When great trees fall…

Old white pine in front of Bearskin Lodge

Bearskin reluctantly said “Goodbye” to an old friend this week.  The immense white pine that stood by the front steps of the Main Lodge finally had to be removed.

For years Bearskin guests have been intrigued by the ever-widening hollow on the inside of the 150 year old tree.  A frequent guest, a man who is now the parent of college-aged children, recalls sitting on the lodge steps as a kid and tossing stones into the tree’s cavity decades ago.   It’s common to see families stopped at the base of the steps, peering into the arched crevice. Hundreds of pictures have been taken over the years of what had clearly become an “animal hotel.” Newcomers to our area would stand at the base of the tree, heads tilted back, gazing upward, and ask “What is this kind of tree?”  And of course, it was almost impossible to take a photo of the Main Lodge entrance without including the large old pine, and as a result it was a tree that played a featured role in many family vacation snapshots.

So it was with great reluctance that we discussed the recommendation from the local tree expert encouraging us to take this great pine down, before it fell down. Large old trees come crashing down all the time in our world.  Most of the time they just make a nasty mess, they don’t hurt anything.  But this one was a different story.  It was angled right towards the lodge.  If it fell, would we get lucky?  What if it fell on a guest?  Or someone in our family? Or the dog? Bob envisioned various schemes for anchoring the pine, all of which seemed to  involve fairly audacious and foolhardy feats of daring.   Ultimately the right choice was to cut it down.  No, actually the right choice was to have somebody else cut it down.

On Friday McMillan Tree Service of Grand Marais removed our big tree. You can watch a video that Alex Carlson took of the tree falling here. As you can see from the pictures, there was nothing imprudent or incautious about how professionals approached this project.  It was a big job.  Each piece crashed to the ground with an earthshaking boom, leaving no doubt in the minds of observers that if the tree had fallen on the lodge everything would have been thoroughly demolished.

5.16.14 white pine boom truck alex 5.16.14 white pine boom truck 2









The center of the tree truly was rotten. And it contained rocks.  Lots and lots of rocks, plus many other astonishing small items.  Cigarette butts were perhaps the most shocking. We agonized about the tree falling over, but it never occurred to us that we should also worry about some dimwit setting fire to it with a cigarette butt.

The front of the Main Lodge looks a little naked without its distinguished big white pine.  The lodge is surrounded by dozens of other white pines of the same age and size, but the tree’s location next to the steps and the tree trunk’s notable cavities and crevices made it a more memorable white pine.  It was hard to say goodbye, and it will be missed.

Do you have a picture that includes our favorite white pine?  Please share!

All that's left of the tree

2 thoughts on “When great trees fall…

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