Sometimes it's true .... money really does grow on trees...

Washburn's former state record Lombardy Poplar comes down

The Daily Press September 28th 2007

100 year old giant tree removed

Staff Writer

WASHBURN - For as long as anyone can remember, Washburn's giant Lombardy Poplar has been a downtown landmark along Bayfield Street. It has been admired by generations of Washburn residents and visitors for its great height - approaching 100 feet at its prime - and its massive 14-foot girth. Located next to the Washburn Dairy Queen, the tree was honored as a state record by the Department of Natural Resources' "Champion Tree" program, an honor attested to by a sign next to the tree pro-claiming its vital statistics. Long-time Washburn resident Jim Ledin recalls moving into a home in what is now the parking lot of the Dairy Queen, next door to the big tree in about 1936. "It was about 30 or 40 feet tall back then," he said. "It seems to me that there were two trees here at one time. Photographs taken during the early 1950s confirm that it was a tall, stately column-like example of Populus Nigra, cultivar Italica even then.

As the name suggests, the distinctive Lombardy Poplar originated in the Italian province of Lombardy, where they were valued for their elegant shape, rapid growing trait and ability to quickly form effective windbreaks and privacy screenings. In forest-poor Italy, the wood is even used as lumber, although it is relatively weak and rots easily. The tree originated as a sport, or mutation, of the black poplar, which is common throughout Europe, southwest and central Asia and northwest Africa. It is grown only as male clones of the original tree, meaning that it does not originate from seeds, but from cuttings of other trees.

According to Laura Ju beauty and rapid growth led them to become favorite ornamental trees in years past. However, she said, they ll, associate professor and extension specialist for woody ornamental species at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Lombardy Poplar's great have serious deficiencies that have caused them to be all but abandoned for urban forestry They are very, very prone to disease, especially stem canker," she said. "They seldom live more than 20 or 30 years before they die. Nobody in their right mind would bother planting them any more."

Washburn's champion Lombardy Poplar clearly beat the odds - the best guess is that the tree was well over 100 years of age when it died several years ago. "That is very old for one of these," Jull said. "That is unbelievable. In most landscapes, they don't live past 20 years old because they get canker."

Since the tree met its demise, it has been left standing - a sad, skeletal shadow of its former glory - until the City of Washburn ordered its removal. On Thursday morning, a crew from Kraft Tree Service of Washburn began the laborious process of removal, painstakingly cutting several 30- to 50-foot vertical branches, one at a time. Standing some 20 feet off the ground in the crotch of the tree, the chainsaw-equipped sawyer undercut a notch In each of the branches before slicing through the branch on the opposite side. It was tricky, dangerous work. There was an ever-present threat that a branch could "kick back" and strike the chain saw operator if he didn't make his cuts with skilled precision.

Sawyer of Kraft Tree Service admitted that the job was a challenge. "It's so dead on the top, you have to watch up above and make sure nothing is breaking off and coming down," he said. He observed that the tree had been dead so long that it created other problems. "It's hard to climb, because the bark just peels right off," he said.

Meanwhile, safely out of range, the rest of the crew manhandled a rope looped around the tops of the branches, pulling the branch in the direction they wanted it to go away from a nearby building and into a grassy area next to an empty parking lot. The operation went off without a hitch. Roger Kraft, co-owner of the tree service, said the tree had been a landmark since he was a boy. "I guess we are making history today," he said. "It's too bad, because it was a neat tree." Kraft said he was thankful that there was no wind Thursday morning. "You don't need a lot of wind when you are trying to bring down a 100 foot tree," he said.

Kraft said he had been removing a large number of Lombardy Poplars in recent years. "They just seem to die quickly," he said. By mid-morning, the tree was greatly reduced; the bottom 20 feet or so are being left in place at property owner Larry Zienty's request. Kraft said he had plans to use the trunk of the tree to have a carving made. The' removal of the old tree marked the end of whatever status remained for the former state champion Lombardy Poplar. According to the Department of Natural Resources Web site, the current state champion tree is an example located in Door County. That tree measures a relatively modest 60 feet in height. Several Washburn area residents watched the proceedings, somewhat sorrowfully. "It's been a good tree for many years," Ledin said. "I hate to see it go, but it's all rotted out so it's got to come down before it falls."

Kraft Tree Service Tackles High Profile Tree Removal

At Kraft Tree Service, we are committed to staying on the cutting edge of technology within our industry. We are also constantly on the lookout for changes to strategies and tactics for tree removal, tree pruning and stump grinding. When it comes to MN tree services, our knowledge of the industry is second to none.

This approach has allowed us to tackle some of the biggest jobs in the industry. One of our projects even grabbed the attention of local media in Washburn. After more than 100 years of growth, Washburn’s giant Lombary Poplar’s life came to an end, leaving an unsightly and highly dangerous tree right in the middle of town. Kraft Tree was called in to remove the grand old tree, a project that presented several challenges. Below you’ll find an article detailing the Lombardy Poplar and the efforts we took to remove the dangers presented by this giant tree.

For experienced tree services within the west Twin City suburbs including, Minnetonka, Lake Minnetonka, South Lake Minnetonka, Excelsior, Shorewood, Wayzata, Deephaven, Chanhassen, Hopkins, Eden Prairie, Orono, Greenwood, St. Louis Park, Edina or Eden Prairie, call Kraft Tree Services at 952-406-8788 today.