McConnells Mill Update   Anthony Kelly
  May 23, 2006 22:43 PDT 


Thanks for the info about those areas. I'm kind of in the mood to go
tromping around in some of those really wild and remote areas even if the
big tree finds turn out to be minimal. I've been hankering to get out of
McConnells Mill and into a really big area. McConnells Mill is wonderful,
but is somewhat of an oasis being surrounded by flat boring farmland.

I've been able to explore a few more areas these past two weeks, including
the flood plain where I found the 137.5 sycamore and the 142' Tulip.
(Remember that I first measured them from high up on the other side of the
river). I was hoping to find more giants, but didn't. I doubt that the
area is old growth. It's probably just a good growing area. There was a
nice silver maple with about 3 or 4 huge trunks coming out of the ground and
over the river. It's not very tall, though.

Back at Walnut flats, I was able to measure another one of the elms I found
with Carl. I think now that they are almost surely slippery elms. Because
of the thick undergrowth I had to estimate where the bottom of the tree was
with the clinometer, so I probably didn't get the most accurate reading
possible. I got 126.3' and 9'0"CBH. I will only put the height accuracy at
+/- 2ft at this point. Next time I'll attach a white ribbon around the
trunk at some height above the surrounding brush so I can get an accurate

I was upset to see that the 121.7' sugar maple lost about 1/2 of its crown.
A huge branch of the top section came down recently.   There goes the Rucker
Index, I thought. I remeasured it carefully and got 122.7', so it must not
have been the highest part that came down. It appears to have put up some
nice sized twigs this spring.

I found two more lower 140's poplars (that makes about 8 or 9 now) and a
120.9ft beech. That's about it.

As far as the Rucker goes, with the new elm and the extra 1ft for the sugar
maple, it now stands at 130.62. This assumes that the elm measurement was
relatively accurate.

Here's the list:

As of 5/13/2006
Slippery Rock Creek Gorge Rucker Index:

Tulip Poplar             10'9"        146.0'
(?) Ash                     6'7"         137.7'
Sycamore             n/a          137.5'
Bitternut(?) Hickory        5'10"        132.7'
Cucumbertree             10'2"        130.3'
Am Basswood             6'5"         127.1'
S. Elm                      9'0"         126.3'
N. Red Oak                  9'7"         123.1'
E. Hemlock     n/a          122.8'
Sugar Maple             8'8"         122.7'

Rucker Index = 130.62

I think it is getting to the point where it is going to flatten out, unless
I stumble on another walnut flats type of area with a bunch of taller trees.
I kinda think this isn't going to happen. I'm still hoping for a taller
Red Oak. I found one on Walnut Flats on my way out last time, but didn't
have time to measure it. I haven't seen very many hemlocks that I thing
will top the one you found, but I think there is still some hope there.

I'm also hoping that some of the other 135+ ashes that I found will turn out
to be a different species that the one on the list, which I now think might
be a black ash and not a white one like I'd first thought. The leaves on
them were not far enough out for me to tell. Hopefully, they will be next
time. Another 135+ft tree would be a good boost for the Rucker, probably
the last big one we'll see, though. I am confidient that it will eventually
pass 131 and hope that it will break 132, but I doubt it will go higher than
that barring some extraordinary find in a new area.

I was hoping to put all of this together for a post to the ENTS list, but
I'd like to wait till I get some surer measurements of the elm and a few
other trees that I only have rough straight up shots of. Maybe next week.

There's some really bad news for the park in general. A mining company has
started work strip mining right up to the park property and the gorge's rim.
It will go about 1/2 mile or more down along the rim from the Rim Road
climing area clear down to Eckert Bridge. An entire waterfall will be lost.
Who knows what kind of damage will result, but the EPA, nevertheless,
approved the whole thing.

The land that borders right on the big woods old-growth area is also for
sale I noticed. If I could afford it, I would jump at the chance to buy it.
Not possible, though.   I just hope that the strip miners don't get ahold of
it. It would spell the end of the buffer for that area. What type of
damage the loss of water drainage to the trees in the big woods would cause
I shutter to think about.


I'm thinking we'd better get those trees on the map and fast. I think that
keeping them a secret is probably no longer the best option.

Looking forward to the 7th.

RE: mcconnells Mill Update
   May 24, 2006 10:41 PDT 


Super!!! McConnells Mill breaks the 130 RI mark! That's the 3rd 130 RI site
for PA, and a solid 5th place in the RI standings for the Northeast.

If your ~126ft slippery elm measurement stands, it could be the next tallest
known for the northeast! The tallest we have right now is a 6.7ft CBH x
124.6ft specimen located in the Walnut Creek Gorge in Erie County, PA.

Definitely looking forward to getting out of the office on 6/7!


RE: mcconnells Mill Update    Anthony Kelly
   May 24, 2006 11:34 PDT 

Bob, ENTS,

Oops. My last post was intended to be just a quick update to Dale. I
didn't realize that it was the ENTS address in the "to:" window. No big

I started to write up an ENTS post last week, but thought I'd wait until I
had a chance to go back to McConnells Mill and get some more accurate
measurements of a lot of trees that I've recently found. There are also a
few questions as to the species of certain trees, some ashes and hickories
in particular, that need to be cleared up. I'm still waiting for leaves on
a few trees.

Most of my recent trips to the park and the Slippery Rock Creek Gorge,
including one with Carl Harting a couple weeks ago, have been broad-sweep
exploratory trips to new areas. I did careful double sine measurements of
only the biggest trees and made just quick straight-up laser shot
measurements of a lot of others. (The measurements of the trees in the
Rucker Index are all double sines.) When I get back to certain trees and
get proper double sine measurements and good identifications, I'll make
another more thorough post.

Anthony Kelly