Mentone loses historical tree
March 9, 2016
Southern Torch (3740 articles)
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Mentone loses historical tree

Featured image: The tree at the Mentone Inn has greeted visitors at the top of the mountain for the last century


By Tyler Pruett

tyler@southerntorch.com

Mentone tree

The sugar maple on Monday before it was removed

Mentone tree

The tree contracted “maple wilt,” eating away at the root system and center of the tree

MENTONE, Ala— For almost a century, motorists traveling up Highway 117 from Valley Head have been greeted by a large sugar maple when entering the Mentone city limits. The tree is on the right, located in the yard of the Mentone Inn. Recently the Inn’s owner, Cynthia M. Stinson, was faced with a tough decision; either remove the tree that has become so much a fixture of the town, or try to save it, and risk it falling on the highway and cutting power to the entire community.

Eight years ago, a certified arborist diagnosed the large tree with Verticillium Wilt, also known as Maple Wilt. This disease spreads through the root system from a fungus in the soil. Due to this, the root system is the first part of the tree thats attacked. This large maple sits on a hillside, with the root system supporting most of its weight. While every measure has been taken to reverse the disease, it’s progressed to a point that makes the tree likely to fall.

“The center of the tree is hollow from the disease,” Stinson said. “It was not an easy decision to make, but for the safety of our guests and also traffic and power lines on 117… We have decided to remove it.”

Crews arrived on Tuesday around 10:00 am to begin the long process of removing the maple. Before beginning, the tree cutting crew contracted by Sand Mountain Electric tried to selectively remove dead parts of the tree in order to preserve it, but on closer inspection, they had no choice but to completely remove it. Later that afternoon, the crew would return to take the tree down.

Mentone tree

Mentone Inn Owner, Cynthia M. Stinson and contractor Steve Moore discussing ways to try to preserve the tree

The tree will be sorely missed, not only by Stinson and her family, but by the entire town. “It has been a landmark of the Inn for years, my children and grandchildren have played around it and have had many picnics beneath it,” she said. “There have been weddings held in the shade of the tree, and art shows on the lawn.”

While the tree may be coming down, it’ll still be put to good use. In true Mentone fashion, local artist will be repurposing the left over wood for their work. In many ways, the tree will remain in town, and will help contribute to its growth and continued reputation as a cultural hub.

As far as plans for the spot in the future, Stinson knows the landmark tree will be hard to replace. The maple has greeted visitors to the community for much of the last century.

“We plan to put more flowers, a rock garden, and a nice sitting area for our guest,” she stated. “The Saint Christopher statue will remain at the point to welcome travelers through Mentone.” through Mentone.”

Southern Torch

Southern Torch

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