Former professional logger Frank Knight of Yarmouthwas a true nature lover who protected New England’s oldest tree for 52 years. Now the same tree has turned in to a coffin to protect his master who passed away this week. He is one of the most celebrated citizens of Maine.
Frank protected the 217-year-old tree known as Herbie and it was cut down in 2010 after succumbing to Dutch elm disease. From 1956, when “Herbie” and Yarmouth’s other elm trees were first being infected by Dutch elm disease, Knight became the unofficial warden of the tree.
With the extra care of Knight and other workers, Herbie was saved. The tree had grown a height of 110 feet but the years of fighting the fungus that causes Dutch elm disease had destroyed it. Therefore, the tree was cut down in that January 2010.
On that day Knight told the press that he hates to see the tree in this condition. And he added that he can’t mourn about it and felt grateful that he had the tree for so long.
The Maine Forest Service calculated the age of the tree by counting the rings in its trunk and concluded that it was planted in 1793.
Wood from the tree was crafted into a variety of ornaments, tables, kitchenware and other products that are available through the town of Yarmouth. The initial auction raised $15,000, and later this Herbie Project has raised more than $45,000. This money goes to the Yarmouth Tree Trust which plant new street trees in the town.
And now the 127 year old Herbie’s wood is used to make a coffin for the man who saved the tree for so many decades.
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