Scott Community Park - "Cuke Heaven"   Dale J. Luthringer
  Apr 12, 2004 14:48 PDT 

Bob, Tom, Bruce, Will

On March 19 I took a long awaited trip to try to confirm a small old
growth plot in Scott Community Park located in Erie, PA, Millcreek
Township, Erie County. This site is a very small relic old growth
forest along the southern shore Lake Erie escarpments. The area is
adjacent to Presque Isle State Park and encompasses both private and
township owned property.

The escarpment height is not very high in this area, maybe close to
60-80ft. Soils are very sandy here, possibly 30% or more is sand with a
direct northerly exposure. The site actually starts east and almost
adjacent to the main road that goes into Presque Isle State Park
(Sterretania Rd.) and is sandwiched in between the ridge area between
the Sarah Coyne Campground and the soon to be erected new Presque Isle
Center. It continues east from this point at least 0.53 miles to the
eastern border of Scott Community Park encompassing a rough total area
of about 9.6acres. The massive crowns of some of the ancient trees that
are located here can actually be viewed from a parking area across
Presque Isle Bay in Presque Isle State Park.

I've driven past this site many times since I was a child, but never
took the opportunity to visit this area on foot until last month. I was
able to get a brief glimpse from my vehicle from an apartment complex
just south of this site during February. Since I previously broke my
ankle in November, I was unable to get a closer look at the impressive
Am. beech crowns until mid-March.

There is an impressive array of large N. red oaks, Am. beech, and HUGE
cucumbertrees here (at least to my Pennsylvania forest accustomed eyes).
I've never seen so many large and old cucumbertrees in one spot before
in Pennsylvania. The oldest cucumbertrees in this here should easily
surpass 200 years old. I have hopes that 300 years is quite possible.
A few select large N. red oak and tuliptrees will likely break 150
years. There are a few scattered hemlock that should go over 200 years,
as well as a number of large Am. beech. and yes Bob, we even got a
cottonwood for you that will go into the 12x100 Club.

There are two very impressive cucumbertrees about 200 yards in from
Sterretania Rd and only about 25ft apart. These are probably the oldest
cukes in the stand. Both are almost identical in girth and height.
Both trees have balding bark at least 6-10ft up the tree. The bark then
turns into a deeply ridged characteristic almost the entire length of
the each trunk which are limbless until about 65ft up. Both trunks are
burled with an incredibly gnarled crown. I'm hoping these are the cukes
that might make it to 300 year range. Maybe we ought to call these
trees the Presque Isle Sentinels? They really are near the gateway to
the park. Both resemble the monster cuke in the Forest Cathedral N.A.
at Cook Forest State Park that reaches 11.6ft CBH x 111.2ft high.

One cucumbertree was so large that I thought it should at least be
nominated in the new PA Big Trees publishing that should go out within
the next year. I first observed this tree from the top of the
escarpment and thought it was nice. CBH should go at least 10ft, maybe
11ft I thought. Well, needless to say, my CBH scale still needs a bit
of work, especially when the tree almost reaches 15ft CBH! At 14.9ft
CBH x 54.2ft avg crown x 112.9ft high, it is the largest single stem
forest grown cucumbertree I've ever observed. Until this point, the fat
cucumber along the south bank of the Clarion River in Cook Forest was my
personal largest at 13ft CBH x 110.2ft high. The Scott Community Park
cuke just goes over 300 big tree points to 305.3. There are larger
circumference specimens in field settings, but I think we'd be hard
pressed to find larger forest grown specimens in the state. Currently,
the tree is listed at #3 in the state, but the other trees have not been
re-measured in awhile:

Chester County cucumbertree - 329 points in 1999
Bucks County cucumbertree   - 309 points in 1992

Tom, Bruce - what are some of the max dimensions you guys have come
across for Magnolia acuminata in NY and OH?

Even though this site is small and packed in between two campgrounds, I
still think it holds a wealth of information that would take Erie County
back into pre-settlement days during the time of the once flourishing
Eriez Indians. I wonder if certain folks actually know what they're
sitting on here? It is a small exceptional area directly adjacent to
the city of Erie that millions of people drive by every year. maybe it's
just better left that way.

