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Cork Elms line Woodside Ave., looking east from Channel Rd. c. 1940's

Cork Elms line Woodside Ave., looking east from Channel Rd. c.1940's

The beautiful archway of Cork Elms at the west entrance to lakeside is believed to be the only lane of these huge old trees in the United States. They were planted on Arbor Day of 1893 by the pupils of the first school in Lakeside. The trees had been imported from Australia by the El Cajon Land Company.

Spreading branches of these historic old cork trees formed an archway of scenic beauty over Woodside Avenue. Their cool inviting shade has welcomed the traveler to lakeside since the horse and buggy days.

In their native country, Australia, the cork bark grows much thicker and is used commercially. Only a limited area of bark is harvested periodically and the harvest does not injure the tree. They are unique in the fact that they bear no flowers or seeds, but propagate themselves by offshoots from the roots -- if left alone they would soon have become a veritable jungle. A few of these shoots have been planted in Lakeside and were growing into fine trees. A plan was formulated whereby this growth could be saved and given to those who would plant them on their properties.

Since about 1917, a large nursery in Oneca, Florida had been importing these Cork Elms from Australia, and they were being planted throughout the south. However, it has been learned that those trees have not grown to the size of the Lakeside Cork Elms.

"Old Landmark Fades Away"

"Old Landmark Fades Away"
E. R. Kouns, H. O. Barnett, Flossie Beadle & Mary Schadt

In the past these cork trees have been mutilated and threatened with destruction many times. For many years it had been the practice of the gas and electric company to top about ten feet from the south lane of trees, giving them a hedge-like appearance. However, in 1946, the citizens of Lakeside, with the aid of public officials, persuaded the gas and electric company to move their power lines to a different location. After that, the trees again grew into a beautiful archway.

Flossie Beadle

The Cork Elms along Woodside Avenue became Flossie Beadle's focal point, and from 1946 on, she made a supreme effort to save the trees. Sadly it failed. Again in 1965 she gained recognition when she led a citizen's group in preserving the Boathouse. She was honored as Lakeside's Woman of the Year. The Beadle place on Ashwood St. was the setting for Flossie's Museum. One of the buildings was formerly the La Mesa Train Depot, which has now been returned to La Mesa and restored.

Originally there were about fifty trees on each side of Woodside Avenue. On February 6, 1956, seven of the beautiful old shade trees were cut down from the south lane for entrance to a proposed shopping center (Safeway/Vons). Previously the promoter had made many promises that the trees would be preserved as an asset to the shopping center. In 1967, the last of the Cork Elms were cut-down.

Cork Elms: Historic Landmark of Lakeside by Florence Beadle, 1956

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Last updated
12/06/2015

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