Mulch now sits where Toomer's Corner oaks stood - WRBL

Mulch now sits where Toomer's Corner oaks stood

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AUBURN, Ala. -

Nearly three years after being poisoned, the Toomer's Corner Oak Trees were removed Tuesday morning. It took about six hours to completely remove the trees, which stood between 25-to-32 feet tall.

Crews started working at 7 AM central time. The first limb fell at 7:23 AM. The limbs were removed one by one with a saw.

Afterwards, a few people collected the sawdust as a keepsake. One Auburn University student said she planned on making a necklace out of the material.

Mulch now covers the area where the trees used to sit. The remaining roots will be removed in early 2014 when work will begin on the new design for the area. It includes planting two live oaks in the corner, but they will be situated farther back from the street. There will also be more seating.

Dozens of people lined the streets as the workers diligently removed the oaks.

One-hundred-year-old Edna Christmas said she couldn't miss the historic moment. Even though she didn't attend Auburn, many of her family members did. For nearly 50 years, she's taken part in the rolling tradition.

"Mother was a real motivating factor in our coming because she was determined to come," said Christmas's daughter, Edna Earl Christmas. The younger Christmas said her family and friends have had many bonding experiences rolling the oaks. She said they represent more than just trees, it creates a common ground for people of all backgrounds.

"I wanted to be here to the bitter end and see them laid to rest so to speak," Edna Earl said.

The decision was made to remove the trees last year after it was clear they were dying. In 2010, University of Alabama fan Harvey Updyke poisoned them after the Iron Bowl. Earlier this year, Updyke accepted a plea deal and pleaded guilty to poisoning them. He is currently serving time behind bars.

"These trees, you know they were poisoned with a herbicide, we weren't successful in saving the trees. But, it doesn't change the spirit. I think Saturday was reflective of that," said Dr. Gary Keever, the man who has been taking care of the trees since they were poisoned.

Around 50-thousand fans came out on A-Day to roll the trees "one last time."

"To come out here, see all the people after the game and see them throwing the toilet paper it's amazing," said James Yarbarough. He has been rolling the trees since he was a little kid and to him, tearing them down is like losing a child. While he's happy they will eventually be replaced he said it won't be the same. "You can't replace something that's been taken away."

It will take three-to-five years before fans will be able to roll the new trees.  In the meantime, a cable system will be constructed at the intersection of Magnolia Avenue and College Street this summer so fans can continue the rolling tradition.

Sydney Cameron

Sydney joined the WRBL news team in December 2011 after working as a freelance reporter in Washington, D.C. More>>

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