Old Apple Tree Festival

Old Apple Tree, circe 1923. Photo by Esther Mason

The annual Old Apple Tree Festival is a celebration centered on the oldest living apple tree in the Northwest, planted at Fort Vancouver in 1826.

Old Apple Tree Park, located on Columbia Way just east of Interstate 5 Bridge, will host the festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, October 3, 2015.

Providing family fun, food and history of Vancouver's Old Apple Tree, the festival celebrates our community's legacy. Throughout the day Urban Forestry Commissioners give away cuttings from the Old Apple Tree; cuttings are limited and will be given out until they are gone. This is a free, family friendly event with activities for children, fruit tree pruning workshops, food, live music, and walking tours of Fort Vancouver. Fort Vancouver Antique Equipment Association will be on hand with rope making and corn grinding activities.

This year the festival will once again feature a community apple cider pressing. Bring your own apples and a clean container to catch your fresh cider. Approximately 12 lbs of apples will make a quart of cider.

For questions about the cider pressing or the Festival, contact Urban Forestry at (360) 487-8308.

Old Apple Tree History and Lore

In 1830 Clark County's first apple harvest occurred - one apple. Planted near Fort Vancouver in 1826, the Old Apple Tree is considered the oldest in the Northwest and the matriarch of Washington State's apple industry.

Its modest beginning has been traced to the whimsical flirtations of an English woman in 1825. Historians have learned from diary entries that Lt. Aemilius Simpson, an officer in the Royal Navy, was attending a formal dinner on the eve of his departure to the rugged Pacific Northwest. At that dinner, a young woman admirer collected some apple seeds left over from the fruit dessert and dropped the seeds in Lt. Simpson's dinner jacket pocket saying, "Plant these when you reach your Northwest wilderness." Simpson forgot about the seeds until he found them in his pocket months later at Fort Vancouver.

In 1826, under the direction of Dr. John McLoughlin, gardener James Bruce planted the seeds. Of the five original apple trees, the Old Apple Tree is the only one remaining. It has withstood decades of flood, storms, ice and the steady encroachment of development, the railroad and SR-14.

On October 19, 1984, the Old Apple Tree was recognized during the festive opening of Old Apple Tree Park (112 SE Columbia Way). The community celebrates the Old Apple Tree Festival each year on the first Saturday in October to commemorate this historic tree.

Bob Cromwell, Archeologist with the National Parks Service and Fort Vancouver, wrote a detailed history of the Old Apple Tree, which you can view here.

The Old Apple Tree is a tangible reminder of the power of trees to bridge generations and provide continuity between the past and the future. By planting trees today, we leave a legacy for future generations to enjoy. Trees greatly enhance our quality of life here in Vancouver by beautifying our neighborhoods and parks, cleaning the air and water, and providing numerous other environmental, social and economic benefits.

Call (360) 487-8308 or email for festival details and additional information on the Old Apple Tree.

Old Apple Tree, during construction on SR 500
Mrs. Neth standing next to the Old Apple Tree, date unknown
Woman with bike standing near the Old Apple Tree, date unknown
Location
Old Apple Tree Park
11 SE Columbia Way
Vancouver, WA 98668