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Northwest Missouri State University


J.R. Brink was the Northwest Normal School's Superintendent of Construction and Maintenance.  Brink planted 300 trees a year from 1917 until 1927.  Brink's work is directly responsible for the campus being designated as the Missouri State Arboretum in 1993.Brink's love of landscaping with trees resulted in a dense forest on practically all land that did not have buildings.  His handiwork quickly became known as Brink's Forest.View toward the President's House (Gaunt House) from the top of a residence hall.  (Donated by David Duvall.)Well-worn dirt path leading up to the Administration Building.   The route, called the "Long Walk," was lined with hundreds of trees - most famously birches.More than 1,300 trees provide spring flowers, summer shade, fall colors and winter shelter at Northwest."For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver." - Martin LutherThree trails wind their way across campus giving students, faculty, staff and visitors eye-pleasing and peaceful views of colorful foliage.  The trails are: The Gaunt Trail, the Tower Trail and the Chatauqua Trail.Trees along the various trails have markers indicating what species they are.Named after the Gaunt House, the Gaunt Trail begins on the south side of Hudson Hall and contains 39 species.Northwest's Arboretum won the 2000 Communitree Award "for exemplary stewardship of community trees."The Communitree Award was presented to the Missouri Arboretum by the Missouri Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council and the Forestry Division of the Missouri Department of Conservation in 2000.Biodiversity is a top goal for plant accession at Northwest since Dutch Elm Disease killed off many of the elm trees on campus, which were in the majority, during the 1970s.The Tower Trail surrounds the University Bell Tower, the oldest section of the Northwest campus. The trail begins east of Roberta Hall and contains 32 species.The Chatauqua Trail was named after the area surrounding the Mary Linn Performing Arts Center, which at one time was called Chatauqua Park. Each year, traveling entertainers would visit Maryville and perform in the park, where locals would camp out to enjoy the entertainment. The trail begins near the northeast corner or North Complex (Cooper, Douglas and The Academy) and contains 31 species.The trees growing in the Missouri Arboretum give Northwest a welcoming feel and visitors to campus get a sense of entering a residential neighborhood rather than an institutional environment.Many alumni support  the Northwest Missouri State University Arboretum by dedicating a commemorative tree to a student, a professor, a staff member or loved one.A gift of $300 pays for a Commemorative Tree, its planting and initial care, and assists with maintenance over its lifetime.Northwest's lovely Yoshino Cherry Grove was one of many tree groves hit hard during the 2007 ice storm, which destroyed many trees on campus.  However, alumni rallied to replace the trees during the successful Arbor Day 2008 Drive.Northwest has long billed itself as the "most beautiful state university campus" in the state of Missouri thanks to its landscaped tree-lined campus."The day I see a leaf is a marvel of a day." ~Kenneth Patton"To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug." ~Helen Keller"To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves." ~Mohandas K. Gandhi"Trees are the earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven." ~Rabindranath TagoreNorthwest trees provide shade and shelter for many wild creatures including squirrels and a wide variety of birds.The campus design was inspired by the Forest Park design for the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair which evolved into the campus for Washington University.A sundial was presented by J.R. Brink to the Northwest State Teachers College in 1928.  The daughters of Brink restored the Sundial in 1964.  The "shadow clock" is north of the Gaunt House on the Gaunt Trails.  It is made from a French siliceous rock, known as a "buhrstone," and Nodaway County pebbles.  The buhrstone originally came from France in 1848 and was assembled in St. Louis, Mo.Northwest employee Johanne Wynne Fairchild began a process of cataloging the trees and setting up the trails in 1979.

Arboretum Roots

The Missouri State Arboretum is located on the campus of Northwest Missouri State University. The arboretum contains more than 125 tree species, the majority of which can be originally attributed to the work of one man, J.R. Brink. Superintendent of Construction and Maintenance at the Northwest Normal School.

Brink planted 300 trees a year starting in 1917 until his retirement in 1928, which resulted in a dense forest that quickly became known as "Brink's Forest" and covered all land that did not have a building on it.

Northwest has three separate Arboretum trails to view, the most famous being The Gaunt Trail, which is named for Thomas Gaunt, who owned a plant nursery on the property in the 1880s.

The Gaunt trail begins on the south side of Hudson Hall and contains 39 tree species.

The Tower Trail surrounds the University Bell Tower, which is the oldest section of the Northwest campus. The trail begins east of Roberta Hall and contains 32 tree species.

The Chatauqua Trail is so named because around the turn of the century, much of the area surrounding the Mary Linn Performing Arts Center was called Chatauqua Park. The trail begins near the northeast corner or North Complex and contains the 31 tree species.