Monday, February 19, 2007


“With the old pine above her,
And the loyal ones who love her.”

One of the deepest rooted of Dartmouth symbols is the Old (or Lone) Pine. It exists on the Dartmouth flag and college insignia … towering above a silhouetted depiction of Eliazer Wheelock, sitting on a barrel of rum, teaching to (or preaching to), one assumes, Samson Occum.
Rather than relate the history of the Old Pine myself, I quote from the Alumni Relations website (The Old Pine) talking about the Hill Winds Society, a student effort to keep alive Dartmouth College traditions by giving docented tours of the campus (see also the February, 2007 issue of “DartmouthLife”):

Mike Amico [of the Hill Winds Society] made a surprising discovery while researching the story of the Old Pine, perhaps the oldest in Dartmouth lore. One of the few pines not felled in 1769, when the College founders razed the woods in the area to build Dartmouth Hall, the Old Pine long stood the test of time on the rocky hill now named Observatory Hill. Eventually, after a lightning strike and other storm damage, the tree weakened, and in 1895 it was cut to a stump. In 1967, with the stump decomposed, the Class of 1927 decided to plant a New Pine nearby, in the Bema. Amico discovered that his own class, the Class of 2007, is to inherit the stewardship of the tree. When it planted the New Pine, the Class of 1927 placed its care in the hands of the Class of 1967, who promised to pass it on in another forty years to the Class of 2007.

The Hill Winds traditions tour begins at Robinson Hall, progresses down North Main Street to Webster Avenue, turns toward Baker Library, heads up Observatory Hill, and winds back down to Dartmouth Hall and the Green.

To arrange a tour by the Hill Winds Society contact Abby Drevs in the Office of Alumni Relations. You can call her at 603/646-2337 or send an e-mail to her at:

You can see a picture from a postcard of the stump of the Old Pine ... found at the “Dartmouth Review” website: (Dartmouth Review)

According to Peter Carini of the college, the Old Pine was a white pine (as are its replacements). For those who don’t know about white pines, they are the stateliest of pines. They can live for more than 200 years and grow 100 feet high or higher. They generally retain their limbs only for about the top half of their height. See Eastern White Pine

Unfortunately, white pines are susceptible to blister rust and, until control measures were taken, was the cause of the loss of many of these beauties. The primary control measure was (and is) to outlaw the cultivation of gooseberries and currents which are a vector for blister rust. Today, you cannot cultivate these berries in some eastern states. (I know something about white pines as I once had huge beauty growing in my Massachuttes back yard.)

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