Counting Tree Rings at Inestimable Gift Cemetery

Over the course of two days, the CAIRNS director and cousins John and Harvey mowed and trimmed the Inestimable Gift Cemetery, located in the Pass Creek District of Pine Ridge Reservation. When we arrived, we found an old pine tree in the old part of the cemetery had fallen or blown over. We cut the trunk into chunks and stacked them along the road. Near the base of the tree we cut a thick slice of trunk to take back to the office and count the annual growth rings to determine how old it was. Last year the oldest burial date we found on a headstone in the cemetery was 1892. This tree was from that same area of the cemetery. We counted 117 rings in the slice, which suggests the tree began growing around 1905. In the image above, you can see the ten-year increments of growth. It is fascinating to see the varying thicknesses of the annual growth rings and the differences in the distances between them.