One of Hamilton’s most noted trees — possibly standing when Fort Hamilton was completed in 1791 — was cut down recently after one of its large branches fell.
The Northern Red Oak stood at the site of Fort Hamilton itself, now the site of the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers monument and a historic cabin, just southeast of where High Street meets the Great Miami River.
Dave Bienemann, Hamilton’s municipal arborist and utility forester, said after a large branch that itself was the size of some trees fell from the oak, he thought it was beyond saving, given that it was in a public place and created a hazard. He had Davey Tree Expert Co. provide a second opinion. Brown’s Tree Service concurred, and did the removal for about $2,900, said Steve Timmer, director of the Hamilton Parks Conservancy, which maintains parks and public areas.
“When I looked at it, and I knew where the damage was, it’s a part where most of the major branches connect, and it was structurally damaged,” Bienemann said.
“It was a great tree,” Bienemann said. “It was 61 inches in diameter.”
Based on that, he estimated the oak was between 180 and 240 years old, dating it to between 1777 and 1837.
“It was a large portion of the tree,” Bienemann said. “It was almost like a tree in itself. Where it broke was probably from rot in there, for whatever reason, some prior damage, and it could have taken over the years for that to get in there, and there’s decay, and then it finally went.”
Hamilton resident Dave Duricy, who had taken photos of the damaged tree, was disappointed to see its removal, in part because of the tree’s beauty. Duricy wonders whether more could have been done to spare the oak.
“It was a very large and beautiful tree,” Duricy said. “When a beautiful thing is lost, it’s lost forever.”
Timmer, noting the tree is in an area where people walk and picnic, said safety concerns ruled.
“There were no other options, but to take it down, which I hated to do, not only from a budgetary standpoint, but it was such a beautiful tree,” Timmer said. “But if it comes to somebody getting killed, there’s no other option.”
There are various plans for the cut-down tree and the space it left behind.
Parks officials are looking for ways to “recycle” the tall base of the tree, perhaps into benches or other uses, he said.
Timmer has contacted Hamilton’s garden club, asking what could be planted in the area to make the park look whole again.
“I mean, you can’t replace a tree like that. It’s impossible. But you know how in Washington, D.C., they have all the Japanese blossoms in the spring? Maybe plant five or six trees like that so we have a big color array in the spring, or do something like that, that could happen quick,” he said.
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