Losing a Piece of History, Creating a Safer Parkway

Losing a Piece of History, Creating a Safer Parkway

The George Washington Parkway is a little safer this week. Thanks to the preventive measures taken by Ralph and Jeannette Lapp, owners of one very old and one very large tulip poplar. According to a worker from Tysons Tree Service, the company who felled the tree, the tree measured 120-feet tall with a base measuring five feet in diameter.

After Ralph Lapp discovered a large hole in the base of the tree, he contacted a tree company, who, after looking at the tree felt that it did indeed need to come down. A representative from the National Park Service confirmed that it was a potential hazard to the George Washington Parkway. Although located on the Lapp's property, it overlooked the Parkway cut-off across from Dyke Marsh. If it fell on the parkway, the Lapps would be liable for the damage caused by the tree.

"We didn't want to take any chances," said Jeannette Lapp.

Chris Lapp, son of Ralph and Jeannette, was sad to see the tree go. "It was the lynchpin of the property," he said.

He asked one of the workers from the tree company to save a cross section. Chris is planning to sand and polish it to make it into a table. He's also trying to count the rings to determine the tree's age. Preliminary estimates date it back before the Civil War, about 150-200 years old.

Chris said that his parents had to secure a permit from Parkway officials for the tree service to come in and cut the tree, since the only way they could get to it was from the cut-off. The Park Service placed cones to block off the cut-off and a crew of 10 men came in the morning with two semi-dump trucks, one crane, and two chipper/shredder trucks. It took them a total of about five hours to fell the tree.

While one tree service which was first contacted felt that it was unsafe for a tree trimmer to climb to the top then using a large crane to carry the tree trimmer, Tysons Tree Service felt that it was safe for somebody to get up there. And so they did, cutting the tree in 20-foot sections, chopping them up and then using a crane to load them into the dump trucks.

Chris said that the bottom section was hollow almost the whole way through, so while the Lapps will miss their beautiful tree, they will sleep a little better at night, knowing that they did the right thing.