ahhh-ha!

Is this a loggers thing? Was Silvia used as a nickname for large trees back in the day? The OO Denny Sylvia is on a ca 1970s map (preserved in the Sherwood History collection), along with a drawing of an old skid road when there was some selective logging in the area.

I like the theory that Silvia was an old generic nickname for big trees, and that occasionally the name stuck. Thoughts? All my other ideas are far worse than this one.

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tlake
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PostFri Feb 26, 2021 5:54 pm 
They made home ceiling insulation out of wood chips and called it Silva Fiber at the Snoqualmie Mill site.

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Pyrites
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PostFri Feb 26, 2021 6:54 pm 
A silvaculturist?

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Malachai Constant
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PostFri Feb 26, 2021 11:21 pm 
Silva is Latin for forest

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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lookout bob
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PostSat Feb 27, 2021 8:47 am 
I think we should change the name to Fred.... clown.gif

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"Altitude is its own reward"
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puzzlr
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PostWed Mar 03, 2021 12:44 am 
That 'biggest tree in King County' is bogus if that's literally what they mean. First of all, it's not standing. I know a stump that has a circumference of over 60'. But also quite a few standing healthy growing cedars that are over 11' in diameter (35' in circumference). Definitely in King County.

12' 6" diameter cedar
12' 6" diameter cedar

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hatchetation
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PostMon May 03, 2021 8:17 am 
I hear ya - absolutely not the largest. Even when that Sylvia was standing, nearly 3 decades ago, her coronation ignored several similar massive healthy stovepipes nearby.

Even if they meant tallest, it's still not accurate. As far as I know, the tallest tree in WA is actually off-peninsula near St. Helens. Even in King county, there are a few >300 ft Doug firs, and she wasn't one of em.

Best hypothetical superlative I can come up with would be, "Tallest metropolitan tree on the west coast".

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Forum Index > Pacific NW History > Who names trees Sylvia, anyways?
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