The discovery of a mature American chestnut tree on a bank of the Kennebec River near the Pownalborough Court House in Dresden offers hope for a revival of the species. Because there are no neighboring trees from which to pollinate, this lone tree has never had burrs, which hold seeds. At 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 16, Tom Klak, of the American Chestnut Foundation of Maine, will plant three hybrid seedlings to encourage pollination of the courthouse specimen.
Once one of the most common trees in the northeastern United States, the American chestnut was important for its hardwood and was considered the finest chestnut tree in the world. It is estimated that from three billion to four billion American chestnut trees were destroyed in the first half of the 20th century by blight after its initial discovery in 1904.
The seedlings to be planted on the Pownalborough Court House grounds are resistant to chestnut blight, an airborne bark fungus that spread 50 miles per year from the time it was first introduced.
The public is invited to witness the planting and learn more about the attempt to revive this important species. The courthouse will be open for tours and there are fine hiking trails nearby.
The Pownalborough Court House is maintained by the Lincoln County Historical Association. It is located at 23 Courthouse Road, Dresden. For directions, go to lincolncountyhistory.org.
The Lincoln County Historical Association is a nonprofit organization that provides stewardship for the 1754 Chapman-Hall House in Damariscotta, the 1761 Pownalborough Court House in Dresden, and the 1811 Old Jail and Museum in Wiscasset. For more information, go to lincolncountyhistory.org or Facebook at “Lincoln County Historical Association (Maine).”