The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


September 9, 2013

The Big Tree, The Circus, and Ringwood Park

Picture: Looking north from high atop the Courthouse in 1905 one can still see the ballpark, the open spaces, the limestone quarry, the millionaire’s mansions on the bluff and just out of sight to the north is the original “Big Tree.”

The Ringwood area or Ringwood Park was seven blocks of open fields, at the turn of the 20th Century, that extended from the north end of Clinton to the south end of Lyons at what is now 13th Avenue North. The Phillip Deeds farm acted as a buffer between Clinton and Lyons.

Our hardworking researchers at the Root Cellar of the Clinton Public Library came up with some startling news last week. While going meticulously through The Clinton Daily Heralds of 1904, Dorothy Ryan stopped incredulously at a news article dated November 14th that read, “’Big Tree’ is A Mere Stump!” Under the main headline was a leader: Ancient Landmark in Ringwood Succumbs to the Saw and Axe. It goes on further to state: The Decaying Trunk was Dangerous. (Another) Massive Cottonwood is in the way and shares the same fate as other large trees in the area. -- Who knew? As nearly as we can track down, the original ‘Big Tree’ was on the Phillip Deeds property, a family farm which stretched along the present 13th Avenue North from the current 2nd Street, west to 4th Street. And, as nearly as we can now tell, this giant cottonwood was near the intersection of 13th and North 4th Street.

The tree could have been a cousin to the cottonwood we know as a silver poplar. Many of these trees are evident today along 13th near where beloved former editor Ev Streit once lived. Most people of our fair city, at least those living today, all remember the ‘Big Tree’ as being on 2nd Street and 13th Avenue North, just about 100 feet from the northwest corner. Nevertheless, it apparently wasn’t the first. We suspect that many towns havw a ‘big tree’ and once it is lost, another simply takes its place.

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