Here's a rough visual estimate of the ages of some of the older tree

Species            Est. Age

Am. beech        225
Black cherry      175
Cucumbertree    250+
E. hemlock        225
N. red oak         150
Sugar maple      150
Tuliptree            150

Many CBH measurements were unrecorded due to their inaccessibility or
that I was often shooting trees at the bottom of the escarpment.
3/19/04 and 4/9/04 data are combined as follows:

Species            CBH     Height   Comments

Am. beech        N/A       83.7
Am. beech        N/A       86.2
Am. beech        N/A       92.6
Am. beech        N/A       101.8
Am. beech        9.5        102.7

Black cherry      7          84
Black cherry      9.4        103.7
Black cherry      8.1        105.1+
Black cherry      N/A       107.9    
Black cherry      N/A       111.7    

Cottonwood       11.2      103.9
Cottonwood       12.2      112.8    new 12x100 club

Cucumbertree    N/A       96.1
Cucumbertree    N/A       99.1
Cucumbertree    N/A       99.6
Cucumbertree    9.8        100.2
Cucumbertree    9.4        103.6
Cucumbertree    10.9      103.6    ancient cuke, west tree (25ft fm
"east tree")
Cucumbertree    6.8        105.1+
Cucumbertree    10.9      106.6    ancient cuke, east tree
Cucumbertree    13.1      104.7    new 12x100 club (42 6.813N x
Cucumbertree    9.7        108.1+
Cucumbertree    10.7      108.1+
Cucumbertree    11.5      108.6
Cucumbertree    14.1      108.6+ new 12x100 club (42 6.843N x 80
Cucumbertree    14.9      112.9    3rd largest in the PA?

E. hemlock        N/A       72.2
E. hemlock        N/A       73.6
E. hemlock        N/A       78.9
E. hemlock        N/A       81.3
E. hemlock        N/A       83.5
E. hemlock        N/A       87.6
E. hemlock        N/A       93.6
E. hemlock        8.4        96.9
E. hemlock        N/A       97.4

N. red oak         11+       81.3
N. red oak         N/A       85.7
N. red oak         N/A       92.3
N. red oak         14.7      94.4+    along Presque Isle Bay (gorgeous
N. red oak         14         99.1+    will probably break 100ft,
adjacent to campground at bottom of escarpment
N. red oak         13.8      102.7    new 12x100 club (42 6.761N x 80
N. red oak         9.9        116.7

Sugar maple      N/A       91.8
Sugar maple      N/A       116.5

Tuliptree            10.3      93.1+
Tuliptree            N/A       113.4
Tuliptree            N/A       116
Tuliptree            11.4      116.6
Tuliptree            9.7        117.6
Tuliptree            8.6        118.8
Tuliptree            10.6      122

White ash         N/A       100.7
White ash         7.2        105.1+

White oak         11.6      97.8

Yellow birch       N/A       62.6
Yellow birch       5.6        81.5

Scott Community Park Rucker Index

Species            CBH     Height   RI

Tuliptree            10.6      122       107.93
N. red oak         9.9        116.7
Sugar maple      N/A       116.5
Cucumbertree    14.9      112.9
Cottonwood       12.2      112.8
Black cherry      N/A       111.7
White ash         7.2        105.1
Am. beech        9.5        102.7
E. hemlock        N/A       97.4
Yellow birch       5.6        81.5

What the trees lack in height, they make up for in girth. That's 5 more
trees for the 12x100 club, possibly even 7 after finding a clear view to
the top. There is another oak species in here, but I am unclear of its
ID at the moment. Looks like I'll have to wait for leaf-out. We may
get a RI of 110 out of this site, but I don't see much higher than that.

Oh yes, remember to bring your tic repellant if you come here. All of
the Lake Erie Escarpment sites I've visited so far abound with these
free-loaders. one managed to find the prize on the 'Jack Russell',
didn't have time to engorge though. I must have picked off a couple
dozen between the both of us.