Chestertown’s Tree City placard. Photo by Bill Minus.

Early on Monday, March 8, 2021, several large orange trucks converged on North Queen St. This had obviously been planned for some time.

Not halfway down the street near Church Alley stood a large American elm tree. I am not sure, but I have been told that this tree was one of the oldest in Chestertown. If that’s not accurate, it surely was one of the oldest. American elms can live to be over 300 years old. The largest grove known in this country is in New York’s Central Park and was planted in 1862. They are also a much appreciated tree on the Mall in DC.

The elm on Queen had evidently been deemed a danger and posed a hazard to citizens and property, says who? As far as ravaged by disease, says who? I watched all three days as the old lady came down. There were a few dead limbs high in the tree that could have been removed. They call it pruning. I even went so far as to make several trips to the dumpsite to examine the sections of the tree that had come down. I did not find any signs of disease. It was as solid as could be.

As far as the buckled sidewalk goes, an attractive wood walkway with railings could have been constructed over the buckled area for a fraction of the cost of the tree’s removal.

If the town policy is going to be the removal of trees whose roots are buckling sidewalks, then there will be few trees left on High St. and many other streets.

I couldn’t help but wonder why it was going to a dumpsite off John Hanson Road piece-by-piece. My hope is that there is a plan so that some of the wood will be saved–if even a few cross-sections or sawn into planks. If nothing more than to panel a wall at Town Hall or in The Historical Society building. If anyone is interested in acquiring any of the wood, they should call Town Hall.

The horse is out of the barn–the water is over the dam–and all I can say is it never should have been cut down. Just think what stories that tree could have told. It was a part of this town’s history–just as important as the oldest building or church. In my mind, even more important, because it was a living witness to history.

I did manage to save a few small logs, and plan to have my son turn bowls from them. The tree was so healthy that it will likely take a year or more to dry out before he can work on them.  A couple of bowls will be returned to Chestertown–maybe for the Library or the Historical Society. There is so much history in this town, I guess a 300-year-old tree just didn’t make the “save” list. What a shame!

What remains of the Grand Dame. Photo by Bill Minus.

Whoever ordered the tree removed should be proud.  Very few people can say they destroyed a living piece of history.

The light may be at the end of the tunnel–but Please keep wearing your mask.