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City of Milwaukie Dogwoods

Dogwood City


'A Tree's Legacy'

The name 'Dogwood City of the West' is familiar to Milwaukie residents. Evidence of the tree's importance to the city can be seen all over Milwaukie, with dogwood flowers adorning the City flag and appearing in residents' mailboxes regularly with The Milwaukie Pilot. 

So when did the dogwood become important to Milwaukie, and why? To get to the "roots" of this issue, we'll have to go back and take a look at the tree's history. 

Once upon a time, there was a huge dogwood tree. In fact, at the time it was the largest and oldest dogwood tree in the U.S. It measured 65 feet high and had a spread of 50 feet, dwarfing the home of then Milwaukie resident Henry A. Niedermeyer. The enormity and beauty of the tree drew visitors from all over the country, including Eleanor Roosevelt and a photographer for National Geographic Magazine. In fact, a postcard of the tree was sold during the sixties and can still be found at the Milwaukie Historical Society. 

By 1952, the City of Milwaukie had adopted the name 'Dogwood City of the West' in honor of this unusual tree. Soon after, the tree was awarded a plaque by the Daughters of the American Revolution, Oregon City Chapter, which was placed on the grounds beneath it. 

Ten years later, the tree met with a surprising twist of fate. A Columbus Day Storm broke away one of the dogwood's large limbs, and it began to deteriorate. Because nothing could be done to save the tree, the City later decided to name another dogwood in the area as official city tree, carrying on the legacy of the mighty original dogwood. 

Now the dogwood tree is central to the City's Centennial, as a citywide tree-planting effort gets under way and the familiar flower takes its place in the center of the Centennial's logo. A task force has come together to achieve a goal of planting 100 trees throughout the city of Milwaukie during the Centennial year. This project will result in the beautification of the city, as well as remind residents and visitors of the dogwood's importance in the community. And did you know that trees help keep the air clean too? To become involved in the Centennial tree planting, contact Kathy Buss at 503-786-5148. 

To learn more about the City's dogwood, visit the Milwaukie Museum at 3737 SE Adams St. The museum is open on Saturdays and by appointment (503) 659-5780. To really delve into Milwaukie's past plan to spend a few hours there. 

 - Rachel Simon 

Last updated: 06/11/03

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