Balmville Tree

Balmville, Newburgh, New York, USA


The Disappointed Tourist: Balmville Tree, Ellen Harvey, 2024. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 24 x 18″ (61 x 46 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

The Balmville Tree was the oldest known eastern cottonwood in the Eastern United States. Local legend had it that the tree grew when George Washington planted his walking stick while camped nearby during the Revolution but core sampled of the tree dated to 1699. It was located at the intersection of River Road, Balmville Road and Commonwealth Avenue in Balmville in Newburgh. The town was named after the tree which was was originally thought to be a Balm-of-Gilead tree. By the late 20th century its size had led to consideration of its removal as a potential traffic hazard but community efforts led to its listing on the National Register of Historic Places in in 2000. The state took ownership of the land, making it New York’s smallest state forest. However, the tree kept suffering structural problems, and it was finally cut down in 2015. Locals took cuttings of the tree. The photograph on which this painting is based appears to be a Record File Photo.

Balmville without its tree is not Balmville. Anon