Friends of Patrick Eagan Park

Letters to the Editor

Eagan This Week
Saturday, December 1, 2001

Park Might Have the Same Fate as Lone Oak Tree

To the editor:

The city of Eagan is considering whether to build a golf course using Patrick Eagan Park.

During a break from an Eagan City Council meeting discussing the issue, I read the historical newspaper clippings about Eagan's Lone Oak tree and discovered that the city had been a poor steward of this symbol of Eagan. The Lone Oak, at least 200 years old, was where Eagan posted official announcements, news of the day, and, in its shade, local dairy farmers cooled their milk in a large water tank.

The tree was well liked in early Eagan. The residents of what is now Lone Oak Road refused another name for that road; the oldest church in Eagan changed its name to Trinity Lone Oak Lutheran Church; and on Arbor Day, a bronze plaque was fixed to the tree with the words "The Lone Oak, a bur oak, quercus macroparpa, cultural treasure of Eagan, Minnesota, 1976." The tree was designated Minnesota's first "heritage tree" and mentioned in the book of "Famous and Historic Trees."

The city was a poor caretaker of the Lone Oak because, when the city council approved Highway 55 construction and "specified that the tree be kept from harm," it didn't actually see that the tree was protected and blacktop was laid to within a foot of the trunk. This and other insults (especially road salt) helped kill the tree.

The Lone Oak was cut down on April 9, 1984, although ironically, the city has official stationary in the same glass case stating that the Lone Oak Tree is "The symbol of strength and growth in our community."

The city has tried to replace the Lone Oak with a "Grandfather Tree" moved and replanted at a cost of, I think, $55,000, but it looked like a patient in intensive care with many tubes and monitors --- not a symbol of much of anything.

I am afraid the city wants to show the same type of affection for Patrick Eagan Park as it did for the Lone Oak; using it for a golf course will have the same effect that the blacktop and road salt did for the Lone Oak.

John Ward

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