We’ve all passed beneath the drooping, feathery branches along Beaumont Avenue. Since the Great Depression, the deodar trees that overhang the grand country lane have filled us with a sense of wonder, peace and beauty. But in our hometown where many things are changing, how often do we pause and consider these silent witnesses to history?
The deodars have been part of our heritage since Fred Hirsch, owner of the Highland Springs Resort, planted them in 1930. Back then, people dreamed of an evergreen parkway that would also serve as a windbreak. Around the world, the pyramid-shaped trees—with their bluish-green needles—generate awe and deep respect. In Sanskrit, the word “deodar” means “tree of the gods.”
Stretching more than a mile and half toward Cherry Valley and Oak Glen, the deodars rise like sentries, visible to airline passengers flying over the Pass and to hikers climbing peaks in the San Bernardino Mountains. Rising up to 70 feet high, these living landmarks are part of the fabric of Beaumont and as such, are fiercely protected.
At their own peril, politicians, developers and pranksters find they must tread lightly around the trees. Over the years, some nature lovers in town have threatened to chain themselves to the deodar trees’ massive trunks to keep chainsaws at bay. A few years ago, planning commissioners heard such a threat and promptly spared two of the stately trees. A developer even changed the entrance for a new subdivision along Beaumont Avenue because of the deodars. And beware any prankster who would tamper with the beloved trees. In the early years, thieves sneaked out and under the cover of night, plucked themselves a Christmas tree, only to find themselves caught by sharp-eyed officers patrolling the parkway. The thieves had to plant a new deodar and water it for a year.
So, next time you’re cruising Beaumont Avenue, take a moment and contemplate the evergreen tunnel that has withstood the test of time and inspired us all.