I was reading Pongi's post about his apple, posted in October (congrats, Pongi!) and it put in mind of a wonderful story from out here in the hinterlands...
In the tiny town of Peru (pronounced PAY-roo) Iowa, in the late 1800's, lived a Quaker farmer named Jesse Hiatt. He was a strict and orderly man, so when he found a chance seedling growing between the neatly ordered rows of his orchard, he simply cut it out. Stubbornly, it grew back, so he cut it out again. When it grew back a 3rd time, legend has it he said "If thee must grow, thee mayest grow."
About 12 years later, when it finally came to fruition, he thought the flavor of the apples was so good that he entered it in a competition in Missouri sponsored by the Stark Brothers Fruit Company. Mr. Hiatt's "Hawkeye" Apple won first prize, but the judges lost Mr. Hiatt's information, and were thus unable to contact him (no google searches back then). When he re-entered the following year, he won again. The Stark Bros. Co. pid him $3000 for the rights to propogate it (a princely sum back then - heck, today too!). Stark decided to call it the Delicious, the name it still carries today. Stark still owns the rights to an apple that, although it bears little resemblence to the original, is the most heavily consumed apple in the industrialized world. Efforts are underway here in Iowa to revive the original "Hawkeye," with flavor rather than shelflife or shippability as the primary motivating factor.
Iowa was once the nations' 2nd largest apple-producing state, and not behind Washington, but behind Michigan! This held true until an Armistice Day freeze in 1940 decimated the Iowa orchards. The expense of replacing orchards, the onset of World War II and the need to feed the troops combined to forstall any future glory for Iowa's apple industry. Toppled apple trees were replaced by corn and soybeans. Hiatt's original tree, still bearing fruit in 1940, was struck by lightning and split in two during that November storm.
Wouldn't you know it, Hiatt's stubborn tree sprouted right back up, like a Phoenix, from the center of that split tree. It still grows and bears fruit in Madison County, right near one of those famous bridges.