Chestnut trees planted next to Blacksmith Shop Museum

    DOVER-FOXCROFT — “Under the spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands.”
    These are the opening lines of the well-known poem “The Village Blacksmith” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, published in 1840.

lo-chesnuttree-dcX-po-31Photo courtesy of Mary Annis/Dover-Foxcroft Historical Society

    PLANTING FOR THE FUTURE — Glen Rea of the American Chestnut Tree Foundation, left, and Blacksmith Shop Museum Curator David Lockwood plant four chestnut trees by the museum in Dover-Foxcroft. The property is the northern most planting site in the state.

    Four young American chestnut trees have been planted at the Blacksmith Shop Museum on Dawes Road.  Although the trees are not yet large enough to stand under, looking toward the future, a smithy will have a place to stand. Glen Rea, from the American Chestnut Tree Foundation came to the museum and, with the help of curator David Lockwood, planted the trees. These trees have the distinction of being planted the farthest north in the state of Maine and the hope is they will flourish here.
    In 1900 there were over four billion American Chestnuts from Maine to Alabama.  Shortly after, a fungus known as the chestnut blight, was introduced to America, probably on Japanese and Chinese chestnut trees.  This blight killed most of the American Chestnuts.
    Since 1983 the American Chestnut Foundation has been working to restore the trees. The foundation has crossed the American chestnut with the Chinese chestnut through six generations to produce trees with all the characteristics of the American chestnut but with resistance to the blight. The Maine chapter is currently growing fifth generation hybrids.
    The trees grow to a maximum of 100 feet and can attain a diameter of 14 feet. They bloom white flowers in July and in the fall produce prickly round burs which contain three edible chestnut-colored seeds. These nuts are sweet, highly nutritious and gluten-free. They are a source of food not only for humans, but for deer, bears, turkey and squirrels too.
    A limited amount of trees are currently available to the public. For further information go to or contact or call Rea at 945-6945.

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