Our Inspiration

Puyallup's "Carson Chestnut Tree"

Sometime before 1861, Oregon Trail emigrant John Carson planted this Spanish chestnut, Castanea sativa, on his donation land claim. The tree is the last surviving remnant of Carson’s fruit orchard, and it is likely that he planted it for its traditional “roasting on an open fire” chestnuts. Local historians believe Mr. Carson brought the tree west as a mere sapling, tucked into a corner of his covered wagon.


In 1972, the tree narrowly escaped becoming cordwood when the Washington State Department of Transportation planned to build a new freeway on-ramp directly over the site at which the tree had flourished. Local residents rallied with such tremendous and unexpected support for the tree that the WSDOT agreed to preserve it by rerouting freeway access.


Today, the tree has a broad, spreading crown, a healthy canopy of leaves, and bears Chestnuts every year. The trunk has grown thick with age, and proudly shows scars from the original pruning and a direct lightning strike. The tree is now a hearty symbol of strength, and is included in the Register of Historic Trees and Plants of British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. The ‘Carson Chestnut tree’ is located just off Meridian Street North, at the Puyallup River Bridge, between the State Route 167 on-ramp and off-ramp. There is no pedestrian access, but the tree is clearly visible from the road.