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Current Projects

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Century-Scale Climate Forcing of Temporal and Spatial Patterns in Whitebark Pine Ecosystems

Maegen L. Rochner and Henri D. Grissino-Mayer

Maegen takes notes at her study site in the Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming.

Ph.D. student Maegen Rochner will use her expertise in geomorphology and paleoclimatology to help solve a major question concerning the impacts of major climate episodes in the past on the current spatiotemporal patterns of high-elevation whitebark pine communities in the Beartooth Mountains of northwestern Wyoming. For example, are the dead standing whitebark pines attributable to the deteriorating temperatures during the Little Ice Age? Do current populations of these pines reflect the differential effects of elevation on snow and ice accumulation? During which periods did the tree islands of Engelmann spruce and whitebark pine establish?

Absolute Tree-Ring Dating of Two Longleaf Pine Dugout Canoes, Laurinburg, North Carolina, U.S.A.

Maegen L. Rochner and Henri D. Grissino-Mayer

A dugout canoe in the Museum of Scotland County, Laurinburg, North Carolina.

A very cool tree-ring project, the first of its kind in the United States, in which we're tasked with finding out when two dugout canoes were fashioned from old-growth longleaf pines growing in the Coastal Plain region of North Carolina. One challenge we faced was that few longleaf pine chronologies exist for this region, and even fewer that could be long enough to date the floating tree-ring series. We were elated recently when we were able to date the tree rings with absolute certainty against a reference tree-ring chronology we had developed earlier from pines sampled in a crib dam in nearby Hope Mills. What were the dates? Check for a publication soon to come out from this research!

Dendrochronological Dating of the Warner House and Barn (20LV334), Livingston County, Michigan, U.S.A

Maegen L. Rochner, Hudson W. Kelley, Christopher S. Wilson, Tim Bennett, and Henri D. Grissino-Mayer

An oak section from the Warner House in Livingston County, Michigan.

We were contacted recently about the possibility of our assisting with the dating of timbers from a house and barn located on a historic farmstead in Livingston County in southeastern Michigan. Very few such dendroarchaeological studies have been conducted in the upper Midwesst, so we were unsure about the probability of success for this project. Luckily, a nearby oak chronology already existed in the ITRDB and we successfully dated several timbers from the house and barn from this farmstead. The house dated to 1855, corroborated by historical accounts, while the barn dated to 1876. The date of construction for the barn was not previously known.

The Historical Dendroarchaeology of Two Historic Structures, Bear Paw State Natural Area, Valle Crucis, North Carolina

Maegen L. Rochner, Saskia van de Gevel, and Henri D. Grissino-Mayer

Maegen Rochner cores the Big Cabin at Bear Paw State Natural Area, North Carolina, U.S.A.

This project represents a collaboration between the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Science and the Department of Geography and Planning at Appalachian State University. Former LTRS graduate student Dr. Saskia van de Gevel developed this project as a teaching tool for students in her introductory geography classes to demonstrate techniques used by scientists for experiential learning. We hope to learn when exactly both log structures were built prior to their being relocated in their present locations sometime in the early 1900s. The Big Cabin has extremely large logs made from tulip poplar (shown above) and we believe the Small Cabin may have logs hewn from chestnut trees before their demise!

Tree-Ring Dating of Timbers from the Seal Cove Shipwreck, Acadia National Park, Maine

Henri D. Grissino-Mayer, Grant L. Harley, Savannah A. Collins, Meghan Foard, and Paul J. Krusic

Grant Harley surveys the Seal Cove shipwreck in Acadia National Park, Maine.

This was a very welcome surprise! While visiting the Visitor Center at Acadia National Park, I noticed a display about an archaeological project conducted a few years ago on a shipwreck in Seal Cove on the Maine coast. The ship is only exposed at low tide but is very accessible after a short hike through some dense understory. We were allowed to take only a few core samples and it turned out that Haglof increment borers were far better at extracting cores than our dry wood borers. We hope to learn when the timbers were fashioned that eventually went into the construciton of this schooner sometime in the late 1800s.

The Historical Dendroarchaeology of Sabine Hill, Elizabethton, Tennessee, Home of General Nathaniel Taylor

Henri D. Grissino-Mayer, Elizabeth A. Schneider, Maegen L. Rochner, Meagan E. Dennison, and Lauren A. Stachowiak

Lauren and Liz core a wall crace in the Sabine Hill historic house in Elizabethton, Tennessee.

General Nathaniel Taylor was a major historical figure, having served in the War of 1812 to protect General Jackson's forces during the siege of New Orleans. After a long and distinguished career as a politician and local business leader, Taylor supposedly began to build Sabine Hill in Elizabethton, Tennessee, but died in 1816 likely before the impressive two-story structure was completed. Today, the Tennessee Historical Commission is mounting a major effort to restore Sabine Hill to its original early 19th century grandeur as a classic example of Federal architecture. Our project is to determine when exactly Sabine Hill was constructed.

(Re-)Dating the Thomas Pate House, Colonial National Historic Park, Yorktown, Virginia

Henri D. Grissino-Mayer and Maegen L. Rochner

LTRS students pose outside before beginning to core the Thomas Pate House in Yorktown, Virginia.

In 1999, dendrochonologist Herman "Jack" Heikkenen collected 11 samples from the Thomas Pate House and dated the year of construction of this house to 1731. The only problem is that this house had already been built about 1700 by ferryman Thomas Pate, well documented in historical records! The original dating of this structure caused the National Park Service to rename the house as the Cole Digges House after the person who had owned the property in 1731. Our mission is to determine if the original dating of the timbers from this structure was accurate, and if so, why would timbers used in the house post-date the known date of construction?

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