Although it is in plain sight just a few yards south of the Villa Chanticleer’s main building, many Healdsburg Eisenhower Tree visitors never see the majestic redwood tree famous for its size and completely hollowed center. It dwarfs the other trees surrounding it and upon entering its trunk, 1 can see blue sky through its center, one of the few completely hollow trees in the world.
One time referred to as “Old Stovepipe”, it has been officially named the “General of the Army Eisenhower Tree” in honor of America’s World War II military leader and 34th President of the United States.
The transformation of the tree from an ordinary redwood to a landmark is described by the Reverend Mina Ross Brawner, M.D., now of Australia, in a letter written in 1942. A pioneer resident of Fitch Mountain, she wrote, in part:
“Its top was so high that it seemed, when viewed from our home site, to pass the distant mountain and blend with the sky above…
Forty-six years ago I came home from school one day to find the big redwood on fire. Its open throat was roaring like a furnace. Mother told us that lightning had struck it. We could only stand on the hillside and watch the fire relentlessly burn the heart out of our old landmark. But another rainstorm came down, extinguished the fire, and the old tree was saved. Then suddenly, with a fearful crash and roar, the tree came down to earth. We rushed to the spot-mother and the 3 children who were at home. Quickly I returned to the cottage on the hill and secured the tape measure from mother’s sewing machine, a paper and pencil. Together we measured the huge pole lying like a giant submarine on the ground. It was ninety feet long. Carefully I made the notation, But, oh, what a surprise! On looking up the tree seemed to be as tall as before.
Softly I whispered: Old tree, I like your courage. You’ve lost your top and branches and ninety feet of your trunk. You are storm-torn and your heart is broken, but you still fling out your poor stumps of arms defiantly to the storms and sing your loudest in the hard winds. I like your fighting spirit, big, brave shattered old tree.”
The General of the Army Eisenhower Tree was dedicated Saturday, July 22, 1972 by the Honorable Don Clausen, member of the House of Representatives from the 1st Congressional District, at Healdsburg, California, U.S.A., under the sponsorship of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce.
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