A dead white pine that may have stood for 100 years came down in the span of about two hours Friday in Park Rapids.
Owner Judy Garden sat in the yard with her friend Sandra Walsh, watching as a four-man tree cutting crew took off limbs long enough to be tall trees themselves. The entire tree was probably about 50 feet tall.
“I’ve lived here 52 years,” said Garden. “It’s twice the size that it was when we moved in. I’m sure it’s at least 100 years old. I’m so sad that it’s dead.”
But it was, she added, very dead – as evidenced by the brown needles that covered its branches, contrasting with the green of the similar-sized pine next to it.
“We’re loggers,” Walsh said, meaning her family. “I’ve never seen a tree cut from the top down, because we cut them from the bottom. When Judy said they were going to do this, I said I just had to see this.”
Garden voiced wistfulness about the possibility that, within a day or two, the neighborhood would forget the tree was ever there.
Cutting it down was a delicate business. The tree stood close to the front of Garden’s house, surrounded by decorative rocks and shrubs. There was only a narrow angle where timber could drop without crushing live trees.
Owner Ken Wittmann of Wood Krazy in Waubun climbed up and down the trunk, secured by a climbing rope and hauling a chainsaw that sometimes dangled from his belt.
During a break to drink a bottle of water and take some tension off his muscles, Wittmann said the longest time he has ever spent in a tree was 12 hours.
Aided by a man on the roof and two on the ground, he knocked off the limbs going up twice the height of the house. They used ropes thrown over higher branches to control the descent of limbs overhanging the roof, and to make sure the top of the tree fell at a safe angle.
While Wittmann’s workers picked up the yard and fed cuttings into a wood chipper, he secured two lines to the grapple at the front of a skid steer. He sawed through the base of the trunk as the skid steer backed away, keeping tension on the ropes to ensure the trunk toppled the right way. Garden and Walsh applauded when it did.
Garden said she is having a sawyer cut up the lower 15 feet of the trunk, hoping she and her husband will get a nice, long dining-room table out of it.