Bicentennial Moon Tree sign.

Bicentennial Moon Tree

Field review by the editors.

Flagstaff, Arizona

The idea of Moon Trees, trees grown on Earth from seeds carried on Apollo flights to the Moon, germinated in Flagstaff, which at the time was a center for astronaut training. That makes the "Bicentennial Moon Tree" in Flagstaff -- planted on April 30, 1976, according to its sign -- an extra-special member of an already exclusive club. Even more exclusive because it still has its original wood sign, and they are far less common than the Moon Trees themselves, which numbered in the hundreds (58 are still growing in the U.S.).

Bicentennial Moon Tree.

According to a story in the Arizona Daily Star, however, the Bicentennial Moon Tree never went to the Moon. The real Moon Tree was uprooted and killed by a moron only three days after it was planted, apparently a victim of 1976 Flagstaff politics (Some saw it as a symbol of artsy-fartsy tree-huggery).

The Moon Tree was then immediately, and secretly, replaced by a near-identical Earth spruce tree.

The supporters of the Bicentennial Moon Tree point out that the replacement was never noticed, and that the tree has, over the decades, grown in the fragments and soil of the real Moon Tree, which makes it at least partly Lunar. But we feel the real value is in the sign, which continues to enlighten new generations who otherwise would have never heard of Moon Trees or the Bicentennial.

Bicentennial Moon Tree

Address:
755 N. Bonito St., Flagstaff, AZ
Directions:
North side of the city. From US Hwy 180/N. Fort Valley Rd turn west at the Shell station onto W. Navajo Rd. Drive one block. At the stop sign turn left onto Hopi Drive/ N. Bonito St., then immediately turn right onto N. Thorpe Rd, then immediately turn left into the parking lot. Park as close to the big building as you can. The tree is along the back side of the big building (right side when viewed from the parking lot), between the building and a pond. It's a stunted evergreen; the wooden Moon Tree sign is next to it, mounted on a short pole.
Admission:
Free
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In the region:
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October 23, 2019

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