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Parker’s Landing tulip tree accepted for heritage distinction

The Columbian
Published: March 30, 2024, 5:16am

WASHOUGAL – A local tulip tree has been selected to receive Clark County Heritage Tree status and joins a heritage apple grove, heritage cherry tree and heritage walnut tree at the Parker’s Landing Historical Park in Washougal. The Washington State University Extension Master Gardener Heritage Tree Program keeps a list of significant trees in unincorporated Clark County. Master Gardener Erika Johnson coordinates the Heritage Tree nominations.

The tree stands at Parker’s Landing Historical Park, location of the first permanent U.S. settlement in the present state of Washington, David C. Parker arrived with his family in 1844 while the British still held Fort Vancouver and claimed the land north of the Columbia River. He added a dock called Parker’s Landing, a ferry to Lady Island, and the town of Parkersville, platted by Parker on May 1, 1854, all significant “firsts” at this site that later grew into the towns of Washougal and Camas.

When Parker died in 1858, Lewis Van Vleet Sr. was Parker’s donation land claim and estate administrator. Van Vleet moved from his homestead in Fern Prairie to Parkersville. He doubled Parkersville size in 1878 and began holding grand events there. Newspaper articles note more than 1,000 people staying past midnight in 1879 and 1880. Steamships brought guests and fueled commerce.

The nominated tulip tree stands near the location of the historic Van Vleet home, which is now the Van Vleet Plaza. From that spot, there are views of the Columbia River, Port Marina and Mount Hood. The 107½-foot-tall tulip tree grows 2 to 3 feet annually and was probably planted in the 1950s.