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Clermont State Historic Site, Columbia County

Posted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:37 am
by ElijahW

Clermont is another of NY’s historic Hudson River estates, and one of the oldest. Family home of the prominent Livingstons from the mid-18th century into the 20th century, Clermont has seen much come and go over the years. Several Livingstons held NY State and National political offices, and Robert R. Livingston was a member of the “Committee of Five” that drafted the Declaration of Independence in 1776. He also later partnered with Robert Fulton in building what is regarded as the first commercially viable steamboat.

What remains of Clermont now is run by the state and is considered an Historic Site. My visit to Clermont was on March 17, 2019. I walked the grounds adjacent to the Hudson and the upland forested area east of the House and visitor center. Having such a long history of human habitation, I thought Clermont might have some very old and/or large trees, but that turned out largely not to be the case. My guess is that the oldest trees (White & Chestnut Oaks) are probably located on a small hill southeast of the House and date to the mid-19th century. A very large Black Walnut next to the House seems to be of similar age, but most everything else is probably between 100 and 125 years old.

Because the estate’s grounds were actively gardened, separating planted trees from naturally-occurring ones is difficult. Many of the Tuliptrees probably were planted, along with the White Pines, but it’s hard to say for sure. Here’s what I found:

Eastern White Pine Pinus strobus


Pitch Pine Pinus rigida


Eastern Redcedar Juniperus virginiana


Tuliptree Liriodendron tulipifera

131.5’ x 11.15’
116.8’ x 15.93’

Hackberry Celtis occidentalis

89.5’ x 8.92’

Sugar Maple Acer saccharum


Red Hickory Carya ovalis

113.7’ x 8.52

Bitternut Hickory Carya cordiformis


Mockernut Hickory Carya tomentosa

107.3’ x 5.42’

Black Walnut Juglans nigra

108.9’ x 9.43’

Pin Oak Quercus palustris

108.3’ x 9.4’

Northern Red Oak Quercus rubra

99.0’ x 7.14’

White Oak Quercus alba

102.8’ x 12.53’

Chestnut Oak Quercus montana

98.4’ x 9.21’

Rucker 10 Height Index: 110.5’
View looking west across the Hudson
View looking west across the Hudson
Tallest Red Hickory
Tallest Red Hickory
Tallest Mockernut Hickory
Tallest Mockernut Hickory
Nut from same tree
Nut from same tree
Double-trunk Walnut
Double-trunk Walnut
Chestnut Oak
Chestnut Oak
15’+ Tuliptree (youngish)
15’+ Tuliptree (youngish)
131’ Tuliptree
131’ Tuliptree