I'd never noticed these flowering trees before this Spring and had no idea what they were.
I posted some of the shots I took yesterday to facebook last night and a lovely friend of mine from high school that now manages a nature conservatory enlightened me.
Its Paulownia, or princess tree. I looked it up on Wikipedia, and found out that its originally from Asia but named after a princess from the Netherlands. Traditionally, one was planted after the birth of a daughter, then the wood was harvested and made into a dresser as a gift for her wedding. They are very fast growing. Here's a closeup of one of the blooms that fell off.
The tree was very tall. The fallen blooms were then only ones I could get close to. This is a branch after the blooms are spent and the seed pods opened and dried.
They are often used to reclaim areas of deforestation and are great for places with poor soil. This would make them beneficial where mountains have been strip mined. After reading up on them, I think this tree is probably very helpful to our area and I can see how they made their way here.