Dale Cole Jenkins lives in Turtle Creek so it didn’t take her long to drive over to Armstrong Parkway and Preston Road to see her “family’s tree” taken down this week.
It also didn’t take long for the tree known as the Big Pecan Tree and Million Dollar Monarch to come down.
Town of Highland Park leaders had said Preservation Tree crews might take three days to remove the tree. By the end of the first day, the limbs were gone and a massive trunk was lying on the ground. Work was expected to continue through the week to remove the stump and clear the land around it.
Jenkins was there for six hours or so that Monday, watching the tree come down and again on Tuesday to watch limbs being hauled away.
“It was hard, but I didn’t shed one tear,” she said.
Jenkins describes herself as a “great, great, great, granddaughter,” give or take a “great” or two, of Joseph Cole, the Civil War veteran who saved the pencil-thin sapling that would grow to become a beloved landmark and site of the oldest community Christmas lighting ceremony in Dallas County.
Consulting arborist Micah Pace of Preservation Tree has overseen care of the 150-plus-year-old tree since 2016, but treatments were unable to reverse its continued decline and loss of canopy.
The Town Council in June agreed to his recommendation of removal for the tree and later budgeted $27,000 for that purpose.
Urban Timber Harvest will mill, kiln-dry, and store the recovered timber so the council can consider commemorative uses of the wood, depending on the quality and quantity available.
Town leaders were worried about the potential for much of the trunk to be hollowed out, but it appeared to look good. That means the council could have a variety of options to consider for use of the salvaged wood.
The town’s lighting contractor will decorate the nearby sister tree for the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec.5.