It was time for the old tree to come down. And Monday morning, that's what happened.
For decades, the mighty oak that stood tall at the forking road in Riverside Cemetery added beauty to the gorgeous bluff where many have chosen to be buried in death.
It's leaves were once vibrant in the spring and summer, and in the fall it captured much attention with its magnificent foliage.
But it could not live forever.
For a few years now there was just nothing left of it.
The leaves stopped growing back, the branches began falling off with light wind gusts. It was time for the old tree to come down. And Monday morning, that's what happened.
With the help of volunteers from the Bethel Baptist Association, members of the Riverside Cemetery Board Association gathered to watch the tree come crashing down.
"It was the biggest tree we had up here. It really caused a lot of tension in the entry view. It could've caused road blockage and also damage to headstones," Max Capp, the cemetery association's vice president, said. "It was a major concern for the cemetery to get rid of it."
If it could talk, the giant oak could probably speak of the many funerals and burials it witnessed in the cemetery. It could probably recount the history of William Henry Hatch's procession, the number of honor guards that supported fallen troops and the somber day the final Cruikshank who had ties to the famous lumber company was laid to rest.
"It's probably been dead about the last 10 years," Capp said. "If that."
Yet the oak didn't go quietly.
Even after angles were cut in it so it would fall towards the top of the hill along the road to make the cleanup easier, she just wouldn't budge.
A long rope and some pull later, she was down. Her weakened limbs crumbled to several pieces as it hit the ground.
"Trees this size, you got to get pretty much through to the core of them. We were at that stage, it's so big around. Normally you make two cuts, one from each side, at differing angles so it actually falls the direction you want," Dick Kendrick, one of the volunteers on hand, said. "The angles weren't just meeting on this particular tree. When it's this big, it's really hard to pinpoint exactly where (the angles) are going to meet at. It was just taking a little extra persuasion in getting it to fall."
The crew brought down about 50 more trees along the hill side and Capp said the cemetery is now visible from Missouri 79.
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