By Marjory J. Sente


Members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) always have found creative ways to raise money for their projects. Perhaps none was more creative than collecting funds to buy trees when President General Sarah Corbin Robert selected the Penny Pines Project to celebrate the National Society’s golden anniversary in 1940.

 In the late 1930s, the United States faced two major issues—the Great Depression and ecological disasters such as deforestation in the Appalachian Mountains and other forests that were in deplorable condition from over-harvesting, devastating fires and little replanting.

 The National Society adopted the Penny Pines Project to raise money to purchase trees to help reforest about five thousand acres of land. A penny bought a tree—in most instances, a pine tree. Five dollars bought 500 trees, enough to plant an acre of pine seedlings. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), under the supervision of the U.S. Forest Service, planted and cared for the trees. Each state was expected to designate a memorial forest.

Arizona State Regent and Prescott chapter member Mrs. Etta Oliver encouraged Prescott’s General George Crook Chapter to adopt the Penny Pines Project. Under the guidance of Regent Mrs. Courtney Bloom, the local group initially raised $10 for the reforestation of two acres of Yavapai County. Supervised locally by J.C. Nave of the U.S. Forest Service, the CCC planted 1000 seedlings in the Prescott National Forest’s Granite Basin Recreational Area as part of the DAR’s Golden Jubilee. The following year, another 1000 seedlings were added. To commemorate the Arizona DAR Memorial Forest, the U.S. Forest Service placed a large redwood marker at the site.

 This was not the first time that the General Crook Chapter sponsored the planting of trees. In 1931, when Mrs. Oliver was chapter regent, it planted two spruce trees by the Governor’s Mansion on the grounds of the Gubernatorial Mansion Museum, later renamed the Sharlot Hall Museum.

The General George Crook Chapter’s Penny Pines project received national attention when a photograph of the Granite Basin Recreational Area appeared in the October 1940 issue of the DAR’s national publication, as well as in National Geographic magazine. More than 2.5 million trees were planted around the country, with forests ranging from 400 trees planted in a park in Reno, Nevada, to one thousand acres (500,000 trees) planted in the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois. Besides Prescott’s chapter, the Cochise DAR chapter of Douglas sponsored the planting of a thousand seedlings in the Coronado National Forest.

While the project was called Penny Pines, these forests included numerous other trees native to their locale. Redbuds were planted in Oklahoma, cedars in Virginia and ash in Illinois, for example. 

In 1945 the General George Crook Chapter received a report that the pine seedlings were healthy and had grown to a height of two to three feet. Two years later, the group held a picnic at the Penny Pines site. In 1950 they did an inspection tour of the area to see the ten-year-old trees.

The chapter’s October 2023 meeting was held at the area. Nearly 84 years after their planting, the pine trees are more than full grown, and it appears that many of them have died. The redwood sign, however, has passed the test of time and still marks the area of the plantings.

To visit the DAR’s Penny Pines Memorial Forest, from downtown Prescott take Whipple Street to Iron Springs Road. Follow Iron Springs Road for 3.5 miles and turn right on Granite Basin Road. Take Granite Basin Road for about 3 miles; the sign will be on the right.


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