It has come to my attention that the Douglas fir has in rare conditions reached heights of 400 to 480 feet in the past. Basically upwards of 95% of the best sites of old growth firs have been long since been logged, so chances are we will never see trees this large for hundreds of years -- if ever again.
Some of those are documented here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzaJ46d3ycA
And an ongoing research project on my part has documented just a few of these mighty tree specimens:
Historically Reported Douglas-Fir Exceeding 300 and 400 Feet
300 Oregon City, OR, 1850. Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society – pg. 207, 1916.
300 “Douglas fir trees were cut on the site of the city of Vancouver 300 feet in height and 11 feet in diameter.” The Encyclopedia Americana By Scientific American, inc 1903.
300+ William Clark, March 10, 1806. 39 feet girth, 6 ft above ground, estimated 200 feet to first limbs.
300+ "At the Pan-American Exposition there was on exhibition from Snohomish County a section of a fir tree which had been considerably over a hundred yards long and two hundred feet to the first limb. It was 920 years old and scaled 75,000 feet of lumber." - Pearson's magazine, 1905 pg. 113.
304 Jedediah Smith Redwoods State park. 13.5 dia
305 Woss Lake on northern Vancouver Island. 18 ft diam.
305 NW CA. 2007
300c. Est. orig. ht of Clatsop Fir, Clatsop, OR. Blown down 1962,- 200.5 ft to broken top 4.5 ft dia. Breast ht diam 15.48 ft.
306 W of Roseburg, OR. Esquire-The Wrestless man. 2004
307 Finnegan's Fir, OR. Blown down 1975. Officially listed at 302 ft.
309 British Columbia, displayed at International Exhibition. By Aeneas McDonell Dawson –1881
311 9 feet diameter.—Housing By National Housing AssociationPublished 1935.
311 9’4” diam. 50,000 board feet, 434 years old, cut in Washington State, Aug. 16, 1926. Spirit of the Lakes by David K Peterson, 2004.
311 Aberdeen, Wash. 1929 Appleton Post Crescent
312 Felled in 1886, Georgia St. Vancouver, BC – [Vancouver Art Gallery] Fir tree measured 13 feet diam at breast height, and 4 feet in diam 200 feet from butt.
312 “The Hunters & Serjt Pryor informed us that they had Measured a tree on the upper Side of quick Sand River 312 feet long and about 4 feet through at the Stump.” The Journals of Lewis and Clark. April 5, 1806.
315 Skagit River, alluvial bottom.The Washington Forest Reserve by Horace Beemer Ayres, Geological Survey (U.S.) 1899. pg 295.
315 Coquitlam River watershed at Meech Creek, BC
316 A fir tree felled measured 316 feet to the top most branch. The Year-book of facts in science and art By John Timbs, 1860- Pg. 35
318 NW CA. 2007
318 A fallen fir tree measured by Lewis and Clark, Saturday, April 5th, 1806, not far from fort Vancouver [near Gresham]. Only 3.5 feet diameter. [Possibly Sitka Spruce]
320+ Est. orig. ht of Red Creek Fir, Vancouver IS, BC. 239 ft to broken top, diameter of broken top 2.95 ft . Diam at breast ht 13.9 ft
320 Koksilah Giant, British Columbia--blown down 1979 after clearcut.
320 Olympic Natl Park WA. 16 ft dia
320 James Irvine Fir -- Prairie Creek State Park/ James Irvine Trail, Cal.
320 “One of the wonders of the American forests is the fir tree of Puget Sound. The trees average 200 feet high, and some specimens have been cut that measured 320 feet in length and twelve feet in diameter at the base, with a straight and well proportioned log length of ninety feet to the first limb.” - The Canadian horticulturist: Volumes 5-6 – Page 94 Fruit Growers' Association of Ontario - 1882
320 "The size of the fir trees and the number growing upon given acres in good timber districts is almost incredible to residents upon the Atlantic slope of the continent. Trees often measure 320 feet in length, more than two-thirds of which are free from limbs." -Annual Report to the Commissioner of Agriculture for the year 1878 pg. 539 - by United States Dept. of Agriculture - 1879
321 Humboldt Fir -- Prairie Creek State Park, Cal.
321 Cathcart, Wa. -- The Washington Forest Reserve by Horace Beemer Ayres, Geological Survey (U.S.) 1899. pg. 300
321 "Thus, of yellow-fir (Abies grandis) two sections were shown taken from the same tree, the first six feet ten and a half inches in diameter exclusive of bark, taken "one hundred and thirty feet from the ground;" the other five feet ten inches, taken "two hundred feet from the ground," with the statement that the tree was three hundred twenty-one feet high, fifteen and three-quarters feet in diameter at the butt,..." International Exhibition, 1876 By United States Centennial Commission pg. 6, 1880.
