Mid - Island Mail
January 22, 1941
Park Idea To Save Great Pines of Middle Island ---Grove Spreads
There are prospects in the future of a much larger area of white pine in Middle Island than the 20-odd acres now comprising Cathedral Pines on the George Prosser property on the Yaphank-Middle Island road.
The prediction of a greatly expanded white pine area, unless a fire should occur there, is that made by George Prosser, present owner of the beautiful grove, which has been in the Prosser family for the past 52 years.
In a report, which touches on the history of Cathedral Pines, he said, “According to a map made by the late Richard M. Bayles, Zachariah Hawkins sold to James Dayton in the year 1797 some farm land including where the pine grove (Cathedral Pines) is situated. William Dayton, son of James Dayton planted a few trees of white pine when about 18 years old. Upon the death of James Dayton, William Dayton and his brother, James became owners of about 240 acres.
“At their deaths, they willed the farm to John R. Dayton, a nephew, who sold it to Thomas Prosser in 1889. The grove at that time was a mixture of mostly pine, oak, and chestnut. The oak was cut, stumps sprouted and finally died. The chestnut died naturally, so that eventually it has become a grove of pine.
According to the cones from the trees this year on the ground, there was a big crop of seed in 1940. The former Bartlett property to the south of this grove is becoming thickly seeded to pine from this grove and if no fire gets into it, there will some day be a large grove of white pine on that land.”
Mr. Prosser suggested that the Brookhaven Town Planning board should consider the prospects of expansion, saying, “Eventually, we may have in Middle Island a forest of white pine of 100 acres or more.”
When the latter suggestion was brought to the attention of Town Planning Consultant John M. Muddeman, he said that in the preparation of a master plan for the town, the Prosser grove will be taken into consideration among the potential park areas. Incidentally, it was suggested by the Long Island association last fall that Cathedral Pines should be considered for public parklands.
It was recently reported that in looking over the Prosser grove, some of the trees in which are said to be 90 feet tall, a state ranger estimated that each of the larger trees, if milled, would produce 2,000 board feet of lumber. A board foot is a piece one foot square and one inch thick, or its equivalent.
Mr. Prosser took exception to this report but did not supply a lumber estimate.
The height statement, he says, checks with the measurement he made of one of the giants which came down in the hurricane. It lay about 90 feet from base to tip. That includes, of course, a long top portion too small to be lumber use.
This newspaper inquired of S. Dennis Maud, tree surgeon, of Blue Point, about tree sizes, and Mr. Maud, after visiting the grove yesterday, confirmed the estimate of 2,000 feet to a tree in some instances.
In fact some of the big fellows, he said, would probably produce more good lumber then that. For instance, there are trees in the grove of three-foot diameter from which three market logs could be cut, each 13 feet long. One of them would produce 2,340 board feet, squared. That leaves out of calculation the knotted or otherwise inferior portions.
By mass measure, Mr. Maud said, such a tree would produce 3,276 board feet of lumber.
Mr. Maud estimated the height of the big trees at 75 feet, on the average, with some of them reaching the 90 mark.