240-Year-Old Elm Tree Gets The Axe Deconstructing The News:
YARMOUTH, Maine — The massive elm tree that shaded the corner of East Main Street and Yankee Drive was sick. Like so many others in so many of America’s towns in the 1950s, it was stricken with Dutch elm disease.
Tree warden Frank Knight was so smitten with the tree that he couldn’t bear to cut it down. After all, it had been standing sentinel in this New England village since before the American Revolution.
Over the next half-century, Knight carefully nursed the tree, spraying for pests and pruning away the dreaded fungus, even as the town’s other elms died by the dozens. As he succeeded, the stately tree’s branches reached 110 feet skyward, its leaves rustling in summer breezes off the Royal River and its heavy limbs shouldering winter snowfalls.
The tree, nicknamed Herbie and acclaimed as the tallest and oldest elm in New England, survived 14 bouts of Dutch elm disease in all, thanks to Knight’s devotion.
Now the disease ravages again and Herbie is too weak to fight back. Knight, now 101, said there’s nothing else he can do to save the tree he’s watched over for five decades.