This week marks 10 years since the tree commonly known as "The Honking Tree," a white pine in the median near the end of the Two Harbors Expressway, was cut down by yet unknown culprits. The tree was earned its nickname due to a community tradition of motorists honking as they passed the tree while returning to the North Shore.
The tree, planted in 1902, was a lone survivor in the median when the Minnesota Department of Transportation constructed the four-lane expressway in 1959. Legend has it that Charlie Hensley, a MnDOT road inspector, requested the tall white pine be saved. In 1986, a story on the tree was published in the Duluth News Tribune about the tree's history, and 20 years later, it was nominated for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Trees. However, this designation fell through.
After surviving more than a century in the median, the 75-foot-tall tree was cut down by a chainsaw. A MnDOT employee discovered the fallen tree shortly after dawn on April 30.
MnDOT gave the fallen tree to the city of Two Harbors. While plans advanced for a larger memorial, 10 years later, it still hasn't been built. From the trunk, nine medallions were made out of one section, which can be seen in various places around Two Harbors including City Hall, the community meeting room at Two Harbors High School and the community center. Smaller medallions were made from the branches and were available for purchase at City Hall, with the proceeds earmarked for the memorial.
Do you have possible information about who cut down "The Honking Tree?" Contact the News-Chronicle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-830-2186.