A 500-year-old cross-section of the so-called “World’s Largest Ponderosa” in a Boise park will soon be no more.
“Unfortunately, the stump is decaying and has rotted from the inside,” Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway told BoiseDev. “Our team worked with an outside expert years ago to assess the stump and take measures to stop the decay, but those efforts have not been successful. We have been advised that the stump could fall apart at any time.”
Tree’s long history in life – and death
Workers installed the tree cross-section as part of the parks’ dedication in 1989. The Bureau of Reclamation and Frank Edwards of Donnelly donated the tree. It died after exposure to salt blocks.
In addition to Boise, sections of the tree went to Donnelly, Horseshoe Bend and Germany, according to Idaho Heritage Trust. Boise landscaper Hans Borbonus approached Albertsons founder Joe Albertson about donating a tree cross-section for the park, according to a Deseret News story at the time.
“He said, `Hans, go for it,’ ” Borbonus said.
The Donnelly cross-section still stands along Highway 55, according to a recent Google Street View pass of the site.
Markers on the cutaway show key dates in US history as they correspond to the tree rings. The oldest marker dates back to the 1620 landing of pilgrims at Plymouth Rock with the newest the 1976 Bicentennial. Key Idaho dates include the exploration of Lewis & Clark, the establishment of the Sun Valley and Teton Dam break.
“It will show when Columbus came, mention the wars and other important dates. It’s putting history together,” Borbonus told Deseret News in 1989.
The tree grew to 126 feet in height with a diameter of 7 feet 9 inches around.
Park’s evolving future
A permit application says crews will build a new pergola that will use part of the roof over the tree.
“As a part of the refresh at Kathryn Albertson Park, the roof that currently covers the stump will be repurposed and turned into a backdrop for photos and wedding ceremonies,” Holloway said. “The commemorative plaques will also be preserved.”
The changes are part of a large-scale revamp of the park ahead of its 30th anniversary. BoiseDev detailed the project earlier this year.