Giant Copper Beech Tree Planted By Teddy Roosevelt Has Been Chopped Down

Sagamore Hill, the former home of Theodore Roosevelt and a current property of the U.S. National Park System, contains many of the game trophies the president hunted and collected during his lifetime. Until recently, it was also home to a living reminder of Roosevelt's love for nature: A giant copper beech tree he planted at the estate in the 1890s. As CBS New York reports, the tree has been chopped down after developing a fungal disease.

Located on Long Island, New York, Sagamore Hill was Roosevelt's home from 1885 until his death in 1919. He spent summers there with his family during his presidency, which earned it the nickname the "summer White House."

In 1894, Roosevelt planted a copper beech tree near the entrance of the Queen Anne-style home. It was a small reflection of his dedication to environmentalism: As president, he would set aside 200 million acres of land for national forests and wildlife refuges.

Today Sagamore Hill is a National Historic Site, and Roosevelt's tree had recently started posing a threat to visitors. Aged 125 years and diseased, the tree was approaching the end of its life, so site officials made the decision to take it apart branch by branch and remove it from the property.

The Theodore Roosevelt Association has plans to keep the memory of the tree alive at Sagamore Hill. The wood from the trunk will be saved and made into park benches that will be installed on the property. Some wood may be carved into replicas of the furniture at Sagamore Hill, which would then be auctioned off to raise funds for preservation projects.

Roosevelt's love of nature was just one aspect of the multifaceted president. He was also famous for his witty quotes—as evidenced by these savage insults.

[h/t CBS New York]

Did Teddy Roosevelt Really Say That?

Mental Floss has a new podcast with iHeartRadio called History Vs., about how your favorite historical figures faced off against their greatest foes. Our first season is all about President Theodore Roosevelt. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts here, and for more TR content, visit the History Vs. site.

How a Herd of Goats Helped Save the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum from California’s Wildfires

Oleg Elkov/iStock via Getty Images
Oleg Elkov/iStock via Getty Images

This past spring, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California, decided to prepare for the possibility of wildfires by clearing flammable brush around the perimeter. Instead of dousing it in herbicide or preemptively burning it away with controlled fire, they simply ushered in 500 very hungry goats.

According to Smithsonian.com, Vincent Van Goat, Selena Goatmez, and other aptly named ungulates are part of a service called 805 Goats, which offers a more cost-efficient and eco-friendly method of clearing land by which herds of goats eat every plant in sight.

Now surrounded by barren land, the institution watched several months pass without a fire—until last Wednesday, when library curator Randle Swan arrived on the premises and spotted California’s Easy Fire not too far off. He later told NBC Los Angeles that they had actually planned an emergency drill for that day.

CNN reports that although Simi Valley police mandated evacuations, some security workers, the library director, the facility manager, and the head curator all stayed on site to fortify artifacts against the approaching blaze. Along with records from Reagan’s political career, the library contains Nancy Reagan’s wedding ring, dresses, and many other personal belongings. The graves of both Reagans are also on the grounds.

Firefighting aircrafts and trucks steadily soaked the area with water in an attempt to stave off creeping flames.

"It's a pretty tough situation here, there's never been fires this close to the library," the library's executive director John Heubusch told KTLA. "It's a place of national treasure, and the flames are licking right up against it."

Both the parking lot and the heroic efforts of firefighters undoubtedly kept the wildfires from reaching the library and museum, but the goats’ earlier enterprise definitely didn’t go unacknowledged.

“One of the firefighters mentioned that they do believe the goats’ fire line helped them fight this fire,” library spokesperson Melissa Giller told CNN. “They just proved today how useful they really are.”

And they couldn’t have done it without their epic four-chambered stomachs—find out more about that and other awesome goat facts here.

[h/t Smithsonian]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER