Whitepine down

When we first considered building our current house in the country, what struck me about the site was this tall white pine along the property line. The woods around northern Minnesota’s Iron Range once teemed with some of the largest white pine in North America, a fact that literally put the place on the map as loggers, then miners, then tourists poured in from places with smaller trees. The biggest white pines were harvested away, building up many late 19th, early 20th century homes in Chicago and other Great Lakes cities. A combination of disease and habitat now limits the growth of most white pines from ever reaching the species’ historic heights. But here on our land, a really big, pretty white pine towered above the collection of balsam, basswood, poplar, maple and other common Itasca County foliage. For me this was one of the signs that this was the right place for us.

Well, we cleared the scrubby growth up to the edge of this white pine, built our house and went about the business of producing and raising our three boys in its shadows. We started to notice the top of the tree die off a couple years ago and then the birds starting picking it apart from top to bottom this summer. As more branches began drying up and falling off we knew that the tree was dead and would be a risk to fall on our house.

Last week a tree service came and cut down the tree. I love this tree. I didn’t want it to go, but it had to.

I had them cut four rounds out of the only marginally usable wood left on the tree. I’m going to make them into clocks, because lately I’ve been contemplating the steady passage of time.


  1. That would make us sad as well. We have a tall red pine that somebody planted, probably in the 50’s. They don’t normally grow here. We love that tree and this year, I looked up some old pictures to see how much it has grown since we came here. It probably doubled.

    We’ve had to take down a few trees, first before our house was built, and then, a few years ago, because we realized that three monster aspens were actually leaning over my bedroom. In all the cases where we’ve chosen to take them down, the wood was solid. We’ve killed the trees, I guess, prematurely. So many in the woods just die of natural causes.

  2. You should plant another one in its place.

  3. John Kendall says

    On our family property in Mt Iron, I’ve planted over 1,000 Red Pine, 50 White Pine, 500 Maples, 500 White Birch, 500 Spruce, and 50 Red Oak. My grandfather purchased the land over 100 years ago and we cherish the place.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.