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Tree removed, amid protests, from Capitol

Tree removed, amid protests, from Capitol
Tree removed, amid protests, from Capitol
Townsend employees sweep limbs and leaves from the black walnut tree that was cut down Monday morning in front of the Old State Capitol Building in downtown Corydon. Photo by Ross Schulz (click for larger version)

Despite the efforts of a few peaceful protesters the day before, two trees ‘ a black walnut and an oak ‘ in front of the Old State Capitol Building in downtown Corydon were cut down Monday morning.
Ribbons and signs saying ‘Don’t cut me down’ were placed on the two trees near North Capitol Avenue.
Bec Riley, Corydon Capitol State Historic Site Cultural Administrator, said state officials made the decision to remove the trees because they were the cause of drainage issues on the front side (west) of the building because the gutters and drainage lines would back up and cause flooding.
Corydon Town Council President Fred Cammack said the state-run drainage, which is not owned or operated by the town, will probably not be enhanced by removing the two trees. He said town employees attempted to clear the lines a couple of years ago when asked by property managers but did not make it more than 10 feet.
He also said the entire clay pipe could have probably been replaced for the same amount of money it took to remove the trees. The clay pipe was good for the era it was put in, he said, but, over time, it becomes brittle and the pipe has probably either collapsed from age or a root has completely clogged it.
Bruce Beesley, vice president of Indiana State Museums and Historic Sites, relayed to State Rep. Rhonda Rhoads that the walnut tree was cut because of its size and could be a danger to the capitol building if it were to fall or blow over.
He said someone was sent to look at the trees and determined it was best to have the trees removed.
According to research, Beesley said the walnut tree was planted sometime in the 1950s or 1960s.
Corydon resident Nyla Smith, however, said she had a photo from the 1920s that shows the tree in the same location as it was Monday. The photo is in The Hoosier Elm Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution publication ‘General Guide to Points of Interests in Historic Corydon.’
Cammack said he thought the photo showed an elm tree, not the walnut that was cut Monday.
After viewing the trunk when it was cut, residents estimated 100 growth rings were visible. However, according to dendrochonology ‘ or tree-ring dating ‘ alternating poor and favorable moisture conditions, such as mid-summer droughts, can result in several rings forming in a given year.
A three-man crew from Townsend completed the job, which also included a dying tree on the far east edge of the property, Tuesday morning.
‘I just don’t see why they need to cut it down,’ Smith said.
She said many people were taking photos with the tree one last time on Sunday.
Callie Zimmerman of Corydon joined Smith and a few others downtown to watch the tree being cut and collected a few of the walnuts on the ground.
Other folks had the Townsend employees trim off small pieces of the tree for collector’s items.
Rhoads, who lives just north of downtown, said she tried to get Beesley and those involved to delay cutting the tree for a couple of weeks. She asked Townsend employees Monday morning if they were trimming the tree and was told that the entire tree was coming down.
An unnamed concerned citizen circulated a letter last week asking individuals to step in and stop the trees from being cut.
‘Most recently it was discovered by a few of the citizens that local state staff were quietly planning to cut down two walnut trees standing in front of the Old Capitol building,’ the letter said. ‘The trees are not being cut down because of bad health but because the staff do not like to pick up the walnuts and leaves.’
The wood from the trees was taken to a dump site near Old Capital Golf Club, Townsend employees said.
Information for this story was also gathered by staff writer Alan Stewart.