Ohio's Millennium Grove exists largely because of the efforts of C. Duane "Whitey" Coates, a team of volunteers and the Chillicothe Tree Commission.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture Project

In the year 2000, the Clinton Administration's Department of Agriculture was searching for a project so that the 50 states could celebrate the new Millennium coming in January 1, 2001. The concept they came up with was this: Each state in the Union 100 trees that had historic ancestors. The states would receive five sets of 20 trees and each set would be planted in five different groves around the state. The plantings would be called, "Millennium Groves", to honor the new Millennium.

Ohio's Millennium Grove is Unique

It wan't supposed to be this way. Under the original concept, Ohio might have received 20 Golden Raintree saplings from the yard of Harriet Beecher Stowe which would be planted in a Millennium Grove in Cincinnati. Dayton might have 20 Eastern Cedars descended from those at Kitty Hawk where the Wright Brothers made their first powered flight. Chillicothe might have received 20 trees where the ancestor was at the Alamo because two brothers from Chillicothe were killed at the Alamo. Two other such groves would constitute Ohio's five Millennium Groves and the state's 100 trees.

After meeting with the Chillicothe Trees Commission (and the Commission agreeing to take on this sizable project), the Ohio Department of Forestry apparently decided to give all 100 trees to Chillicothe. The Commission asked Whitey to take on the project and, since he had the least tenure on the Commission, he felt he couldn't refuse. It was also "right up my alley" according to Whitey, who had decades ago led the construction of a new hospital. Coates also has a degree in Forestry and a lifelong interest in trees.

But no one passed the letter onto Whitey that instructed him to pick 5 trees and get 20 of each. So he ordered 100 trees from 100 ancestors that he thought would be interesting for Chillicothe and the state of Ohio. Whitey explains, "I submitted the order, which was an error on my part. Someone at the other end fulfilled the order−that was an error on their part". So Chillicothe has the only Millennium Grove in Ohio and it has 100 trees with historic ancestors.

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