The Heaps Peak Arboretum rests just above the site where pioneer Fred Heaps established a ranch in the late 1800s. After his death, the ranch fell into the hands of his nephew and later became a lumber harvesting operation.
Arboretum Site 1925
In 1922, fire devastated the site, leaving only remnants of blackened trees. Six years later, the Lake Arrowhead Women's Club, headed by Mary Putnam Henck, organized the first planting of new trees. Club members and studnets from Lake Arrowhead Elementary School assisted in the project. By 1931, the site was officially named the Heaps Peak Reforestation Project.
Mary Putnam Henck (L) and Grace Williams (R)
Officiate at Reforestation Project Dedication June 17, 1931
1st thru 4th Grade Students with Teacher
Miss Bartels 1930
7th and 8th Grade Students with Teacher Miss Holland
and Ranger Lynn Correll 1931
For the next decade the women's club faithfully continued its planting efforts. But all planting activity halted with the outbreak of World War II.
Fire again ravaged the area in 1956. Fortunately, most of the trees survived. However, the U.S. Forest Service and the community had abandoned the care of the site and, by 1982, it had become an illegal dumping ground. Vehicles traveling the site destroyed sensitive root species and eroded the soil. Toxins from household waste spilled onto the ground and rusting refrigerators marred the landscape.
ROWIA is Born
Disturbed by neglect of the site, arboretum founder George Hesemann decided to save it.
He secured permission from the Forest Service to manage the site and on August 10, 1982, volunteers began cleaning and creating trails. (Only four trees were removed to create the trails - the largest only six inches in diameter - and 175 new trees were planted.) Volunteers installed barbed wire around the perimeter to prevent trespassing and vandalism, and placed concrete posts in front to block vehicle access and discourage dumping. Cedars were planted in the old dirt roadways to help nature reclaim the routes.
Arboretum Construction Commenced
August 10, 1982
Arboretum was Dedicated and Opened to the Public
June 30th, 1984
Hesemann formed the Rim of the World Interpretive Association to support and care for the new Heaps Peak Arboretum. After his passing in 1998, a tree was planted in his memory near the demonstration garden. Today work continues under the direction of the ROWIA board of directors and volunteer members.