For more than a century, a great cottonwood tree stood alongside West River Street at the gateway to Fishtown in downtown Leland, Michigan. It was planted around 1901 by Ozzie Cordes.
But this wasn’t just any cottonwood tree: It had grown so large over the years that it eventually became the state champion. The tree boasted a height of 100 feet, a circumference of 20 feet, and a diameter of 76 inches.
Unfortunately, as the tree aged, there were increasing risks from falling limbs and branches. Though the cottonwood received a reprieve from Leelanau County in 2006, in 2011, it was determined that the tree must be felled. Prior to its downsizing, 60 identical clones were created from snipped buds in 2008 and planted in the vicinity.
As a way of remembering and honoring the massive tree, it was decided that a significant portion of the stump would be preserved. A memorial plaque also adorns the cottonwood’s remnants, which is cared for and maintained by the Leland Champion Tree Group and the local chamber of commerce, in cooperation with the Leelanau County Road Commission.