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Elm Tree #1: Smithsonian NMNH GeoTour

A cache by Smithsonian NMNH Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 4/2/2013
In District of Columbia, United States
2 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size: small (small)

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Geocache Description:


Natural History logo

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History GeoTour will be discontinued at a date to be determined in the first quarter of 2018. The NMNH GeoTour was launched April 2, 2013; and we’ve appreciated the support and positive feedback on the NMNH GeoTour from the Geocaching community. We have enjoyed reading your logs. We hope; and I believe we did, through the cache pages and puzzles, provided a different look into the National Museum of Natural History. We wish it could continue but that will not be possible. We wanted to let you know, at this time, so that if you wish to do the tour it should not be put off. As of 4/20/2017 there remain 125 coins to be awarded for completing the tour.

The National Museum of Natural History GeoTour, launched on April 2, 2013, consists of nine caches in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Caches need not be accomplished in any particular order; each can be treated and logged as a stand-alone cache. Geocachers must download passport, in which the code word(s) from each cache must be recorded. Each cache will take a greater time commitment than most caches due to the nature of the puzzles being a combination of web research and field puzzles. Some caches are in high traffic area and will be extremely difficult to retrieve without drawing attention. Be prepared to explain what you are doing to lots of passersby. If you intend to do all the caches in one time, it will serve you well to read each cache page and determine the various locations that information for each of the final cache locations must be gathered. Information may have to be gathered from the web (cache-specific sites are listed on the appropriate cache page), in the museum, on the individual cache pages, and in state parks or forests. Each of the nine caches will feature a department but it will be seen that in nature, the subjects of these caches are not so easily pigeon-holed. This cache features the Smithsonian Gardens.

You are now standing at the oldest and one of the most majestic trees on all of the Smithsonian grounds. This is an American elm and is cataloged as tree #1 in the Smithsonian Tree Collection, a living museum collection of nearly 2,000 accessioned trees.

The American elm (Ulmus americana) is native throughout eastern North America, ranging from Cape Breton Island west into southwestern Saskatchewan, southward to central Texas, and east to south-central Florida. It grows in many different environments and forest types, but is most often associated with bottom lands, waterways, and swamp margins. As a young tree, the American elm grows rapidly and is quite shade tolerant. Elms typically reach 100 feet at maturity though some grow even taller.

Elm trees are adaptable to almost any climate and soil, wet or dry, in sun or partial shade, and are very easy to transplant at almost any size. For these reasons, in addition to the fact that these trees typically have a beautiful, arching vase-like silhouette, the elm was considered a very valuable street, park and lawn tree, and they were planted extensively throughout the United States in the 1700’s and 1800’s. Two states, Massachusetts and North Dakota, have chosen the American Elm as their state tree.

In the early 1870’s, Alexander Robey “Boss” Shepherd, the second and last Governor of the District of Columbia, implemented a three-year public works program to rebuild the city’s infrastructure which included the planting of thousands of elm trees. Based on the earliest plans for the National Mall, the elm tree was the unifying element linking parks, avenues, and monument grounds. Unfortunately, around 1930, the devastating disease known as Dutch Elm Disease (DED) was introduced from overseas. This disease, caused by a fungus and introduced to elm trees by both native and European bark beetles, had a devastating effect on the elms, killing millions of them throughout the U.S.

Today, great elms like this tree you’re standing at still persist, either through natural resistance to the disease, proactive maintenance and disease control programs, or a combination of both. At the Smithsonian, elms like this one are periodically treated to help prevent the onset of DED. Constant monitoring and management are required to maintain their health.

Elm tree # 1 is estimated to be around 200 years old, far pre-dating the building of the National Museum of Natural History. It is 68 inches in diameter, has a circumference of 17.75 feet, and is approximately 80 feet tall.

The horticulturists at the Smithsonian are responsible for the care and maintenance of the Smithsonian gardens and trees. This includes identifying and taking care of trees that are either sick or old and when necessary making the decision to have a tree removed when it presents a hazard to public safety. In 2012 the elm which stood just to the west of tree #1 was showing signs of weakness. Radar was employed to evaluate the health of the tree. Based on that study the tree was determined to be viable for the foreseeable time. However, late on June 29, 2012 the devastating Derecho wind passed across the area. Tree #1 suffered very little damage but its weaker neighbor suffered sufficient stress that soon after the storm the horticulturists determined that the tree was no longer safe and had it removed. A young tree has been planted in its place.

Critical requirements and rules for the award of the geocoin are here NMNH GeoTour Passport.

1) The Original 9 caches of the NMNH GeoTour must be completed.

2) Two (2) photographs are required. Posted with your found log. (This is not an ALR as you may log a find on these two caches without posting a picture. It is a requirement to be awarded a geocoin. In other words – no photos no coin but your found log will stand).
a. Photo of an adult at GC3RRWA "CINMAR" with the log book clearly next to the face. Do not expose the code word in the photo.
b. Photo of an adult at GC3T24J “Leave it to Beaver” with the log book clearly next to the face. Do not expose the code word in the photo.

3) A completed Passport with the required code words sent to the address listed on the Passport.

4) One (1) coin per household or mailing address. If there are multiple geocachers in a household who have completed the tour, only one (1) coin will be awarded to that address.

5) The passports that have been received prior to January 1, 2016 will be awarded one coin without having to meet item 1 above, and these rules were not in effect for the NMNH GeoTour at that time.

6) January 1 will be the date of publication of these requirements to earn the geocoin.


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3,620 Logged Visits

Found it 3,419     Didn't find it 57     Write note 135     Temporarily Disable Listing 2     Enable Listing 2     Publish Listing 1     Needs Maintenance 1     Owner Maintenance 3     

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Current Time:
Last Updated: on 10/17/2017 6:30:31 AM Pacific Daylight Time (1:30 PM GMT)
Rendered From:Unknown
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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