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Healthy Elms

May 2024
1min read

In Howard Mansfield’s article “Elm Street Blues” (October/November 1986), he describes the devastation caused by the Dutch elm disease and the resultant demise of the American elm tree as an urban focal point. He also mentions various communities across the country known for either their past or their present elm tree grandeur. Noticeably absent, however, was any reference to an intact stand of Ulmus americana , almost two hundred in number, that stretches for seven uninterrupted blocks along Luzerne Street in Westmont Borough, a suburb of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. According to senior residents of the area, the trees constitute the longest continuous row of American elms east of the Mississippi.

With the centennial of the Johnstown flood less than two years away, the city is now engaged in a community-wide effort to refurbish and expand its Flood Museum, local Coal Heritage Center, and downtown Historical Triangle in time for an expected influx of tourists. Admittedly these man-made monuments and memorials certainly warrant the visitor’s close inspection, but in my opinion, they can never compare with the special majesty of those wonderful elm trees, arched over the street like a giant cathedral roof, standing one after another, almost as far as the eye can see.

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