The iconic oak that featured in The Shawshank Redemption and was part of what has been dubbed the “Shawshank Trail” has fallen. While Stephen King placed the oak in Buxton, Maine, the tree actually stood tall in Richland County, Ohio – at least until now.
It was a sad moment when the white oak, made famous by The Shawshank Redemption, finally fell in Mansfield, Ohio. The following and above are photos of the tree before it fell.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 8, 2014
Reportedly, the Shawshank Oak was struck by lightning five years ago on July 29, 2011, and some of the tree was damaged at the time. The image below shows the portion of the oak tree that fell at that time, still kept as a memento of the film with a plaque.
However, according to Jodie Snavely with the Mansfield & Richland County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the rest of the tree finally met its maker on Friday, after high winds during a storm.
What was left of the famous oak tree from “The Shawshank Redemption” has fallen, the victim of a southwest wind. https://t.co/9cbxVTnfe8
— MansfieldNewsJournal (@MansfieldNJ) July 23, 2016
Snavely said the tree, and the field it was located in, had become an international tourist destination due to the film adaptation of King’s book, The Shawshank Redemption, adding, “It’s a sad day for Shawshank fans.
For fans of the 1994 movie, the oak made its debut close to the end of the film, when Morgan Freeman – acting in the role of the recently paroled prisoner Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding – follows clues given to him by a fellow inmate to the oak tree’s location.
Frank Darabont and Morgan Freeman at the famous oak tree in The Shawshank Redemption. pic.twitter.com/AW9O1qGWz4
— Film History In Pics (@FilmHistoryPics) March 1, 2014
Once he finds a certain stone wall and the oak tree, his character digs up and opens a box buried close to the base of the tree. The box contains a letter, along with cash to buy a bus ticket, enabling “Red” to visit his old friend Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins), who escaped the prison at Shawshank and fled to Mexico.
At some time prior to his escape, Dufresne took his friend aside and told him about the tree, explaining that this is where he had proposed to his wife, whom he had been unjustly sent to prison for killing.
Dufresne told Redding, “Promise me, Red. If you ever get out… find that spot.”
While the tree had originally occupied a field in Buxton, Maine in Stephen King’s novel, the bent tree still remains in a field 810 miles away in Richland County, Ohio.
Snavely said she has had a chance to see the whole tree, but if it is only a stump that remains in the field, she is sure people will still come to see it, because “hope is a good thing, and a good thing never dies,” quoting Dufresne’s words from the film.
Many fans took to Twitter after hearing the sad news, expressing their condolences for the loss of the oak tree.
— PV_momma (@midwest_cowgirl) July 22, 2016
According to USA Today, one couple from Weatherford, Texas might have been among the last to see the iconic tree. John and Marge Shoemaker were in the area for their niece’s wedding on Saturday and visited the tree on Thursday, taking a photo at the time. They have since learned from a tour guide at the Malabar Farm State Park that the tree has fallen.
Readers can see the tree at the 1:52 mark in the trailer included below.