Typical of a Sycamore's growth habit, this tree's HOLLOW is located
at it's base. Children enchanted by the darkened, cozy chamber are
seduced to enter and stand inside it, and to test its echo factor.
Estimated to be 100 to 125 years old, the tree's lumbering size and
wizened limbs naturally lead many to marvel at its greatness, and
some to further speculate what spirits it might host. It is the kind
of tree that can spur such thoughts.
A mother recently showed Park Superintendent Joe Funk a photo of her
two children in the tree and what could be interpreted as a ghost
between them. They believed it so.
The tree is positioned in a space between the roadway and creek. It
serves as a greeter to a rustic nature trail along the creek, or to
even more secluded trails for those who would cross over the
It is a tree of great prominence in the park.
As happens with big old trees, it came time this year to make a
decision on how to manage the aging tree to keep park visitors safe.
Tree experts from Randy's Tree Service in Atlanta were consulted and
it was thought the tree could be saved for some years to come if
pruned back substantially.
Early one August morning, Randy's brought out a crew to do the tree
work and they were joined by park staff in the cleanup.
Funk said that the plan was to leave a few leader branches with
leaves with the hope that the strategic cuts will heal over and the
tree will send out new branches next year that will form a cap
keeping the tree alive. Funk says that even if the tree does not
survive, he plans for the trunk portion with it's hollow to remain.
Park 'shutter bug' Beverly Buhrmester has been observing and photo
documenting life at the park for decades. She enjoys the
peacefulness, the seasonal changes and all daily beauty found in the
Buhrmester says, "It would be impossible to determine the number of
pictures taken at that location, hundreds if not thousands. From
little ones having their pictures taken within the hollow entrance
to wedding, birthday, prom and keepsake photos in front of the tree
during all seasons and especially fall.
So of course, Buhrmester was on hand to photo journal Hollow Tree's
"Randy's Tree Service did an awesome job of trimming the tree with
the intention of saving the hollow entrance and the bear living
quarters (yes, if you look in the right place, there are bears).
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They also hoped saving as much of the tree as possible might give a
good chance for a re-growth of new limbs and flourishing in the
years to come," she said.
Buhrmester explained how the work was performed strategically, "They
worked from side to side to keep the weight distributed as equal as
possible to keep the tree from splitting or causing any danger to
It was quite interesting to see the procedure of using a rope and
pulley technique. The large limbs were roped and tied and when they
fell, they were lowered to the ground by the rope and pulley.
And she adds big compliments, "The cleanup crew worked tirelessly
from the time the first limb came down.
"There wasn't a leaf or limb left in sight by the time they left.
The only evidence they were on site was what was left of the once
beautiful iconic sycamore tree that now stood naked in the
[Jan Youngquist with photos by Youngquist and Bev Buhrmester]
Learn more about the American Sycamore 'Platanus occidentalis'