Atlanta Beltline Tour Group

Atlanta Beltline Tour Group

January 8, 2022

This Week's Tour...

...met at 9:00AM Saturday on the Beltline Eastside Trail near Parish (R.I.P...soon to reopen as "Painted Park"!). We walked for 1 1/2 hours, covering 1 mile of the Beltline, ending at Ponce City Market.

"The Tourists"...
...shouting out to this week's tourists, another good sized group braved the cold, including a new Druid Hills resident and visitors from Minnesota!


Thanks for a great tour!

Map of the week...
...is actually a "video of the week"; Georgia Audubon's wildlife camera compilation of fauna along the Beltline and the 80 acres of Trees Atlanta Arboretum. What's cuter than a raccoon? TWO raccoons!


Thanks for all the awesome work, 

Tree of the week...
...singling out one of the hundreds of specimens from the dozens of collections along the arboretum.

We spoke a little on this bright and chilly winter morning about some of the spectacular foliage and blooms you can see if you come back to visit the Trees Atlanta Arboretum in the spring. One of my favs is the Fringe Tree, planted in the Arboretum "neighborhood" themed "Peace", as it connects the The King Center and Jimmy Carter Library and Museum and the Nobel Peace Prize housed in each.

Upon close inspection, you may notice there are non-invasive Chinese varieties planted in the corridor along with the native varieties, providing a diverse and extended blooming season without being invasive and having the risk of crowding out native species.

From Trees Atlanta Hometown Favorites: "White Fringe Tree is a showy flowering native that takes on a shrub-like form, capable of reaching heights of 25′. This Eastern US native is renowned for it’s white fringe-like creamy white flowers, which densely cover the tree deep into Spring, prior to leaf emergence. Traditionally used as a specimen or pollinator tree in garden settings, its tolerance for air pollution allows for its use in urban plantings. However, its preference for decent soil and moisture should not be ignored. Fringe tree is sexed and in the right conditions, females can produce small olive-like fruits that are enjoyed by numerous bird species."


Chionanthus virginicus  
Fringe Tree

"Stump" of the week...
...featuring a question raised during the tour that Jeff couldn't answer.

Q: How can I tell different oak species apart...Part II? Swamp Chestnut vs. Chinquapin

A: These 2 oak species are on the Beltline Eastside Trail, both as live plantings and as chrome sculptures in David Landis' art installation just across North Avenue from PCM Kroger. As you can see, both are white oaks with similar serrated leaf lobes, acorns, and bark. Check out the excellent linked comparison below, but I'm going to keep 2 things in mind: Chinquapin leaf lobes are angled forward and Swamp Chestnut leaves have a velvety underside.


Swamp Chestnut (left) vs. Chinquapin (right)
Thanks, bplant.org

December 18, 2021

This Week's Tour...

...met at 9:00AM Saturday on the Beltline Eastside Trail near Parish (R.I.P...soon to reopen as "Painted Park"!). We walked for 1 1/2 hours, covering 1 mile of the Beltline, ending at Ponce City Market.

"The Tourists"...
...shouting out to this week's tourists, another good sized group braved the rainy forecast, including Trees Atlanta volunteers and docents!


Thanks for a great tour!

Map of the week...
...is the "Georgia Fall Line". The change in elevation that it indicates is significant in several ways;  ships can navigate upstream to it and as the river flows downstream, the drop in height gives the water potential energy used to power industrial plants, making it the ideal location for 2 former Georgia State Capitals, Augusta and Milledgeville (sorry Louisville...you are located a little south of this).

From the New Georgia Encyclopedia:  "The fall line is a geological boundary, about twenty miles wide, running northeast across Georgia from Columbus to Augusta. It is a gently sloping region that rapidly loses elevation from the north to the south, thereby creating a series of waterfalls. During the Mesozoic Era (251-65.5 million years ago), the fall line was the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean; today it separates Upper Coastal Plain sedimentary rocks to the south from Piedmont crystalline rocks to the north. The fall line’s geology is also notable for its impact on early transportation in Georgia and consequently on the state’s commercial and urban development"



Thanks for the pic, 

Tree of the week...
...singling out one of the hundreds of specimens from the dozens of collections along the arboretum.

This week is a repeat shout out to my dad's favorite tree, the mighty beech, which this month began it's transition from summer green to wintery copper. Because of a process called "marcescence", or the retention of dead plant material, these amazing native trees retain their dead leaves throughout the winter, sheltering birds as well as their own tender spring shoots. 

In the spring, beeches will experience "abscission", or the shedding of dead plant material, that most trees went thru the previous autumn, allowing the dead leaves to finally fall, decay around the base of the tree, and form humus, the organic matter in soil so vital to the tree for nutrition and water retention.



Fagus grandifolia  
American Beech


"Stump" of the week...

...featuring a question raised during the tour that Jeff couldn't answer.