322 Near Eugene Oregon, NE of Lowell. A 500 yr old grove of Douglas Fir averaging about 300 feet in height. The tallest measured at 322.—Moon Oregon, pg 202, by Elizabeth Morris, Mark Morris. 2007
324 Chehalis, Lewis Co. Wa. Oak Tribune 1934
324 Wa--900 yr old, Times Recorder, Nov. 1935
325 Stanley Park, BC 1916, 10 ft diam. Felled for safety reasons.
325 Douglas Fir in Stanley Park, BC, Toppled in 1926, 800 years old.
325 "Fir trees two hundred and two hundred and fifty feet high, and six and seven feet in diameter, are seldom out of view in these forests; eight and ten feet in diameter and three hundred feet high are not at all uncommon. Trees of fourteen and fifteen feet in diameter are not difficult to find, and a fallen tree near Olympia measures three hundred and twenty-five feet in length, and another, at a distance of ninety feet from the root, measures seven feet in diameter." - Annual Report of the Commissioner of the General Land Office to the Secretary of the Interior - Page 73 by United States General Land Office - Public lands - 1867
325 Skagit Co. Wa. Illabot Creek, 5 miles east of Rockport, 1910. 10 ft diam. Measured as a fallen tree on the property of Henry Martin.
326 Queets Valley, Washington 1988. 6.7 feet diameter.
328 Sedro Woolley, WA 1906. 17 ft diam
329 Brummet Creek Tree, 4.4 ft diam c. 1950, blown down.
330 According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Technical Bulletin published in October, 1930, there is a standing Douglas Fir near Little Rock, Washington, which is 330 feet in height, with a diameter of approximately 6 feet.
330+ Est orig. ht of tree, from mast 304 feet tall 28 in diam at butt, 12 in diam at top single Douglas Fir spar used as Radio mast in Portland. Sagas of the Evergreens, By Frank H. Lamb, Published 1938.
330+ Elma, Wa. A felled Douglas fir, 5 feet 2 inches in diameter was cut into seven logs each 40 feet long. The tree was 221 years old according to ring count. - Monthly bulletin By Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen. 1918, pg. 21.
330+ Spar fir tree 275 feet tall. - Chronicle Telegram, Feb. 14, 1921 pg. 2.
335+ Spar fir 285 ft tall. - Ironwood Times, The, Mar. 9, 1923 pg. 1.
335 - "It may not be generally known that many specimens of fir found on the shores of Puget Sound equal in height the infamous giant Sequoia or "Big tree" of California, for firs have been cut down which were over 325 feet in length from topmost branch to the edge of the cut, not including eight or ten feet of the trunk left standing above the roots." - Engineering In The Logging Industry In The American Pacific Northwest - Cassier's Magazine Vol. XXIX April, 1906 No. 6
339 Toledo, Ore – spar tree 214 ft tall 34 inches at cut, severed section was 125 feet.
339 Doerner Fir [Brummitt Fir], Coos Co. OR. 11.5 Dia, est. 500-600 yr old. 339 ft to lowest portion of trunk.
340 - Puget Sound, 42 ft around. Over 79,218 board feet, age 300 years 340 feet high. Spring of 1904 Mccormick Lumber Co. Lewis Co, WA Sent to St. Louis Exhibition.--The Indian Forester - Page 320
340-50 – A Washington yellow fir tree 7 feet 11 in diameter and 340 feet long – The School Journal, Published 1893 E.L. Kellogg & Co. pg. 85 [This tree was also described as 350 feet in total height: Chicago: Its History and Its Builders--Josiah Seymour Currey, 1918 . pg 78]
340 6 km N of Cloverdale, BC. Felled by loggers in 1917, Measured by Dr Al Carder and father as a boy.
347 Astoria, Oregon Douglas Fir cut for flagpole 251 feet tall, Panama-Pacific Exposition.-- Pamphlets on Wood Preservation, 1900-1915, University of California.
