MORGANFIELD, Ky. (WEHT) – Union County has its own tree of life.
A tree sculpture is located behind the Union County Public Library. On the tree is a commemoration of the 200 years since Union County was founded. There is a time capsule buried in front of the tree. Along the roots of the tree are the words community, diversity, industry, education, agriculture, family, faith, river and coal. The years 1811 and 2011 are on the tree.
According to Kim Humphrey, who was in economic development for the county in 2011 and helped to create a plan to celebrate the bicentennial, the sculpture, known as “Tree of Life,” was the idea of the bicentennial committee members who wanted to pay tribute to the foundation of Union County. Humphrey says this foundation includes the concepts of family, faith, diversity, community, education, river, coal, agriculture and industry. Why those particular words were chosen was due to many people getting polled on what they thought represented Union County, including the leadership class that helped with the dedication.
Materials from the Union County Public Library state the tree is also known as the bicentennial tree statue. Materials give the tree’s official measurements as seven-by-six-foot. According to Mayor Randy Greenwell, the tree came about when the Union County Bicentennial Committee and Union County Leadership Class was formed in 2010 to plan events for the county’s 200th birthday in 2011. Greenwell says one of its major tasks was to come up with an appropriate monument to note the occasion and to be visible for generations to come.
Greenwell says the monument tree was dedicated after the Bicentennial and a time capsule was buried at the base of the monument on September 13, 2013, and will be opened on September 13, 2063. However, Humphrey says the time capsule in front of the tree is to be opened on September 15, 2065. Materials from the Union County Public Library confirm the date of September 13, 2063, and also note that prior to the placement of the statue a time capsule was placed in the ground.
Documents say in the time capsule are items that “depicted the different events of the Bicentennial Celebration.” Library materials indicate that the items in the capsule are gathered memorabilia from every Union County business, as well as included a piece of coal, an automotive part, a paper spiral core and a log sliver from a smokehouse constructed in 1840.
Humphrey says these words form the roots of this tree, which is made from a concrete compound. An artist from Bowling Green, Kentucky, was commissioned to create the piece. Library documents did not name who the artist was. Humphrey explains that it took time to choose the design, and it took the longest time when it came to working with the artist. The tree was made in a couple of months.
Humphrey says being able to create a public art piece that showcases the qualities that the county holds dear is the reason officials wanted to create a tree instead of carving out the words on a real tree. The committee also created a tree garden at the back of the parking lot that hosts ten live trees in memory or honor of families.
Humphrey says, “The logo on the tree was also a community effort in creating a design that reinforced the character of Union County. Also, there were over 20 events hosted during the year, from family farm tours to the Lincoln/Douglas debate. We also published a coffee table book to commemorate the year. This project was a huge effort for a small county, and it could not have happened without the community volunteer leaders, local historians and many others who opened their homes or participated in activities.”
The tree is located around 102-110 South Court Street in Morganfield.
This is the eleventh of a weekly twenty-one-part series that will help educate about some roadside attractions in the Eyewitness News viewing area. Check in every Sunday at 8 a.m. for the next one! Last week’s installment can be found here.