'Herbie The Elm' Lives On : The Two-Way Nine months after being felled because of disease, what was one of the nation's tallest and oldest elm trees has been turned into dozens of beautiful pieces of art, furniture, bowls and an electric guitar.
NPR logo 'Herbie The Elm' Lives On

'Herbie The Elm' Lives On

Nine months after being felled because of disease, what was one of the nation's tallest and oldest elm trees has been turned into dozens of beautiful pieces of art, furniture, bowls and an electric guitar.

Dec. 15, 2009: Herbie the elm, before being cut down. Steven Senne/AP hide caption

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Steven Senne/AP

As Frank reported last January, the folks in Yarmouth, Maine, were saddened when they had to bring down "Herbie," a 110-foot elm that turned out to be 217 years old. Herbie had gone through 14 bouts of Dutch elm disease before finally succumbing.

Jan. 19, 2010: Herbie is cut down. Pat Wellenbach/AP hide caption

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Pat Wellenbach/AP

"Herbie 217," made from wood of the fallen giant and named for Herbie's estimated age. Courtesy of Andrew Olson hide caption

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Courtesy of Andrew Olson

Now, the Associated Press writes, the artists who were given about 15 tons of wood to work with are auctioning off items including "a mantle clock, lamps, walking sticks, a music stand, baseball bats, tables, benches, bowls, platters, a desk, step stools, bottle stops and jewelry boxes." Proceeds from this weekend's auction, which you can read about here, go to benefit the Yarmouth Tree Trust. (Artists were told the disease wouldn't be spread if they were careful to destroy any remaining bits of bark; the beetles that spreads the disease live in the bark.)

Among the things made from Herbie is a guitar, which the AP describes as "perhaps the most striking of all" the pieces.

We spoke with guitar maker Andrew Olson in Freeport, Maine. He said that as soon as he heard about Herbie being divided up among artists, "I knew I wanted to get my hands on a piece and make something out of it."

Olson had not worked with elm wood before, but says he found it similar to northern ash — a wood often used by guitar makers. As for the end result, "I thought it sounded fantastic," Olson says of the guitar (which he hopes will sell for $3,500 or more).