Hamilton County officials consider best use for Osage tree

Hamilton County officials consider best use for Osage tree

October 24th, 2012 by Kate Harrison Belz in Local - Breaking News

The Osage orange tree on the Hamilton County Courthouse lawn fell as heavy storms swept through the area. Thousands of couples have married under the tree.

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

Hamilton County officials still are trying to decide the best use for the old Osage orange tree which fell on the county courthouse lawn last month.

Mayor Jim Coppinger and a group of other county officials visited the tree at its current resting place on Enterprise South Nature Park property on Wednesday morning.

The tree will be kept at the location until officials decide whether to have artisans craft the wood into artifacts for county use, to make the wood available to the public in a lottery, or some combination of those options.

Hundreds of people were married under the tree throughout the courthouse's history.

Coppinger said his office has received dozens of calls from people with questions about what will happen with the tree, or suggestions of what can be done with it.

"We've had more call on this tree than some of our most controversial issues," Coppinger said.

Chattanooga City Forester Gene Hyde has examined the part of the tree's interior, and told the mayor that the tree is well over 150 years old, although an exact age has yet to be determined.

Read more in tomorrow's Times Free Press.