The Prometheus Story
Destruction Leads to Preservation
Counting later revealed that Prometheus contained about 4,900 growth rings, making it the oldest living tree ever found. Today, the oldest known living tree, is a 4600 year old bristlecone pine in the White Mountains of California. Count the rings for yourself in the Great Basin Visitor Center! A new permanent exhibit was installed in 2007 featuring a tree ring that was taken from Prometheus in the 1960s.
According to ancient Greek myths, Prometheus was an immortal who brought fire (symbolic of knowledge) to humans. Prometheus the bristlecone pine also imparted much knowledge to humans. Information gained by studying this significant tree added to the knowledge of carbon dating (which is valuable to archeologists and paleontologists) and climate data.
These ancient trees are now protected on federal lands, in part due to the public outcry over the loss of Prometheus. The researcher responsible for cutting down the tree later became one of the strongest advocates for the creation of Great Basin National Park.
Did You Know?
Precipitation patterns are highly variable in Great Basin National Park. The wettest year on record at Lehman Caves was 21.2 inches of precipitation in 1982 and the driest year was 7.4 inches in 1953.