348 “Forest Service records a Douglas Fir with a measured height of 380 feet, and I, personally, have seen many over 300, one 348.” By Joseph T. Hazard, Pacific Crest Trails from Alaska to Cape Horn--1948, pg. 64
350 Mossyrock, Wa. 1939 A fir tree 350 feet tall, and 11 feet in diameter was felled and sent to Olympia. It scaled 40,000 Board feet – Centralia Daily Chronicle, July 19, 1939, pg. 1.
350 “Recently a log from one these fallen firs was taken to Washington, where it was on exhibition, It was part of a six hundred-year-old tree which had attained a height of 350 feet. The log weighed 60 tons and will furnish 16,690 feet of timber.” Ireton Ledger, Sep. 5, 1935 pg. 3
350 "Tallest Tree in State," 350 ft tall, 16 dia. - Sedro Woolley, Wa. 1902. Darius Kinsey photo collection – Kinsey photographer, 1978 —pg. 152-153
350 “Many trees, each over 280 feet tall, have been measured about Blaine [Wa]. Others in that vicinity and elsewhere reach to a height of 350 feet. There are without doubt large numbers of trees in Washington over 300 feet high.” – Forest Leaves – pg. 162 by Pennsylvania Forestry Association, American Forestry Association, 1890.
350 - "In Skagit County is a forest of Douglas pine and white cedar in which there are many trees reaching 325 feet high, and some of them are fully 350 feet high." Forest Leaves - Page 162 by Pennsylvania Forestry Association, 1922.
350+ "The trees of our forests, owing to the favorable influences referred to, are of rich, dark green foliage, rapid growth to enormous proportions, commonly from 3 to 6 feet in diameter, 350 feet high, sometimes more, and 185 feet to the first limb. This I state from actual measurements from trees prone on the ground." Fifth Biennial Report to the Board of Horticulture – Oregon Board of Horticulture,1898 pg. 545
350 Trees from 250 to 350 feet high are common sights. A fir tree recently cut near Clallam Bay was 13 feet in diameter at the butt, and a 100-foot log cut therefrom, which was seven feet in diameter at the top, scaled 84,100 feet of lumber. Report by Washington (State). Bureau of Statistics, Agriculture and Immigration - 1896.
350 c. Fir, Westholme, Vancouver Is. BC. Blown down 1913, 1500 yr old, 17-dia. 180 ft to blown top, and 150 ft to first branch.
350+ est. orig. Ht of Queets Fir, Queets River, WA. 202 ft to broken top 6.7 ft dia. Breast ht. diameter is 15.9 ft. Over 1,000 years old.
350 Est. Height. Fir cut down in King Co. Wa measured 9 ft in diameter at the butt, and 4 ft 8 in at the top, 186 ft long, and scaled 64,000 feet of lumber. – Report By Washington (State). Bureau of Statistics, Agriculture and Immigration, 1896. pg. 33
350+ Near Latourell, Oregon. An immense grove of giant firs situated in a protected flat surrounded by high bluffs, between Bull creek and the Hood river. Trees estimated at 350 to 400 feet high with circumference estimated over 60 feet at 3 feet above ground. Portsmouth Herald, July 18, 1900 pg. 5
350+ a "Douglas Pine" Dr. Forbes measured that was 320 ft to broken branches, and as thick as his waist where the trunk broke. He made out the average Douglas Pine ranged somewhat over 300 feet in height in British Columbia, based on measured trees. Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society Volume VIII, 1863-4.
350 "On the site of what is now Vancouver city--the present terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway--and in the neighborhood of that town, on Burrard Inlet, was a renowned group of these trees, and "many still standing around the city, are from 250 to 350 feet high and 12 feet in diameter at the base, or about 36 feet in girth," growing so close together that the trees almost seem to touch each other..." - The Wilderness and Its Tenants - By John madden 1897, pg. 168.
350 "There the trees, crowded close together, rise to a height of 300 feet; indeed, lumbermen report trees 350 feet high, with trunks 11 feet in diameter, free of branches for 200 feet, and with hardly any perceptible taper up to that height." - The Humeston New Era, July 26, 1916 pg. 4
350 "Firstly, it may be said that previous to the year 1885, the place now occupied by this city [Vancouver] was a wilderness of gigantic trees, some of them being fully twelve feet diameter a few feet above the ground, and from 300 to 350 feet in height, all of which had to be cut down and rooted out before a house could be built." - 3800 Miles Across Canada - By John Wilton Cuninghame Haldane 1908, pg 224.
