Local Man Commissioned To Do Carvings From Ancient Tree
When the oldest known tree in Minneapolis didn’t leaf out this spring, the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Department had some difficult decisions to make. After all, the Ancient Oak has been overlooking the Mississippi River Gorge for an estimated 333 years.
The tree is coming down, but will not be lost forever. A local man has been commissioned to do two carvings and a sculpture out of the wood of the tree, and the work will be displayed at the capital building.
Bob Haedt of Pine City, known by many residents as “Santa Bob,” has been given a rare opportunity. Haedt is a very talented wood carver and an “amature Minnesota historian” by his own account, and he will be merging those two loves for the benefit of Minnesotan’s.
Haedt says he will be carving “Minnesota symbols” including a loon, a walleye and also a sculpture out of the wood from the Ancient Oak. His specialty is allowing the grains of the wood to act as scales on fish or feathers on the birds he carves, thus the carvings are never painted. Bob also uses his own mixture of bees wax (he’s also a bee keeper), turpentine, and tung or linseed oil to protect the works.
The tree, located near Fort Snelling, was 44 feet high, measured 51.25 inches in diameter, and was 161 inches in circumference. Theodore Wirth wrote in 1941 in Minneapolis Park System that the tree could be anwhere from 150 to 700 years old based on the views of botanists of the day. The tree was a bur oak – Quercus Macrocarpa – and it is now estimated that it initially sprouted way back in 1677.
Haedt said he’s the “only one individual that’s going to get some wood from the tree,” and concluded by saying he was “pretty proud to be able to do this.” Haedt believes it will take him a couple of months to produce the works, but feels great when he thinks that something so old will now live on, in part, due to his handiwork.
Listen to Bob talk about this exciting development!