EXPIRED: 01/19/10 – Herbie, 217, was New England’s largest and oldest elm tree, and has stood on the corner of East Main Street and Yankee Drive in Yarmouth, Maine, about 10 miles north of Portland, since – well – since before there was a corner of East Main Street and Yankee Drive.
Some say it was an assassination but others classify it as a mercy killing actually, as Herbie was a victim of Dutch elm disease. At 120 feet high, Herbie was one of the few remaining elms in the town that had resisted a deadly fungus that, according to the Elm Research Institute, nearly wiped out elms from the American landscape. The tree battled the Dutch elm disease more than a dozen times since the town’s first tree warden, Frank Knight, began taking care of it five decades ago.
Herbie, was felled before a crowd of onlookers. Frank was there with a tear in his eye. At 101 years old himself, it was hard to see the old guy go. Although many thought Herbie was 240 years old, once they cut him down and counted his rings, they settled on 212 years old.
Yarmouth, which has lost nearly 800 American elms to the disease in the last 50 years, is making segments of lumber from Herbie available to artists to make into crafts and wood products. The funds will help begin a Yarmouth Tree Trust that aims to replace Herbie and other lost elms with disease-resistant trees.
Talk about reincarnation!