Utah Division of
Forestry, Fire & State Lands

Utah Department of Natural Resources

Fremont Cottonwood - Toquerville

Click on photo for gallery.

Common Name Fremont Cottonwood
Species Populus
Address Northern Toquerville
City Toquerville
Year Planted Estimated: 1750s
Height
Spread
Circumference
DBH Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) is the standard forestry measurement of the tree's trunk diameter at 4.5 ft from the base.
Name of Nominator Darlene Maxwell Wilder
Date Rated
Ownership Private
Story

This beautiful old Cottonwood tree has been a landmark in Toquerville, Utah, for over two-hundred and fifty years. The Washington County Extension Agent, Adrian Hinton, put this tree's age at over two-hundred and fifty years old. It is easily spotted as you come around the horse-shoe bend north of town or from a mountain hike, it stands out among trees and as you come closer the character of this dear old tree is even more amazing. It stands as a tribute to the early settlers who came to this hard land in 1858. As they struggled to tame the land, it provided shade and respite for farmers and friends who toiled in the fields near-by. It is located at the far West end of Pecan Ave in a field.

The farm that surrounds it is a centennial farm and was recognized as such when Utah celebrated its centennial. The original owner of the land was Augustus Erastus Dodge, he started farming this land when he came to Toquerville in 1861. From his diary he tells that the first thing he did when he got there was to put out a good orchard and vineyard and then prepared to build a home.

Augustus planted and harvested the first Apricots in Washington County. They were valued almost like gold. One pound of Apricots sold for one pound of cotton. One of the original Apricot trees is located near the old Cottonwood tree.

Augustus was born December 6, 1822 at Six Point, New York. His family met the Mormon Elders and accepted the Gospel message when he was ten. They were all baptized on March 15, 1832. In the spring of 1834, the family moved to Kirtland, Ohio.

Augustus and his father worked on the construction of the Kirtland Temple. At Far West, he and his father were taken prisoner for about 10 days with the Prophet Joseph Smith and others. Augustus labored on the Nauvoo Temple and the Nauvoo House. He was in the Mormon Battalion, Company C.

In 1949, Augustus helped establish the ferry at Green River and spent a short time in that area. He was in an exploring party with founding families for Manti and Sanpete Valley. He was in the City Council in Manti and on police duty most of the time, he also was appointed one of the masons to take charge of the work for building the stone forts.

In 1861, Augustus was called to go to Dixie, he sold his mill and house for three ox teams and enough flour to last five years. Sadie, his oldest daughter, who was nine years old, drove one team while Augustus and his wife, Marion, drove the other two teams.

A quote from Augustus's diary tells of this call to Dixie, "When I was called to Dixie I have away what I had for an outfit to come to Dixie, as I could not sell it for one fourth of its value. I found a hard country but I explored and traveled around hunting out the watering places and settled down at Toquerville where I turned my attention to raising fruit putting out a good orchard and vineyard and then preparing to build again."

From a report in the Deseret News of one of Brigham Young's trips to southern Utah in 1861, it says that "Mr. Dodge has a fine young orchard and vineyard, consisting of apples, peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums, pears, quinces, almonds, figs, English walnuts, gooseberries, currants and Catawaba, Isabella and California grapes, all in a thrifty and promising condition."

Augusts's son, Samuel Clark Dodge was the next owner of the land. Sam continued the care of the orchards and vineyards and became well known for the fruit he grew.

Floods were always a severe threat to the residents of Toquerville. Much good fertile land was washed away. The mud and silt washed over the gardens and ruined many crops. Sam's property bordered Ash Creek and after each flood, his property would grow smaller.

On New Year's Day 1910, there was a terrible flood- one of the worst they had ever had. The small creek had been magnified into a roaring river. High boulders, trees, and often an animal that that been trapped came rolling, bounding along in the muddy red water. From time to time large hunks of his land would crumble into the water and take with it fruit trees and grape vines. Many hours of hard work were washed away into nothing. This same day Sam's wife Sarah gave birth to a daughter, it was a long tiresome day, one that Sam would never forget.

The next morning as the men in town began to survey the damage from the flood, they stopped by Sam's to offer sympathy and comfort because his loss had been great. Sam's reply was, "I got something last night that is of much more value than all of my farm that was washed away. We got a new baby daughter"

Because of the flooding on Ash Creek that caused so much trouble for the early farmers, the Civilian Conservation Corp was assigned to build check dams. Two of these historical dams are located about 200 feet due West of this beautiful large old Cottonwood tree.

There were often traveling shows going about the country. They always camped in Sam's lane near the big tree. One time they put up a big tent and put on shows during the day when it was light. They had some monkeys that were turned loose for a while and offered great entertainment for young and old alike as they frolicked and played in the tree near-by. Travelers have always been welcome to stay at the Dodge place, many of them camping near the big old tree.

Toquerville had the perfect soil and climate to raise grapes, but often it was difficult to sell them because they were so perishable. In order to prevent great losses the men started making "Dixie Wine". There was great demand for "Dixie Wine" at the mining communities in Nevada. Sam joined the others and became well known for this "Dixie Wine". The largest of the grape vineyards were just North of the old Cottonwood tree.

The current owner is Sam Dodge's daughter Luella Dodge Maxwell who still lives in the home; the farm is now pasture land where horses graze. With a full view of Pine Valley Mountain to the northwest and the sound of running water from Ash Creek some 60 yards away, it is a very serene place to visit and enjoy the beauty and character of this dear old tree. It is a treasure for Toquerville, and stand as a monument to those dear Pioneers who struggled to take this hard land.

There is not much left that has not been destroyed in the name of progress, it is nice to have this as a reminder that some things stand the test of time. As I sit and study this beautiful old tree I wish it could talk. It could tell me about the Indians who were here before the White man came, about the struggles of the people, my people and your people. I think if it could speak it would say something like this:

Lean on Me, ye weary traveler
Ti's good to have some company.
Quietly I spread my branches
To cool the ground beneath thy feet.
My body twisted in my stretching
The years have left their scars on me~
But I am here to give God's blessing
My call, my life, I stand for thee. -kn

Author Darlene Maxwell Wilder