Albert Lea’s streets with tree names

Published 10:15 am Saturday, April 10, 2010

Donald R. Wedge, who died in March 2008, was the owner of Wedge Nursery and very interested in Freeborn County’s largest and most historic trees. This detail is emphasized with a notebook he donated to the Freeborn County Historical Museum.

A specific Albert Lea tree he thought was really interesting for two reasons was a large bur oak just off Lakewood Avenue.

There may have been a consideration about a decade ago that this particular tree could be a candidate for being listed on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) statewide Big Tree Registry.

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One of the ways this is determined is to measure the circumference of the tree’s trunk at a point four and a half feet above the ground. This particular tree then had a circumference of 134 inches. Another essential measurement was the tree’s crown, which was then 69 feet.

However, the state’s largest bur oak tree, designated and listed in 1999, had a circumference of 275 inches, a crown of 80 feet and located on private property in the Rochester area. (This record is still active according to the latest listing from the DNR.)

The second reason Wedge may have thought this particular tree had special significance was its proximity to the present Burr Oak Drive. Incidentally, the words bur and burr are both acceptable regarding the name given to this genus of oak trees. There could also be speculation based on this one tree somehow being the inspiration for the name given to this street on Albert Lea’s north side.

However, Burr Oak Drive isn’t the only local street with a name derived from trees.

Some of those other street names, according to listings on several recent city maps are: Bay Oaks Drive, Birch Hill Drive, Cedar Avenue, Cherry Avenue, Chestnut Street, Elm Street, Elmhill Drive, Maplehill Drive, Oak Lane, Oakhurst Road, Oakwood Drive, Oakwood Terrace, Pinehill Drive, Pinewood Drive, Poplar Avenue, Shady Oak Drive, Twin Oaks Lane and Walnut Drive.

A double check with this listing clearly indicates that oak trees have become the inspiration for the naming of seven Albert Lea streets, including Burr Oak Drive.

Yet, this is hardly the end of a listing of local streets with names inspired by trees. And the key word is wood. Thus, another check with several city maps results in the following: Brentwood Circle, Briarwood Drive, Edgewood Avenue, Glenwood Drive,Greenwood Drive, Kirkwood Avenue, Lakewood Avenue, Lynwood Drive, Norwood Drive, Southwood Drive, Trollwood Drive, Wedgewood Drive, Wedgewood Road, Westwood Drive, Wildwood Circle and Wood Park Lane.

There are two more local streets with names somewhat related to trees. One is Forest Avenue, and the other is Orchard Street.

As a result of these listings, there are at least 37 Albert Lea area streets with tree-based names.