352 Lynn Valley, N Vancouver BC, Felled in 1907, 9 ft 8 in diameter. 220 feet to lowest branch. This tree contained 16 logs of wood, 16 feet per log. Top 92 feet discarded. Height 352 feet including 4 ft stump. Details are recounted by historian Walter Mackay Draycott of Lynn Valley, BC.
355 “The tallest tree on record in Canada today is a Douglas fir in Strathcona Park on Vancouver Island. It is over 108 m tall.” -- Countdown Canada: A conceptual Geography study, By Alderdice, Roy, 1941-, Sled, George, 1941-, Vass, Ben, 1934- Published 1977 Macmillan of Canada
358 Cloverdale, Surrey, BC. Tallest Fir measured by a BC forester. Discovered in 1881 by William Shannon, while constructing Hall's Prairie Rd. Measured after being Felled, 1,100 yr old. 11.5 ft dia.
360 “The timber began to get larger and by the time we had traversed three miles into the trail we viewed countless numbers of gigantic fir trees growing not less than fifty feet apart and towering at least 360 feet into the air.” Deming Trail, Whatcom Co. Wa. Bellingham Herald - July 10, 1909
375 Vancouver Island, BC. - Mason City Globe-Gazette, Nov. 4, 1961 pg. 20.
300-400 The gigantic fir trees of Washington are often between 300 and 400 feet high, a single one sometimes furnishing 100,000 feet of lumber. To eastern eyes the stumps left standing look very strange. They are from five to fifteen feet high. – Newark Daily Advocate Sep. 27, 1889.
375 Est ht. [Astoria, Oregon c. 1846 ] “There was a monstrous fir pine that had been blown up by the roots, and it looked as if it had been down for many years. Some of the boys measured it and reported that it was twelve feet in diameter at the butt and three hundred and thirty feet in length to where it had been sawed off to make a roadway. It was eighteen inches in diameter where it had been sawed off ; so the boys concluded that it must have been about four hundred feet high.” -- Burr Osborn, Survivor of Howison Expedition to Oregon, 1846 -- Oregon Historical Quarterly - Page 361 by Oregon Historical Society - Oregon – 1913
380 Nisqually R. Wa, 1899/1900 measured as a fallen tree. Portion of top missing. Measured with steel tape by USFS ranger Edward Tyson Allen, one of the early technically trained foresters who was stationed in Portland, Oregon.
393 Mineral, Wa. Blown down 1930, 1,020 yr old. 15.4 ft. diam at breast ht. 6 ft. in diameter at 225 ft. Height measured by USFS Chief Richard McArdle in 1924 with steel tape and Abney level. 168 ft of blown top measured on the ground and recorded in 1905 by Joe Westover, land engineer from Northern Pacific Railway, and measured again by Leo Isaac in 1924-25 at 160 feet. The tree and blown top was measured in 1930 by Jesse Hurd, superintendent of Pacific National Lumber Company’s operations in Mineral. A section of this tree still resides at the Wind River Arboretum, Wa.
350-400 “It is, however, the fact that the trees cut in the Oregon region are generally young and of small size, while those cut in Washington, especially by the mills along the South Bend branch of the Northern Pacific Railway are giants, many of them being from 350 to 400 feet in height, and from five to fourteen feet in diameter.” --Telephony: Volume 61 - Page 183. Harry B. McMeal - 1911
400 “In the typical fir forests, the trees, crowded close together, become very tall, two hundred fifty to four hundred feet high, and sometimes eight to twelve feet in diameter.” The Pacific Monthly by William Bittle Wells – 1903 pg. 345
400 "The maximum height known is nearly 400 feet; the greatest diameter of the stem is 14 feet. Can be grown very closely, when the stems will attain, according to Drs. Kellogg and Newberry, a height of over 200 feet without a branch." - Select Extra-Tropical Plants Readily Eligable For Industrial Culture Or Naturalization, With Indications Of Their Native Countries And Some Of Their Uses. - Baron Ferd. Von Mueller, 1884 pg. 268
400 "From the Cascade range to the Pacific, compromising about one-half of Washington Territory, the surface is densely covered with the finest forest growth in the world. Some of the trees, straight as an arrow, are four hundred feet in height, and fourteen feet in diameter near the ground." -- Resources of the Pacific Slope: A Statistical and Descriptive Summary... By John Ross Browne 1869, pg 574
400 “Here, too, it reaches its greatest dimensions, it being claimed that about the base of Mt. Rainier there are trees [Douglas Fir] over 400 feet in height.” The American Naturalist 1899 by American Society of Naturalists, pg. 391
400 “In its native habitats, the Douglas fir varies considerably in dimensions. In the forests of Washington State it often reaches a height of 250 feet, with a girth of 36 feet. There, trees so high as 300 feet have been seen. These trees are therefore more than twice the height of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square and would even over-shadow the Boston stump. Trees even much loftier than this have been seen, some of them almost reaching the height of the Spire of Salisbury Cathedral which is a little over 400 feet. Specimens have been known to be more than 750 years old.” Trees in Britain, By Lionel John Farnham Brimble, Macmillan, 1946 – pg 98.
