It had a good run, that sycamore tree.
For nearly 300 years, it has stood watch over the north fork of Indian Run.
Yet a single lightning strike was all it took to cripple what the locals say is by far the largest and most majestic sycamore in Dublin’s 56-park, 1,400-acre public recreation system.
The tree, just north of the water tower at Avery Park, will have to come down. It’s cordoned off now, and a portion of the walking trail that snakes through the park is closed. The situation is too precarious to take chances, said Fred Hahn, Dublin’s director of parks and open spaces.
The tree was hit by lightning during a severe thunderstorm on the evening of March 18. Washington Township fire crews responded to a call of “a smoking tree.”
Crews arrived to find that the sycamore, with its nearly 8-foot-diameter base, was hollow and the fire was inside. They pumped water through holes already in the tree, but that didn’t work.
Hahn said they decided to just let it smolder for days, hoping the fire would burn only the already-dead wood inside and that perhaps the tree could be saved.
But no luck. The interior temperature of the tree topped 1,100 degrees; the bark still registered 450 degrees days after the strike. All the stress proved too much, and its massive limbs began to heave. One snapped, then two. Then another and another.
By Friday, parks officials knew: The tree would have to go.