Ancient local tree memorializes first president


In December 2012, Oncor removed a very large post oak on Heron Dr. just west of the Castle.  The tree was believed to be over 250 years old.  Wes Culwell, the owner and Board-Certified Master Arborist, had named the tree the George Washington Oak because he thought it had sprouted sometime when George Washington was a boy.  Wes has about eight of his large trees named based on their estimated sprouting dates.

He had negotiated with Oncor for about ten months over its removal to no avail.  All of the limbs that had to be removed were done first, but that left a fairly deformed tree with large wounds.  So, the decision was made for total removal.  Wes said “Oncor was great that day.  They provided a couple of extra supervisors and a Certified Arborist to help me along.  We had previously had a couple of heated encounters over this, so they knew this was a difficult thing for me.”

Wes had already been considering some type of memorial, but no decision had been made.  The tree divided into two major limbs at about eight feet high, so the stump was cut to that point.  So Wes stood back and looked at what remained.  The shape of the stump brought an idea.  He visualized an American shield thirty inches wide, thirty-six inches tall and eight inches thick to memorialize George Washington (1732-1799) and the tree (1750-2012).

So Wes contacted Matt Stephens, a chainsaw artist from Weatherford. He worked two days and revealed an American shield from the inside of this large oak trunk.  He worked one day with rain all day and the other in the snow.  Wes said “Matt’s as reliable as your post person and a lot more artistic.” The results were incredible and it’s a beautiful memorial and everyone who removes a tree should consider this.

Over the last few years, Wes has become more involved in recognizing important trees.  In the Lake Worth area over the past few years he has determined the largest tree in thirty-five species, selected representative trees in eighteen historic areas and determined the trees to see in each of our many parks.  He was successful at getting seven of our trees named as Fort Worth Heritage trees with another five trees to be nominated this year.  He is about to submit nominations of three area trees for Famous Trees of Texas.