Milepost #910

February 7, 2019

By Cindy Justice, Image from the ROWIA Archives

TITLE: HEAPS PEAK ARBORETUM: This week’s image shows Mary Putnam Henck (L) and Grace Williams (R) as they officiate at the Reforestation Project Dedication on June 17, 1931 (at the future site of Heaps Peak Arboretum). The sign reads: “Heaps Peak Reforestation Project Planted By The Lake Arrowhead Woman’s Club In Cooperation With The U.S. Forest Service.” The picture is from the Rim of the World Interpretive Association (ROWIA) archives. In the background one can see the devastation from the fire that totally destroyed the area in 1922. The Arboretum site is located just above where Fred Heaps established a ranch in the late 1800s. From 1928 through the mid-fifties the Lake Arrowhead Women’s Club undertook reforestation of the area. Its purpose was “to serve as a microcosm of the forest.” But after another destructive fire in 1956 the reforestation project was abandoned by the Forest Service, with the area becoming an illegal dumping ground. In 1982 George Hesemann, local teacher and naturalist, obtained permission from the Forest Service to redevelop the Arboretum. Volunteers began cleaning up the old dump and created trails. Only 4 trees had to be removed to create the trails and 175 were planted. In 1984 Hesemann formed the Rim of the World Interpretive Association to support and care for the Arboretum. When he retired in 1985 he dedicated the rest of his life to nurturing the Arboretum and its Botanical Gardens. The Arboretum was and is now maintained solely by volunteers. One of Hesemann’s goals was to make sure the area was available to everyone. The upgraded wheelchair accessible trail was dedicated over Labor Day weekend in 1998. Sadly Hesemann, who was lovingly called “the guardian of the forest,” suffered a heart attack and died just days before the dedication. Located between Lake Arrowhead and Running Springs on Hwy. 18, the Arboretum is open all year. Visit: for more information.

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