Q: How can I tell different oak species apart?

A: The short answer is the same as getting to Carnegie Hall..."practice"! In all seriousness, other than telling the 2 oak families apart - white oaks have rounded lobes while red oaks have pointier lobes - it can be tough. On top of that, our knowledgeable docent-in-training pointed out that leaves can different on different parts of the trees. 

Here is a great posing in Forestry Forum comparing "Northern Red Oak" with "Scarlett Oak", both differences between the species as well as differences between their lower/shade leaves and upper/sun leaves! 


Scarlet oak acorns are usually about 1" long, 
with a bowl-shaped cap that encloses 
about half of the acorn

November 13, 2021

 This Week's Tour...

...met at 9:00AM Saturday on the Beltline Eastside Trail near Parish (R.I.P...soon to reopen as "Painted Park"!). We walked for 1 1/2 hours, covering 1 mile of the Beltline, ending at Ponce City Market.

"The Tourists"...
...shouting out to this week's tourists, a really big group! I did my best to shout to the back of the group...hope you all enjoyed it! I really enjoyed talking with you all!


Thanks for a great tour!

Map of the week...
...is a 1970 map of the proposed I-485 route...that was subsequently cancelled 1in 1975, but not before hundreds of homes were demolished along the route. Our tour walked under the part of the road system was completed in the 90's as Freedom Parkway (in blue below). Other mid-neighborhood sections were converted to city parks John Howell and Sydney Marcus (circled in red below).


Thanks for the pic, 

Tree of the week...
...singling out one of the hundreds of specimens from the dozens of collections along the arboretum.

This week is a shout out to the Georgia Oak! I'm not even going to try and rephrase this quote from wikipedia...cuz it says it all! Including my favorite geological term "monadnock". Here is it verbatim:

"The tree was first discovered in 1849 at Stone Mountain, Georgia, where several stands of pure specimens grow along the popular walk-up trail at around 1,300 feet (near the large chestnut oak in the middle of the trail and before the rest pavilion halfway up the trail). Georgia oaks are also found at nearby monadnocks, including Panola Mountain and Arabia Mountain in Georgia."


Quercus georgiana  
Georgia or Stone Mountain Oak
(Thanks, wikipedia!)


"Stump" of the week...

...featuring a question raised during the tour that Jeff couldn't answer.

Q: You asked 'How are Beltline projects funded?

A: I mentioned 'thru Tax Allocation Districts', where a portion of taxes collected by the city are earmarked for the Beltline, but it's much more than that! From the Beltline website, funding thru 2019:

Approximately $600 million from multiple public and private sources has been invested between 2005 and 2019 to implement the Atlanta BeltLine and deliver tangible results – including 11 miles of new permanent trails, 315 acres of new and renewed parks and greenspaces, over 396 acres of remediated brownfields, and new and diverse affordable housing opportunities.

WOW! So...this seems worthy of a funding pie chart, which I don't have access to, so here is a photo of my favorite Thanksgiving pie...pumpkin!


 Thanks, Food Network!

October 9, 2021

This Week's Tour...

...met at 9:00AM Saturday on the Beltline Eastside Trail near Parish (R.I.P...soon to reopen as "Painted Park"!). We walked for 1 1/2 hours, covering 1 mile of the Beltline, ending at Ponce City Market.

"The Tourists"...
...shouting out to this week's tourists, including the Ellenwood Birthday crowd, an Atlanta charter school teacher, and FOM (Friends Of Mom!)! Seriously awesome group!


Thanks for a great tour!

Map of the week...
...is really a photo of Ponce de Leon Springs, circa 1895. We talked about the development of Old Fourth Ward Park as both a community recreational resource and - as a partially restored wetlands - a key player in flood abatement. Today, there is a 2-acre lake that serves as both a stormwater detention pond and an ecosystem supporting herons, turtles, fish, and much more. It's a stand-out example of returning the land to it's original, natural state.


Thanks for the pic, 

Tree of the week...
...singling out one of the hundreds of specimens from the dozens of collections along the arboretum.

I love pointing out the Scarlet Oak up on "Three Tree Hill" across the eastside trail from "Two Urban Licks", but while is it huge...and beautiful...it seems my information about it being a "champion" for Atlanta is out-of-date! As of 2020, the largest recorded Scarlet Oak in Atlanta is located on Emory University campus. Check out more of Atlanta's champions here; do you live near one?


Quercus coccinea  
Scarlet Oak


"Stump" of the week...

...featuring a question raised during the tour that Jeff couldn't answer.

Q: You mentioned that the Trees Atlanta Beltline Arboretum is designed as 14-15 different "neighborhoods" or themes and that one of those themes is "medicinal plants" near the Morehouse campus; what is the status of that part of the arboretum and what are some of the plants?

