What do a Persian Parrotia and a Japanese Snowbell have in common? Unless you’re an expert in dendrology (the study of trees), most people might not know both are living plants. And even if you’ve called Southern Oregon your home for years, there is no guarantee you would guess that both the Parrotia and the Snowbell can be found in Rogue River’s arboretum—a botanical park devoted to trees. Though the river is the main tourist draw for a city like Rogue River, there are several exciting surprises hidden along the banks of this 2,200-person town. The Rogue River arboretum, also called Palmerton Park, happens to be one of these fascinating gems.
Palmerton Park started off as a bare piece of land owned by the Skevington family. In the early 1920’s, Orin F. Palmerton, a veteran of the Spanish-American war, purchased the land and began planting “domestic and exotic” trees from every corner of the globe. In 1966, Palmerton sold the land to the City of Rogue River, hoping that his tree nursey could be preserved as a park. Today, his dream is a reality, and the arboretum, named after Palmerton, is home to over ninety-five species of plant life, ranging from a Monkey Puzzle Tree to a Norwegian Spruce.
Unbeknown to some, the Palmerton Park has even earned Rogue River official recognition as a “Tree City, USA,” in 1983. Now graced with restrooms, a playground, and a suspension bridge named after the Skevington family, this piece of land is open to the public, as is Evans Creek, which flows through the property and connects the arboretum to Anna Classick Bicentennial Park (accessed via the suspension bridge). The city of Rogue River has even hosted community events, such as the Southern Oregon cycling adventure “Ride the Rogue,” and the city’s centennial celebration (in 2012), in Palmerton Park—much to the enjoyment of all. Coming up again this summer, “Ride the Rogue” (which raises money for the building of a greenway path linking Rogue River to other communities), will feature a post-race celebration feast among the arboretum’s plethora of trees.
Invariably, you can find one of the townspeople walking a dog or catching up with an old friend in Palmerton Park. While all the parks in Rogue River are tranquil and enjoyable, the arboretum is almost a sanctuary for natural life and plant growth. Some of the oldest trees in the park started nearly one hundred years ago, when Palmerton first planted them. At no charge to the visitor, this piece of land is not only beautiful, but full of living history. If you’re ready to check it out, Palmerton Park is located at 300 West Evans Creek Road, Rogue River, Oregon.
Powers, Dennis (2014). “Orin Palmerton sells his arboretum to preserve.” Jefferson Public Radio. Website: https://www.ijpr.org/post/orin-palmerton-sells-his-arboretum-preserve#stream/0
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