Highland Park's Big Pecan Tree, which was cut down this week. (Photo via YouTube/KERA)

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Highland Park’s 150-Year-Old Pecan Tree Is No More

The town's most notable mascot was taken down this week after months of decline.

The Town of Highland Park’s monarch pecan had lived at Armstrong Parkway and Preston Road for more than 150 years. Officials tout it as the location of Dallas County’s oldest tree lighting ceremony, in 1927. About 50 years before that, a veteran of the Civil War came across the tiny sapling and nursed it back, a way to celebrate life after seeing so much death in the north.

At its height, it was 75 feet tall and 75 feet wide, but lately, after years of disease and decline, it’s begun to resemble a fist. Its limbs have curled inward or fallen off, its rich forest green colors have become scant. “The town is only 104 years [old] so there isn’t anybody around who can remember a time when the tree wasn’t in their view,” Mayor Margo Goodwin told KERA.

Our sister paper Park Cities People has covered this the last few weeks. In June, the Town Council set aside $27,000 for its removal, fearing that it was becoming too sick and had become a threat to property and people. Plans were set aside to bring the pecan down over three days, beginning on Monday. Tornadoes came, but the tree was a few miles south of their touchdown. It took just one day to bring it down.

William Taylor, my upstairs colleague, wrote about a notable visitor to the proceedings. It was Dale Cole Jenkins a “great, great, great granddaughter” of the Civil War veteran who “saved the pencil-thin sapling that would grow to become a beloved landmark. Town lore says that Joseph Cole, the son of the first physician of Dallas County, hand-watered the pecan tree “as a testament to life.” Legend has it that many years later, one of the developers of Highland Park, Hugh Prather Sr., was offered $1 million for the land that contained the pecan tree. Instead, Prather hired urban planner George Kessler to design a parkway to protect the tree. It’s stood near the northern entrance to the town ever since.

William says Jenkins stayed for six hours on Monday and came back Tuesday to watch the limbs get taken away.

“It was hard, but I didn’t shed one tear,” she said.

The wood apparently will be salvaged and used for something commemorative. RIP, Million Dollar Monarch.

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