When the giant oak tree made famous by the film “The Shawshank Redemption” was split in two by a storm last summer, the world took notice. News sites like TMZ, the Guardian, the Daily Mail, and even National Public Radio covered the unfortunate event. People expressed their sadness on message boards. The oak, a quiet celebrity before, was suddenly recognized as an international natural icon.
Unfortunately, the future of the tree – located in Mansfield, Ohio (and part of its popular “Shawshank Redemption Trail”) – was in doubt after an initial damage assessment. “The tree was rotted in the middle,” said Louis Andres of the Malabar Farm State Park. “I’m sorry to see it go. It’s a landmark. A lot of people always are asking about it.”
While reports suggested that the Mansfield community was rallying to save the tree, very little news filtered out after last summer. But good news: a little digging brought to me a a group called “The Shawshank Oak Tree, Ltd.” Part of the Shawshank Redemption Trail I mentioned earlier, they’re apparently raising money to protect the tree by selling branded souvenirs and other related merchandise. The group also recently posted this short update on their Facebook page:
“The Shawshank Oak Tree, Ltd., is pleased to announce that on May 18, 2012 the following individuals representing The Ohio Division of Forestry as well as The Ohio Department of Agriculture visited and personally inspected The Shawshank Oak Tree: ODNR Service Forester John Jolliff, ODNR Regional Urban, Forester Lisa M. Bowers and Ohio Department Of Agriculture Plant, and Pest Supervisor James Slyh.”
“All Parties concur … The Shawshank Oak Tree is Alive and Well!”
So there ya go “Shawshank” fans: The iconic oak is still standing guard over that gorgeous field on Pleasant Valley Rd. As the character Andy says in the film: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
Interested in making a visit to Mansfield? Check out the tourism details here.