A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Tree disease claims Albany landmark elm

Written July 30th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Dead leaves mark the top of the Camperdown elm on Tuesday afternoon.

One of Albany’s “heritage trees,” an odd little elm in front of the Christian Science Reading Room at Seventh and Calapooia, has come down with an incurable disease and will have to come down, period.

Rick Barnett of the city parks department sent out a notice of the situation Tuesday. “Really unfortunate but unavoidable,” he wrote.

The tree is a Camperdown elm. Gary Schmidt, board chairman of the Christian Science Church, said church members and others had noticed the top of the tree dying a few weeks ago.  They called in Buena Vista Arbor Care, who sent someone to take samples and have them tested at Oregon State University.

On Tuesday the verdict came back: Dutch elm disease.

“There is no cure, and if left it can spread the disease,” Barnett said in his email alert. “It will be removed tomorrow.” 

Camperdown elms are a variety first discovered about 1840 at the estate of the Earl of Camperdown near Dundee in Scotland. (You can learn the details and more from Wikipedia, where I got this.) They have highly contorted branches, and the Albany tree certainly lives up to that characteristic.

Schmidt, of the church, doesn’t know how old this tree is. But the church has pictures from the 1950s or ’60s showing it to be only about 10 feet tall. Now it’s maybe twice that height.

Judging by a plaque set in the ground underneath the canopy, the Albany Tree Commission recognized the elm as a “heritage tree” in 2001.

This elm has been a landmark at this corner for some time. Too bad it’s dying and has to come down, but it can’t be helped. (hh)


On the ground under the tree, a plaque marking it as special.


Looking up into the mess of massive, contorted branches.

Posted in: Commentary, News

6 responses to “Tree disease claims Albany landmark elm”

  1. Kim Sass says:

    The same thing is happening to the Camperdown Elm at 806 Fifth SW. It was about 40 years old when it was planted on Fifth Avenue by Bill Marshall (in 1991) for the homeowners’ fifth wedding anniversary. Bill tended the Christian Science tree for many years as well. He is now a landscape designer with Stutzman’s as well as a local artist. This is too sad…

  2. pril Schmidt says:

    That dear elm tree provided many years of shade for the Christian Science Reading Room as well as shelter for passers-by who often paused beneath its canopy to rest on a hot day. Just a few weeks ago a mom and her young daughter were caught in a downpour and ran to the elm for shelter. They waited out the storm under the elm and stayed as dry as if they had been indoors.
    All things material are temporal and will pass in time, but the spiritual idea they represent is eternal and ever available to all of us as children of our Divine Creator. We are grateful for the camperdown elm and its years of standing outside our reading room. We are even more grateful for the divine idea it represented and remains to bless the reading room and all of Albany.

  3. Barbara Branson says:

    Watched them taking down that wonderful tree. It hurt my heart.


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