It was in the 50s of the last century . Dr. Edmund Schulman fanatically crawled over the rocks of the Inyo National Forest - he was obsessed with the idea of finding the oldest tree in the local flora. Using special tools, he took wood samples from the largest sequoias to count the annual rings - but over and over again he was disappointed. Titanic trees showed themselves like accelerated girls - they looked much older than they really were .
Why did Shulman pin his hopes on sequoias? It's simple - it seemed logical that the higher the tree, the older it is. And you will not find trees taller than sequoias.
When the scientist, out of despair, began to pick not only sequoias, but also other conifers, the Inyo forest presented Shulman with an unexpected surprise - local pines were much older than sequoias .
Outwardly, the bristlecone pine trees look rather inconspicuous in comparison with the sequoias propping up the sky. Small in stature (up to a maximum of 15 meters), with crooked twisted trunks and cracked reddish bark - they look as if someone has been deliberately mocking them all their lives.
Who would have thought that among them there would be a real tree old man under 5000 years old.
After counting the annual rings of one of the pines, Shulman came to the conclusion that the tree began its life no later than 2831 BC . Just imagine, when Stonehenge was being built, it had been growing for four centuries. And when Pontius Pilate sentenced Jesus to death, this phenomenal pine tree was already preparing to celebrate its three thousandth birthday!
The prehistoric tree was christened Methuselah - in honor of the biblical long-liver.
And then sad events began, because of which the modern US authorities had to fully classify Methuselah.
After the publication of Shulman's discovery, trains of tourists were drawn into the Inyo forest. Everyone wanted not only to see an ancient pine tree, but also to pinch off a piece as a keepsake. Naturally, the tree's condition began to deteriorate rapidly ...
But a few years later, something outrageous happened. After the sensational news about the age of Methuselah, dendrologists began to actively study other pines - and found a specimen that was at least another 300 years older. The tree was given the name Prometheus and they began to coordinate with the authorities the possibility of creating a reserve in the Inyo forest.
At the same time, a graduate student named Donald Curry was collecting materials for his scientific work in the local mountains. Among other things, he needed to research the age of conifers. Curry made an agreement with the Forest Service and began taking samples of pine wood with a special drill. Something went wrong on another tree, and the drill broke inside the trunk. The Forest Service officers complacently allowed Curry to cut the pine tree - not to waste the same research.
When the graduate student counted the annual rings, the hair of everyone present stood on end - it turned out that Prometheus had hit the saw.
After that, the Inyo Forest was quickly turned into a nature reserve, and its employees were strictly forbidden to disclose the whereabouts of Methuselah to anyone.
The most accurate thing that can be learned about this is the location of the grove itself. Through it leads the so-called "Methuselah Trail" about 4 miles long. Hundreds and thousands of pines grow along it - and everyone is free to try to guess which one is Methuselah. If you catch and interrogate with passion a local employee, then he may admit that the sought pine tree grows at an altitude of 2900-3000 above sea level. Which will not greatly narrow the geography of searches.