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Arbor Day is Midwest tradition

The first Arbor Day took place on April 10, 1872, in Nebraska. According to the Arbor Day Web site, Nebraska journalist and politician Julius Sterling Morton came up with the idea as part of his campaign to improve agricultural techniques when he...

The first Arbor Day took place on April 10, 1872, in Nebraska.

According to the Arbor Day Web site, Nebraska journalist and politician Julius Sterling Morton came up with the idea as part of his campaign to improve agricultural techniques when he served as President Grover Cleveland's Secretary of Agriculture.

Morton, originally from tree-rich Michigan, believed Nebraska's landscape and economy would benefit from the wide-scale planting of trees. He set an example himself by planting orchards, shade trees and wind breaks on his own farm and urged his neighbors to follow suit.

Morton's real opportunity to promote tree-planting came when he was appointed to the Nebraska Board of Agriculture. He proposed that a special day be dedicated to tree-planting and increasing awareness of the importance of trees. Nebraska's first Arbor Day was a success, with more than one million trees planted. A second Arbor Day took place in 1884 and the state made it an annual legal holiday in 1885, using April 22 to coincide with Morton's birthday.

In the years following that first Arbor Day, Morton's idea spread beyond Nebraska with Kansas, Tennessee, Minnesota and Ohio all proclaiming their own Arbor Days. Now, all 50 states celebrate Arbor Day although the dates may vary in keeping with the local climate.

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At the federal level, in 1970, President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day. Arbor Day is also now celebrated in other countries. Variations are celebrated as Greening Week in Japan, The New Year's Days of Trees in Israel, The Tree-loving Week of Korea, The Reforestation Week of Yugoslavia, The Students' Forestation Day of Iceland and The National Festival of Tree Planting in India.

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