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Crews topple longstanding Cottonwood

Definitely one of West Fargo's oldest, original landmarks is gone. The 60-foot-plus seedless Cottonwood tree on the former Allen Meyer property off of 13th Avenue South was toppled last Thursday for the sake of progress.

The tree had been around for as long as Allen could remember, guessing that it was planted sometime in the late 1880s or at least right before the turn of the century. His dad, Alfred, established the Meyer Guernsey farm, an elite dairy operation at that time, on the parcel in 1919, and Allen lived there since his birth in 1926.

Two-and-a-half years ago, Allen and his wife, Arlyn, decided it was time to move to a more convenient, one-story home, so they sold the property to West Fargo Dentist David Dobmeier for expansion of his dental facility and relocated to Fargo.

Once the expansion was completed and additional parking in place, Dobmeier sold the unused portion of the land to Russ and Kyle Handegard, who will be constructing a twin home similar to those already in the area. The tree needed to come down to accommodate this transition.

"The tree was as big then as it was now," Allen said about its original status as he could recall growing up on the family farm. "I remember that there were four trees in a row and this was the only one left now. It always seemed big to me, but it did get a little bit taller year after year."

Indeed, the tree appeared magnificent, the same distance around the crown area of the tree as it was tall. "They say the roots go out as far as the longest branch," Allen said. "I taped the trunk once and it was 17 feet 10 inches in diameter."

Walt Erdmann, owner of Walt's Tree Service of West Fargo, who downed the tree, said it wasn't the most difficult job he's ever tackled in his 30 years in business, but the tree was certainly one of the biggest and oldest he's ever had the privilege of removing. "Since we could fell the tree in one spot it wasn't as difficult a process as it could have been." Had they not had enough room to drop the tree at one time, Erdmann explained they would have had to cut it piece by piece with an aerial truck and haul it out that way. The trunk will still have to be extricated by the Handegards.

It took Erdmann and three employees about ten hours to complete the task, but the majority of that time was spent cutting up the wood and hauling it away. "When you have a tree that old, there's a lot of lumber, so it took a lot of time to cut it up," Erdmann said. Part of it went to an individual who will be using it to dry sand and the remaining pieces went to someone who will be using it as shop wood.

Allen wasn't there when the tree came down. He wasn't aware it was happening, but maybe just as well. "The tree had to come down for development," he said realistically. "I felt bad leaving it when we moved so I probably would have been afraid to watch it anyway. It was kind of a monument as far as I was concerned - one of the last relics - but life goes on. It was just part of progress, and I can understand they would have to cut it down."

"It's always disappointing when landmarks are gone. They talked about keeping the area for a park, but that didn't happen. Such is life. We are happy we moved into a one-level house. We needed to because of convenience and we are enjoying it!"