Chains keep Sequim black locust standing tall

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– For perhaps 86 years of the century of Sequim's existence, a black locust tree has stood at 154 W. Alder St., even if it has needed a little help lately.

Wrapped around the tree, which long ago split at the crotch, is a series of chains, cables and all manner of steel aimed at keeping it standing.

“It is absolutely beautiful. It is just . . . it's really a cool tree,” said A.J. Webb, who owns the 1927 home with business partner Bruce Gentry.

Webb and Gentry purchased the modest blue house and its front-yard tree from Kirk and Miriam Keroack seven years ago.

Now, they rent it to newlyweds Charles and Janeane Darland, who moved in shortly after getting married last fall.

The couple said they have fallen in love with their front-yard landmark, which is situated southwest of the house in front of an Olympic Mountain backdrop, a perfect setting for the end of the day.

“It's just amazing when the sun sets behind it. It really is something,” Janeane said.

With slightly spiny bark, cragged limbs and a rift down the middle, the tree could be mistaken as dead in the winter months.

“But it is super sexy in the spring,” Webb said.

“It is really something to see when it starts getting green.”

The locust shoots out sprigs of green blooms that grow noticeably bigger every day, he said.

“You can just see it explode when spring hits,” Webb said.

Unsure of exactly when the tree was planted, Webb said a friend of his in the tree business inspected the locust and estimated it was roughly as old as the house, which was built before Sequim extended sewer pipes to homes in the city.

“A lot of these old homes, you can tell they were built before the sewer because they all have little additions on the back, like this one does,” said Webb, an area contractor.

The tree, an Alder Street fixture, began to split apart at the crotch quite awhile ago, Webb said.

Rather than take it down, some previous owner decided to wrap a steel cable around its limbs to hold everything together.

After taking a close look at the tree when they purchased it, Webb and Gentry determined the steel cable was not going to keep it standing for long.

So they cinched a logging chain around it.

Then, they added another, pulled it tight with a come-along and added a padlock to secure the whole support get-up in place.

That has kept the tree standing — though at a bit of a lean — ever since.

“I know there could be some liability concerns, but it would be a shame if that tree ever had to come down,” Charles Darland said.

“It makes for some great photographs.”

But steel and wood only hang on so long.

“We know eventually, we're going to have to take some of that weight load off,” Webb said.

When the day comes that the great black locust of Alder Street has to exit the scene, Webb and Gentry said, they hope it will take another form and sail off into the sunset.

“We have some good friends who are boat builders, and they said locust is great wood for making boats,” Webb said.

“That's probably what we'll do with it in the end.”

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at

Last modified: March 12. 2013 6:28PM
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