An oak tree Helen Keller climbed as a child while growing up in Alabama was cut down on Tuesday after it became a safety hazard.
The Times Daily reported
that the tree, located at Keller's birthplace, Ivy Green, was a favorite of school children who visited the tourist destination because it is where Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan, famously rescued her during a storm.
"Miss Sullivan had to climb up there and get her," Sue Pilkilton, executive director of Ivy Green, told the publication.
Pilkilton said that the 200-year-old oak tree had become hollowed out after years of decay and insect infestation, forcing the members of Ivy Green's board to order it be taken down. Part of the tree had already fallen during a tornado this July. The caretakers of Ivy Green have received several offers to turn the tree's wood into souvenirs and mementos to benefit the estate.
"It took a whole side of the tree," Pilkilton explained. "It was like someone took an ax and cut it right in two. We’re very fortunate that the limbs did not do any damage to anything."
The tree was one of three American Heritage Trees from which saplings are taken and sold to benefit educational and environmental development.
"Isn’t that the saddest thing? We have tried for years to save that tree," said Pilkilton.
"We’re very disappointed," Lynne Weaver, an Ivy Green docent, told Reuters
Keller was born healthy in 1880, but childhood illness left her deaf and blind. Sullivan taught her how to communicate, read, and write, and Keller went on to be a champion for the visually and hearing impaired, writing over a dozen books before her death in 1986.
Her story was famously depicted in the 1962 movie "The Miracle Worker." Keller was also depicted on the back of the Alabama quarter in 2003.
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