The clump of 33 trees on Adak Island in Alaska that forms ‘America’s smallest national forest’

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Pictured: The clump of 33 trees in Alaska that forms ‘America’s smallest national forest’

  • The forest is located on Adak Island, part of the volcanic Aleutian archipelago
  • The first trees on the spot were planted to cheer up Second World War troops 
  • Around 6,000 troops were stationed on the island to guard against the Japanese 

From a distance it looks like a big bush, but this is actually a clump of trees – and America’s smallest national forest, according to the locals.

‘Adak National Forest’ comprises just 33 trees and you’ll find it – if you are a particularly hardy traveller and don’t mind a bracing gust or two – on the remote Alaskan island of Adak, part of the volcanic Aleutian archipelago.

And when we say remote, we mean it – the Google Streetview car has not made it out there.

'Adak National Forest' comprises just 33 trees. Its origins can be traced back to WWII

‘Adak National Forest’ comprises just 33 trees. Its origins can be traced back to WWII 

A sign declaring that the clump of trees is a national forest first appeared in the 60s. This snap was taken by Instagrammer @sharktoothwelty

A sign declaring that the clump of trees is a national forest first appeared in the 60s. This snap was taken by Instagrammer @sharktoothwelty

The origins of the bizarre ‘forest’ can be traced back to the Second World War – and the National Forest declaration began as joke, but the title has stuck (though it’s not officially recognised).

The first trees at this location were planted on the orders of Brigadier General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr, who wanted to cheer up his contingent of around 6,000 troops.

They were guarding the Alaskan islands against the Japanese and their morale was taking a battering in the brutal conditions – think wind, mud, rain, fog and freezing temperatures.

It was decided that some Christmas trees, in particular, would boost spirits, so in 1943 a formal programme of festive pine tree planting began and continued through to 1945, according to Atlas Obscura. 

Adak National Forest can be found on Adak, part of the volcanic Aleutian archipelago

Adak National Forest can be found on Adak, part of the volcanic Aleutian archipelago

The first trees at this location were planted one Christmas on the orders of Brigadier General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr, who wanted to cheer up his contingent of around 6,000 troops

The first trees at this location were planted one Christmas on the orders of Brigadier General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr, who wanted to cheer up his contingent of around 6,000 troops 

The locals, in a nod to the forest's origins, still decorate it with Christmas lights

The locals, in a nod to the forest’s origins, still decorate it with Christmas lights 

However, the harsh environment meant many of the trees were unable to survive.

By the time the 60s arrived the forest had a population of one tree, apparently, prompting some soldiers to erect a sarcastic sign saying ‘You are entering and leaving Adak National Forest’.

Fifty years on and there is still a sign indicating ‘National Forest’ status and the tree population has clearly grown, though it’s not known whether that’s through human intervention or not.

Adak Island, pictured, is remote - the Google Streetview car has not made it out there

Adak Island, pictured, is remote – the Google Streetview car has not made it out there

The locals, in a nod to the forest’s origins, still decorate it with Christmas lights.

The largest national forest in the U.S is the Tongass National Forest, which is also in Alaska. It covers 17million acres and harbours the remnants of vast glaciers that once dominated the landscape.

The largest U.S national forest outside Alaska is the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest that covers both Nevada and California.

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