For more than 200 years, one of New England's largest elm trees was tucked away on the corner of Yankee Drive and East Main Street in Yarmouth, Maine. It stood quietly on a hill in the small town, its branches stretching as high as 110 feet.
But just after 11:45 a.m. today, the tree was cut down, landing with a thump on the snow-covered ground below, losing a long battle with Dutch elm disease.
"Herbie's down," Marcia Noyes, director of Yarmouth's community services, said by phone this afternoon. "It was a remarkable process actually. It was pretty amazing to watch."
Near the end of the process, Herbie's long-time caretaker Frank Knight joined the crowd of residents gathered beside the tree. Knight, the town?s former volunteer tree warden, cared for the tree for over 50 years. He is now 101.
When Knight took up his post as warden, Noyes said, several hundred elms lined the streets in Yarmouth. After Dutch elm disease hit, Knight took it upon himself to help Herbie survive recurring bouts of the fungus.
"Without Frank, this tree wouldn't have made it these last 50 years," Noyes said.
She said Knight was attracted to the tree because of its size, grandeur, and age.
"In its heyday, it was quite a magnificent tree," she said.
Noyes said Knight was there Tuesday to help representatives from the Maine Forest Service count Herbie's rings. Although the tree was originally estimated to be around 240 years old, the group now believes it is 212.
A more precise age will be available when the stump is dried and sanded.
"Herbie's certainly a treasure here in Yarmouth," Noyes said. "Anyone who's from the area or near the area knows about Herbie. I'd say it's considered a regional treasure as well."
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