Thursday, May 30, 2013

Giant Sequoia

Not the Levittown redwoods, but this is taken in Pennsylvania

I love a good urban legend. I was just recently informed that there are rumored redwood trees growing in Levittown. My best lead so far is that they are the Snowball Gate section right off rte 413. I drove through there over the holiday weekend, with my intrepid wife, and we swore we saw them. According to my source though, the exact location we reported them from is not where the sequoia are located. These are very elusive trees! Which you wouldn't think would be an adjective you'd use to describe a giant redwood. Part of the story that fuels the urban legend is that the owners of the properties which the trees inhabit do not want people to know that there are redwoods growing on the property. I have been able to hunt down several explanations as to why, the most plausible is that they do not want their yard to become a tourist attraction.

The back story to the legend maintains that the houses in Levittown were all built using redwood trees forested from the same area in northern California. As a gift to William Levitt upon the completion of Levittown, PA, the owners of the lumber company presented him with three Giant Sequoias and they were placed on what was originally one of the Levitt Estates sites. The site was eventually converted into more homes, but the sequoias remained.

Luckily, I live within walking distance of Snowball Gate. I am waiting for my dog to fully recover from his "procedure", and then we will be off to find visual evidence of the existence of these elusive Levittown redwoods. I have received what I believe to be a more exact location. The problem with smaller redwoods is that they look a heck of a lot like cedars. I have my suspicions that this may be origin of the legend. I may have to enlist the services of a botanist to determine the proper genus and species of the tree in question. This may also involve collecting physical specimens from the tree and not just photo evidence. From what I've been told, two of the three are located in back yards, which may make the specimen collecting tricky, perhaps illegal; particularly if the stories are true that the home owners are very shy about sharing their awesome flora. I'm willing to risk it. Science!