Freedom Tree felled

Norwegian Spruce cut down to make way for McEuen Field project Memorial comes down

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City of Coeur d'Alene workers secure sections of the Freedom Tree to a trailer after it was fallen Friday to make way for the McEuen Park project. The tree was planted in the mid-60s to prevent Fourth Street from encroaching onto Tubbs Hill, but was later given the title of the Freedom Tree in 1972 following the capture of Fred McMurray, a fighter pilot from Coeur d'Alene, in Vietnam.

COEUR d'ALENE - After 50 years of standing, The Freedom Tree was felled on Friday.

Construction crews removed the 65-foot tall Norwegian Spruce around 9 a.m. as part of the McEuen Field development project that got under way in earnest this week.

But a new Freedom Tree will grow soon.

A new Norway spruce 'Freedom Tree' will be planted in an area just west of the new Veterans' Memorial when the park project is complete, along with its plaque.

"I really hate to see that happen," Fred McMurray, after whom the tree was dedicated, told The Press earlier this month after he received word the tree was coming down. "But I accept it."

The tree, originally planted around 1960 near Front Avenue and Fourth Street as a way to prevent development from encroaching on Tubbs Hill, earned its name after it was dedicated to Coeur d'Alene native McMurray, who had been taken prisoner during the Vietnam War, in 1972.

So what's to be done with all the wood that a 65-foot felled tree can produce?

McMurray will get a couple of chunks as a keepsake of the real thing, he said Friday, including some cuttings to plant an offspring tree at his property.

"They're going to cut down some pieces for me," he said.

Leftovers still provide other options, which the city is considering after asking the public for suggestions.

The possibilities include planting other 'offspring' Freedom Trees, and carving chain saw artwork or benches for the park.

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