Some of the oldest trees in Michigan can be found at Hartwick Pines State Park. In 1927, Karen Michelson Hartwick purchased over 8,000 acres of land that included 85 acres of old growth white pine from the Salling-Hanson Company of Grayling. Mrs. Hartwick was a daughter of a founding partner of the logging company and shortly after the purchase, she donated the land to the State of Michigan as a memorial park named for her husband, the late Major Edward E. Hartwick of Grayling. A nice article from the Toledo Blade about Hartwick Pines explains:
This is Hartwick Pines, the largest stand of “old growth” forest in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Here, white pines, red pines and hemlocks ladder their way 160 feet to the sky.
…As the story goes, the Salling, Hanson Logging Co. was working in this area in 1893 when an economic downturn forced them to suspend operations. When business picked up again, it was likely more profitable to move to a larger section of forest in the area, so a grove of approximately 85 acres survived.
A terrible gale in 1940 known as the Armistice Day Storm brought hurricane force winds and leveled 37 acres of the old growth forest. The same storm also sank several freighters in Lake Michigan.
Just under 50 acres of old growth forest were left standing following that disastrous event. There are approximately 24,000 trees in the Hartwick Pines old growth grove today, but not all are “old growth” trees. Lightning and wind claim a few of the old trees each year, and they are replaced with a mixture of hardwoods and pines.
A large hemlock near the parking lot was recently damaged by a storm and had to be removed. Its stump showed 365 annual rings. The most famous tree at Hartwick Pines — The Monarch — lost its crown in a 1992 storm and then died four years later. It was 155 feet tall when healthy, with a circumference of 12 feet and an estimated age of 325 years.