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.