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The McKinley Stump in Chehalis is removed on October 23, 2007.
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On October 23, 2007, city crews in Chehalis remove the McKinley Stump, a city landmark for over a century. Originally intended as a speaking platform for President William McKinley (1843-1901) in 1901, the giant stump had become riddled with ants.
In May 1901, the stump was cut from a 360-year-old Douglas Fir tree near Pe Ell, and transported to Chehalis to serve as a speaking platform for President William McKinley. The trip was cancelled when McKinley’s wife took ill. A few months later, McKinley was assassinated, and Vice-President Roosevelt assumed the presidency.
In 1903, Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) gave a “stump speech” atop it, and was the only U.S. President to do so. William H. Taft (1857-1930) used it as a podium in 1907, when he was Secretary of War. He was elected president in 1908.
The stump, along with a pagoda-like structure built over it, was originally located near the intersection of West Street and Market Boulevard, but was later moved closer to the nearby railroad depot. In the late 1940s, vandals set fire to the stump, and concrete had to be added to the burned portion to hold it together. The landmark was then moved to Recreation Park, which was considered to be more secure.
Forces of Nature
By 2007, the stump was infested with carpenter ants and the decision was made to remove it. The Lewis County Historical Society had hoped to save a cross-section, but when city crews cut into the stump they discovered that it was rotten throughout. Pieces near the top that were under the pagoda were in better shape, and will eventually be placed in the local museum.
The Lewis County Historical Society, along with the Weyerhaeuser Company, will replace the stump with an old growth tree that is planned to be cut down near Rainier. If that wood is in good shape, a replica stump will be back under the newly restored pagoda in the spring of 2008.
“At Chehalis, President Talks for Fifteen Minutes in Advocacy of the Strenuous Life,” The Seattle Times, May 23, 1903, p. 2; “Chehalis Gives Warm Welcome,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 23, 1903, p. 14; “McKinley Stump Comes Apart” The Chronicle, October 24, 2007, (http://www.chronline.com/).
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