Studebaker Arboreal Sign planted in the late 1930s

The Studebaker Arboreal Sign in Bendix Woods County Park in New Carlislie, Indiana was planted in the late 1930s. The living tree landmark sign, especially visible from the air, spells out “Studebaker” in red and white pine trees standing over 60 feet tall.

Studebaker Arboreal Sign
Studebaker Arboreal Sign
Photo courtesy of St. Joseph County Parks

The landmark, created with over 8,000 6-inch red and white pine seedlings in 1938, spells out the word “Studebaker” from the air. The sign is about a half-mile long. In those days, the land was the Studebaker automobile company’s vehicle proving grounds. The sign was created as a salute to the growing aviation industry.

Studebaker was the first American car company to establish its own proving grounds in 1926, on a plot of land just west of South Bend. When Studebaker exited the car business in the mid-1960s, it sold the proving grounds to Bendix, which later split off 190 acres of the grounds – including the arboreal sign and the former Studebaker clubhouse – and donated that land to the county to create Bendix Woods County Park. Bendix has since sold the adjoining proving grounds and three-mile test track to Bosch.

The former clubhouse still stands and is used as a nature center. The arboreal sign and clubhouse are on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Studebaker tree sign earned a place in the 1987 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest living advertising sign. In addition to the Great Wall of China, the Studebaker living tree sign can be seen from space.

So, the next time you are flying over northern Indiana, check out the Studebaker arboreal sign just west of South Bend.

To find more about Indiana car culture follow this link.

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