“Only God Can Make a Tree”

The Lindsborg Old Mill & Swedish Heritage Museum is asking the community for ideas for how to honor a more than 100-year-old elm tree on museum grounds that has to be removed, as well as putting out a special call for assistance in covering the unexpected expense.

Lenora Lynam, Executive Director of the museum, said that removing the tree is the last thing the museum wants to do, but that there is little choice.

“It is this beautiful, grand tree with almost as many years of history as the roller mill itself,” Lynam said. “But it’s dying from Dutch Elm Disease, and leaving it up could put other trees in the community at risk.”

Dutch Elm Disease is caused by an invasive fungus and carried from tree to tree by elm bark beetles. The leaves of infected trees turn yellow, wilt, and brown – ultimately killing the tree. In the United States, an estimated 40 million trees have been killed by the disease.

In the case of the museum’s tree, the disease progressed quickly and means removal will need to happen quickly – both to prevent spread of the disease and to prevent falling dead limbs from damaging the museum building.

With the removal, the museum is also asking for help in two areas from supporters and community members.

First, they are holding a special fundraising campaign to help defray the approximately $3,000 unbudgeted cost of the tree’s removal.

Second, the museum would like for the removed wood to not go to waste and for at least part of it to memorialize the long-lived tree. Those who have creative and meaningful ideas for how the elm wood could be used – so long as the use will not risk further spread of Dutch Elm Disease – should send the suggestion to [email protected] or call 785-227-3595.

Caroline de Filippis, Community Development Director of the museum, said they are also planning to plant a replacement tree near the elm after it is removed – most likely a Northern Red Oak, which will grow to have a similar look to the elm but is not vulnerable to Dutch Elm Disease.

“It will take time to grow,” de Filippis said. “But our hope is that in time it will become just as big and beautiful as this century tree we are having to remove.”