A: Well...big stumper there! I wasn't able to find out the status of that proposed planting, but there is plenty happening on the westside! Check-out some of the online descriptions of westside plantings [here] and/or check out a Trees Atlanta Westside Trail walking tour in person! [calendar]


 In the West End neighborhood and close to mile 1 on the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum, this photo station is located near Gordon White Park between White Street and Ralph David Abernathy.

September 18th, 2021, 9:00AM

This Week's Tour...

...met at 9:00AM Saturday on the Beltline Eastside Trail near Parish (R.I.P...soon to reopen as "Painted Park"!). We walked for 1 1/2 hours, covering 1 mile of the Beltline, ending at Ponce City Market.

"The Tourists"...
...shouting out to this week's tourists, recent Dawsonville residents (2 not pictured) recently relocated from Houston. Welcome to the ATL!


Thanks for a great tour!

Map of the week...
...is really an aerial photo of the Atlanta Crackers stadium, Ponce de Leon Park (built 1905, destroyed by fire 1923, rebuilt 1924). This photo is undated, but it shows both the Sears Building (1926) and the Ford Factory (1914)...so it is the "new" concrete and steel ballpark sometime between 1927 and 1964. I included a street level pic from the 1950's. 

I'm geeking out about a couple of things in these photos:

- The aerial photo shows the original rail spur going into the courtyard of Sears, not just stopping alongside it (like we experience today in the "Shed").

- The 1950's photo shows cards and overhead streetcar power lines...but no trolly tracks. If there is still a "streetcar", could it be an electric bus? The original streetcar on this route was number #2. The current MARTA bus route today? Also #2! 

- Notice the Sears sign in the street photo...PCM designed their new sign to follow that same design!




Thanks for the pics, 

Tree of the week...
...singling out one of the hundreds of specimens from the dozens of collections along the arboretum.

The Georgia oak is native to the southeastern United States, mainly in northern Georgia, but with additional populations in Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina. It grows on dry granite and sandstone outcrops of slopes of hills at 50–500 meters (160–1,640 ft) altitude.

The tree was first discovered in 1849 at Stone Mountain, Georgia, where several stands of pure specimens grow along the popular walk-up trail at around 1,300 feet (near the large chestnut oak in the middle of the trail and before the rest pavilion halfway up the trail). Georgia oaks are also found at nearby monadnocks, including Panola Mountain and Arabia Mountain in Georgia.


Quercus georgiana  
Georgia Oak


"Stump" of the week...

...featuring a question raised during the tour that Jeff couldn't answer.

Q: What is happening on "Three Tree Hill"?

A: I enjoy pointing out the hill on the west side of the Atlanta Beltline Eastside trail; it's not a natural slope and is most likely the result of piling up tailings from leveling out the original railroad bed. I enjoy pointing out how several trees were long established on this hill prior to the ABI development (including Atlanta Champion Scarlet Oak!), but the remaining trees and shrubs were volunteers only able to root (and prevent erosion) after Trees Atlanta stabilized the hillside with a woven willow branch fence. 

So, you can imagine my surprise when we saw the hillside this weekend with quite a bit of evident clearing! But, fear not! Only invasives (kudzu, cherry laurel, etc), leaving enough native volunteers in place to keep the hillside stable and also offer them plenty of room to grow!


Hasta luego (or never), cherry laurels!

August 14th, 2021

 This Week's Tour...

...met at 9:00AM Saturday on the Beltline Eastside Trail near Parish (R.I.P...soon to reopen as "Painted Park"!). We walked for 1 1/2 hours, covering 1 mile of the Beltline, ending at Ponce City Market.

"The Tourists"...
...shouting out to this week's tourists, an Atlantan returning to the south from Seattle. Welcome home!!!!


Thanks for a great tour!

Map of the week...
...has us returning to an oldie but goodie...a map of Atlanta's city limit expansions...focusing on the last concentric circle expansion (from the Zero Mile Marker in today's Underground Atlanta) in 1889.


Thanks for the pic, 

Tree of the week...
...singling out one of the hundreds of specimens from the dozens of collections along the arboretum.

PSYCH! This week's tree is a native flowering plant currently in full bloom in the prairie on the western edge of the Eastside Trail. 

Sesbania herbacea (syn. Sesbania exaltata) is a species of flowering plant in the legume family known by the common names bigpod sesbania,[1] Colorado River-hemp,[2] and coffeeweed. It is native to the United States, particularly the southeastern states, where it grows in moist environments. It can be found elsewhere as an introduced species. It is a woody herb growing to 3 meters or more in height. The leaves are made up of many pairs of oblong leaflets. The inflorescence is a small raceme of pealike flowers with yellow or purple-spotted petals.


Sesbania herbacea  
Coffeeweed


"Stump" of the week...

...featuring a question raised during the tour that Jeff couldn't answer.

Q: Where was the 1996 Olympic Gold medal baseball game played?

A: Here I am during the game at the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium!


Thanks, John McLean! Friends since 1981!