Kentucky Tree Canopy
For several years I have studied and pieced together the land patents for different parts of the State of Kentucky. These land patents were obtained either from the State or Commonwealth of Virginia or the State of Kentucky in the 1700s and throughout the 1800s. These maps were made when the lands of Kentucky were surveyed as part of the settlement of Europeans. If you are interested in this type of history, I do recommend starting with the first peoples that lived in the land of modern-day Kentucky.
The above map is from the Native Land project.
There are several resources to use to piece together land patents, and I may get into them in a later blog entry. When I piece the different surveys together, they usually call for several trees at each of the property corners. As I started reviewing and diving into these documents, I thought about how this information may be extremely useful to others. It is essentially a snapshot of what the tree cover was at the time of white settlement before any mass logging was done across the landscape. As I drew up the survey plats from the land patents, I also marked what was called out for at each of the corners. I referenced the land patents to state plane coordinates (Kentucky 1600), creating approximate geolocations for all of these 1780-1810 trees for Northern Kentucky.
Land patents for Kentucky can be found on the Secretary of State's website. They look like the following:
If you read the above land patent, you will see where it calls out for specific groups of trees at each of the corners shown on the survey plat (map). Once I had done all of this for the extreme northern end of Kentucky, I created an online map showcasing all of this unique data. This map can be seen below.
When reading the patents, you will sometimes find where they noted a specific tree as being huge or large. It makes you wonder, especially having seen plenty of early logging photos, just how large those trees were that were called out for being the largest of them all. Especially from surveyors that had been all over Kentucky, usually surveying for a year or more at a time in the wilderness.