Tree Sculptures - Museum Trees Transformed
By all accounts the two remaining cottonwood trees gracing the front entrance to the museum were huge. Fast growing, they dated back to 1880 and had sixteen foot circumferences. I’d guess you’d call that both a blessing and a curse. The trees were the tallest "thing" in Union. They attracted a variety of wildlife, shaded Heritage Fair visitors and pretty much impressed everyone who saw them. Ultimately, however, wind and lightening took their toll. One tree developed a dangerous lean toward West Harmony School while the other got struck by lightning so often that it was shattering in chunks. Sadly the Society had them chopped down in 2007 leaving 13-foot stumps.
This turned out to be a wise decision on our part because thanks to the creative carving artistry of Marengo carver Mike Bihlmaier, the trees are becoming public art. As shown by these photos Mike has sculpted books, local county history books that is, to represent the written record of our area. Some books have titles while others remain blank for history books yet to be written. I’d like to say that reaching a decision on the design was easy but that wouldn’t be correct. We had a committee. Nevertheless, Mike was able to take our numerous concepts, work with the imperfections of the stumps and produce something pretty stunning. At least that’s what all the interested sidewalk superintendents seem to think.