Disclosure: I compiled most of the list.
It's also cheesy that the wiki list gives the size of the park reserve rather than the size of the actual old growth stand. The full article gives the much smaller size of 49 acres of remaining old growth forest rather than the 9,642 acres given in the list.
People estimate that the Michigan lumber boom was larger (in value extracted) than the California gold rush. They cut down almost everything.
Probably an overzealous editor. I haven't checked the edit logs for that page in years. Feel free to correct it.
What does discovery have anything to do with it? The article makes a different claim.
> What we now call “old-growth” forests are simply communities of trees that have been allowed to continue on undisturbed while most of the forest around them has been thinned or cut down entirely. In North America, even places that look thickly forested to us now are often full of relatively young trees, regrown on patches of land that were farms not so long ago.
I recently visited Cook Forest  in northwest Pennsylvania and it is breathtakingly beautiful. It's not just quantitatively different (bigger trees) but also qualitatively -- all towering evergreens in a very deciduous state. It's really sobering to think of how much we lost by clearcutting before we started to think about conservation seriously in the last 120 years or so.
I've hiked there a bit myself!
Most of my data came from Eastern Old-Growth Forests by Mary Bird Davis. She defined old growth as forests that were never logged or that are so old that there is no longer any evidence of logging.
The thing with many eastern forests is that because of either their species composition or their site conditions (soil, climate, etc), their trees will never get very large.
What I remember about the Smokies is that no one knew exactly how much they were logged, but the National Park Service estimated about 60 to 70 percent. Most of the remaining unlogged forests won't really have huge trees. In fact, some huge tulip trees that are popular hiking destinations are less than two hundred years old, while small hemlocks on ridges can be over three hundred years old.
I guess I was mostly thinking about the general conception a lot of people tend to have that when they go to something like a national park (particularly in the east), that it's been completely untouched by time, when in fact we had fairly indiscriminate industry and war that giant swathes of places that were only received protections in the early 20th century and beyond.
Oh, and if we're sharing pics of big/interesting trees I would be remiss to skip the road trip where I was fortunate enough to see fat trees, dead trees, and rare trees.
Then of course there's this article, "Vintage Photos of Lumberjacks and the Giant Trees They Felled"
Ming the Mollusk, the oldest clam ever found, was 507 years old, according to tests. But Ming died prematurely thanks to the scientists who determined the age.
Note the photo and think about counting 5000 age rings on a pencil (roughly the situation with a core) and I think it becomes clear that 'recorded' is an important part of it.
As for accidents with trees, the Ténéré tree (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ténéré_Tree), an acacia tree that was standing alone in the middle of the Sahara, is worth mentioning.
In the story linked above they didn't know for sure, they just knew it was the oldest they had found yet. From that article:
Now, Currey almost certainly didn’t fell the oldest tree ever. There are forests in the White Mountains, and elsewhere, where trees currently standing are probably far older than his Prometheus tree. We just don’t know about them.
And then beneath that an update proving that he hadn't knocked down the oldest tree after all...
Update February 10, 2016: Since this article was written, an older tree was identified in the White Mountains, California. The tree is also a bristlecone pine and is thought to be over 5,000 years old.
Research on this began in 1989, quite a long time ago. So there's been a lot of awareness for a while. Most of the web pages on Niagara Escarpment nature activities already mentions this old forest (one example is here: http://brucetrail.org/pages/about-us/the-niagara-escarpment).
However, you are right to worry -- apparently in this case the worry is that this area gets a lot of rock climbers, and there does seem to be a significant concern about rock climbing's impact on the trees (and other fauna). Yes, some actions are being done to protect them too. This article goes into some of the detail.
Nitpick, but trees are flora, not fauna, so that parenthetical should probably be stated differently, perhas as either "(and other flora)" or "(and fauna)".
One of the concerns was the impact on lichen for instance; I think lichen is neither considered flora or fauna.
Though I won't deny we have some gung-ho climbers who don't care. Those guys tend to be shunned by the climbing community and are the kinds of people who have and cause accidents.
That said, I believe rock climbing is forbidden @ Rattlesnake point and surrounding area where these trees I believe are located.