In the end, this seemingly invincible Oregon Heritage Tree, having endured the tests of time for 250 years, could not survive a Saturday morning.

The once majestic Hinds Walnut tree, one of more than 50 such heritage trees in the state, collapsed Saturday morning across Oregon Highway 138W near Yellow Creek Road about 12 miles northwest of Sutherlin.

The force of the impact from half of the tree that fell was enough to crush a guard rail.

Nobody was injured, and traffic was detoured onto nearby Bullock Road for more than three hours while crews removed a standing portion of the tree and cleaned up the mess.

Oregon Department of Transportation crews were notified at 9 a.m. Saturday that half of the 103-foot-tall tree fell onto the road. Darrin Neavoll, District 7 manager for ODOT, said crews removed the remaining portion of the tree because of safety concerns.

“We didn’t feel comfortable leaving it there because it was rotten,” Neavoll said.

Neavoll said he doesn’t recall another historic tree falling like this in his district.

“It kind of shocked us,” he said.

The tree, once measuring 20 feet in circumference, is listed as a Heritage Tree on the Oregon Travel Experience website.

It’s known for its size, age and that it was not native to Oregon, according to the website. A Heritage Tree Committee weighs nominations based on criteria including tree health, accessibility to the public and historical significance.

Mike Henneke is the news editor for The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4208 or by email at

Follow him on Twitter @ihenpecked.

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News Editor

Mike Henneke has been working in newspapers for nearly 30 years. Dad of 5 kids, send more snacks.

(3) comments


250-year tree??? Not native! Who planted. The indians?? Or, the birds.


All living things must eventually die or come apart. That is why it is nonsense to let old growth timber die instead of harvesting and letting the young take over to grow old. It is the circle of life, remember?

Umpqua RV

[innocent]RIP Hines Walnut... We were there too and there was nothing the State tree experts could do for it. It was sooo rotten inside it was a sure gonner. It had already dropped one giant side off last week. We were all lucky no one was killed by the falling branch. -It had a good (protected) life. I'm grateful I got to see it while it was alive. Nature took it's course and it lived it's full life out.

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