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Lightning strikes down Cylburn Arboretum's historic 60-year-old dawn redwood tree

Iconic dawn redwood tree struck down by lightning at Cylburn Arboretum
Iconic dawn redwood tree struck down by lightning at Cylburn Arboretum 02:17

BALTIMORE - A historic 60-year-old dawn redwood tree at Baltimore's Cylburn Arboretum was struck by lightning and exploded during Monday night's storm.

Tree limbs and wood were splintered all over the lawn.

The once 83-foot tall redwood is a staple in the community that had towered over the gardens. It's now left in pieces.

People from all over came out to see the devastation for themselves.

"It was a really special, special tree," said Brent Figlestahler, head gardener of Cylburn Arboretum. "You can see it exploded and we're really sad. It's a tragedy for the property to lose this tree." 

The tree was planted in 1965 and became a historic part of the property.

Visitors dodged branches and pieces of wood thrown across the lawn to get a glimpse of the damage.

"We live in Mount Washington and we come here every day to walk our dog and be here," said Shelly Daly.

Daly told WJZ the redwood tree was more than just a beautiful sight, but it also marked an important milestone for her family.

"My son proposed to his wife at the bench right there," Daly said. 

Nearly 60 years of history at the Cylburn Arboretum was demolished in a flash.

"It's hard to believe," said Erika Castillo, the Director of Education at Cylburn Arboretum. "This was probably the No. 1 most favorite tree on the property."

Castillo said the pain of losing the tree goes deeper than the roots.

"It is just a tree but it wasn't just a tree either," she said. 

Crews are working to clean up the mess and plan on finding a way to honor or remember the tree somewhere on the property.

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