South Shore Park’s Massive Copper Beech Is No More

December 2, 2017

By Jill Maher

—Jill Maher

A  county crew felled the last remaining sections of the old, immense European Copper Beech tree in South Shore Park on November 8. Furniture maker and musician Jordan Waraksa of Bay View was able to witness the felling after being alerted by a friend that arborists were onsite.

A county crew felled the last remaining sections of the old, immense European Copper Beech tree in South Shore Park on November 8. A much younger tree of the same species is growing near the site of the culled beech, near East Estes Street between South Superior Street and South Shore Drive. —Katherine Keller

“I come to this park all the time, and as soon as I saw this tree getting sick, I wondered what was happening. When I knew the (Bay View) Historical Society had made a plaque for it and it was in their historical records, I knew it was being taken care of…This tree has a lot of history here. The ones who carved their names in it are the ones I think of most. Their initials have grown and stretched,” he said. He also thought about what the tree meant to all the neighbors.

As reported in previous Compass articles, arborists from Milwaukee County Parks began removing the beech tree’s limbs August 9. According to crewmember Ellen Stollenwerk, they planned to work on removing the final sections of the tree on November 8 from approximately 8:30am to 1pm, and then move on to other assignments.

However, the tree had other ideas and the log loader, or “prentice loader,” strained and ultimately failed to lift the largest section of the massive trunk into the back of the waiting truck.  The crew left it on the ground overnight, where the trunk rested a few more hours on the land where it had grown since the 1800s. It was removed the next day.

“The remaining log sections were brought to our service yard in Wauwatosa. We are working with a local sawyer and the (Bay View) historical society to cut some sections, which will ultimately be used by the Bay View Historical Society, as well as the South Shore Friends group,” said Milwaukee County Parks Forestry Supervisor Gregg Collins.

A much younger tree of the same species is growing near the site of the culled European Copper Beech, near East Estes Street between South Superior Street and South Shore Drive. —Katherine Keller

Before it was felled, the tree was estimated to be 160 to 170 years old. Counting the rings in a cross-section of the trunk should yield a more precise age.

“Once they get a good clean cut, we will get an accurate ring count. We were very pleased to see that the main trunk had solid wood and very little rot or cracking,” Collins said.

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