A Living Memorial
On the north side of the University of Montana campus, twenty-nine evergreen trees stand in two columns, running from the corner of the Oval to Eddy Avenue. They form Memorial Row, along what used to be the path of Van Buren Avenue. Their history stretches back to 1919 following the end of World War I. That's when the university planted the original thirty-two trees to honor men and women, connected to UM, who died in service during the war. Some lost their lives in combat, but many more died of influenza during military training or service in Missoula and elsewhere.
The Forestry School nursery supplied the Yellow Western Pines. They are also known as Ponderosa Pines and are Montana's state tree. Originally, a white T-board stood in front of each tree, with the name of the person whom it honors.
In 1925, the university replaced those boards with 35 brass name plates atop concrete markers.
At the same time, the university added a memorial tablet on a boulder near the edge of the Oval closest to Memorial Row. It lists 21 of the 31 1919 honorees, those who were faculty, alumni or undergraduates. By 1925, the university had increased the number of names on the official list to 35, and sometime later, it grew to 37.
94-1921-Archives and Special Collections, Mansfield Library
This photograph from 2002 shows how the trees and the UM campus have grown.
This satellite photograph from Google Earth shows Memorial Row in approximately 2007. Construction of Don Anderson Hall is underway in the lower right hand corner.
Courtesy: Google Earth
In the fall of 2009, the University added a new sidewalk, running down the center of Memorial Row.
In October, 2010 the University took inventory of the plaques to determine which ones are missing and to dig up the ones that had sunk below ground level.
On November 22, 2010, a strong wind storm pushed over one the Memorial Row trees in front of McGill Hall.