September 23, 2012

Invasive trees threatening historic site

Non-native trees damaging Salmon River shoreline

MALONE — An invasive tree is compromising shoreline stability and jeopardizing concrete foundations near the Salmon River.

But it will be several weeks before Village Department of Public Works crews can get to the troubled spots and kill off the problem with eco-friendly chemicals.

Dr. Dean Chapman told the Village Board that attention is needed before the ashleaf maple, or box elder tree becomes out of control.

He said the ashleaf maple is taking over land that once held native trees.

“It tears off bricks, and walls collapse,” he said. “They breed prolifically and cause damage quickly.”

The damage he described has started on foundations and concrete structures along the Salmon River, including behind the historic Horton Mill.

He said that as the roots of the tree collect water and expand, they push with such force that they punch through and cause breeches between stones or seams and crack solid walls.

Once they get a foothold, the root swelling continues, the cracks get wider, and eventually the stone or concrete breaks off and compromises the supportive structures.

The section behind Horton Mill “is unprotected, and it will push the stones and wall right into the river,” he said.

According to the Franklin County Historical and Museum Society, which is researching the mill’s history, the original grist mill was built with wood before 1806 by one of Malone’s first settlers, John Wood. But it was washed out and eventually torn down in 1853. Hiram Horton purchased the land and rebuilt the mill with stone in nearly the same spot.

Horton Mill was placed on the National Historic Register in 1975.


Some say the ground beneath the structure is compromised and the building could fall into the river and endanger the village’s main water line nearby that brings water from Chasm Falls into Malone.

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