400 “These forest giants are only surpassed in size by the California red-wood trees, of which we have heard so much. Some of them grow four hundred feet high and fifteen feet through, single trees yielding eighty thousand feet of sawed lumber.” - Our native land By George Titus Ferris, 1882, pg. 130.
400 Fir tree 400 feet tall. - Chronicle Telegram, Feb. 14, 1921 pg. 2.
400 c. 1908, "Robert E. Lee" tallest tree of Ravenna Park, Seattle, Wa.
400+ As it lay. Puget Sound, 1876 correspondence from Mr. Sproat to Robert Brown, Book: The countries of the world.
400 Kerrisdale District, S Vancouver, BC. Felled in 1896. Julius Martin Fromme superintendent of Hastings Mill, says it was the largest Fir ever received by the Mill at almost 400 ft long. Bark up to 16" thick. 13' 8" butt diam.
400 Allegedly logged by MacMillan Export Company, Copper Canyon, Vancouver Island, BC. date unknown.
400 1893, a “Red fir” in Chehalis County, Wa. 400 feet high, and nearly 54 feet in circumference 6 feet from the ground. – Gettysburg Compiler, Mar. 4, 1893. pg. 4.
400+ 1909, a Giant fir tree over 400 feet tall East of Seattle, Wa. Located on western slope of Cascade Mountains, 17.8 ft diam, 18 inches above ground. - The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, Nov. 29, 1909 pg. 10. & “Coast and Mountain News.” Western Lumberman, Jan. 1910. pg. 16.
412 Felled near Tacoma, Wa. and measured 412 feet in length “Which Is the Biggest of Them All?” MacMillan Bloedel News, Vancouver, B.C., Nov. 1970, pg. 6.
415 Lynn Valley, N. Vancouver B.C. Felled in 1902 by the "Tremblay Brothers" at Argyle Rd off Mountain Highway (Centre Rd) on the property of Alfred John Nye who measured the felled fir tree at 410 feet long, and 5 feet tall at the stump where the diameter was 14 feet 3 inches, and bark 13.5 in thick. Details are recounted in correspondence between historian Walter Mackay Draycott, and Mr. Alfred John Nye, both of who lived in Lynn valley, B.C.
450+ "...and the Douglas Spruce, one of the most valuable timber trees on earth, becomes in Oregon and Washington the tallest trees known, 450 to probably 480 feet high!" - How to tell the trees and Forest Endowment of Pacific Slope By John Gill Lemmon, Sara Allen Plummer Lemmon 1902, pg. 13.
465 1897 A fir-tree cut down at Loop's Ranch Forks, Whatcom county, Washington, was 465 feet high, 220 feet to the first limb, and 33 ft 11in circumference at the base and scaled 96,345 feet of lumber. Ring count showed this tree to be 484 years old.– The New York Times, Topics of the Times, March 7, 1897, The Overland Monthly, 1900, pg. 329, The Columbia River Empire by Patrick Donan, Oregon-Washington Railroad and Navigation Company, 1899, pg. 68, & Meehans' Monthly: A Magazine of Horticulture, Botany and Kindred Subjects Published by Thomas Meehan & Sons, 1897.
480 Douglas-fir felled at the southeast slope of the Black Hills, near Bordeaux, Wa c. 1930. It was situated in a south facing valley with high ridges on either side. This tree was measured on the ground with steel tape by loggers at 480 feet in length, and 12 ft in diameter at the butt. – Personal communication.