W. B. Alwood
The First Arboretum at VPI - Planting the Alwood Oak
In a 1932 letter to Dean Harvey L. Price, Alwood stated that he planted many of the first trees on the VPI campus. He not only planted the trees, but he cataloged the trees and photographed them. The photographs were donated to the plant pathology and bacteriology department sometime after the letter was written.
In Templeton's history of the cadet life (Bugle Echos) between 1891 and 1894, more than a 1,000 additional trees were planted on the campus. Spruces and junipers were set out in front of the academic buildings, and maples were planted in rows to shade the roads. The line of maples from the First Academic Building was extended to the Old Mil at the foot of campus. Professor Alwood of the Horticulture Department took over the project and set out a line of saplings for each side of the new Faculty Row road.
A reply to Alwood was written by S. A. Wingard* on behalf of H. L. Price referring to the importance of Alwood's pioneering work in plant pathology and accepting the photographs. Alwood sent the photographs to Wingard after the response. Wingard indicated that the photographs would be valuable for college publicity. The collection now resides in the Virginia Tech Newman Library Special Collections in the A.B. Massey photo collection. It consists of a set of 80 photographs, a typed index, and Alwood's original field notes. The inventory documents the planting of over a hundred trees on the campus in the late 1890s by Alwood and his staff. One tree in particular is important in this inventory. Tree number 66 was a bur oak** planted at the site of the old agricultural experiment station. Alwood took the photograph on September 11, 1902 when the tree was 7 years old. There is very good reason to believe that today that tree is the only living member of Alwood's inventory. This (now) very large bur oak stands in front of Burruss Hall as a prominent icon of the campus. Several photographs of the tree can be viewed to your right.
Re: Experts check health of Virginia Tech' trees. Roanoke Times & World News, 08/17/10.