Branches of 'The Senator' being given away -- for free

3,500-year-old Pond Cypress tree burned, collapsed in January 2012

Published On: Jan 16 2013 11:39:05 AM EST   Updated On: Jan 16 2013 11:45:42 AM EST
The Senator
LONGWOOD, Fla. -

Pieces of "The Senator," one of the world's oldest and tallest Pond Cypress trees, which was destroyed in a fire in Seminole County one year ago, are being offered to the public -- for free.

[PHOTOS: 'The Senator' catches fire | VIDEO: Top of tree ablaze | Ground view]

"The Senator," estimated to be 3,500 years old and nearly 120 feet tall, burned and collapsed last January at Big Tree Park near Longwood.

According to the Seminole County Greenways and Natural Lands Division, pieces of wood from the tree are being given away on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Anyone interested in obtaining a piece of wood, described as small branches, can call 407-349-0769.

Most of the wood from the tree was issued to four artists selected by Seminole County for pieces to commemorate the tree.

The Senator was believed to be the tallest and oldest tree of its kind in the United States and the fifth oldest tree in the world.

The tree, named after Florida Sen. M. O. Overstreet, who in 1927 donated the property on which the landmark sits, was about 120 feet tall and its trunk had a diameter of nearly 18 feet.  The tree was the main attraction in the park, which was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge in 1929.

The tree had reached a height of 165 feet before a 1925 hurricane lopped off its top.  Afterward, lightning rods were installed to protect the tree from more damage.

Sara Barnes, 26, of Winter Park, was arrested in February and pleaded not guilty to charges of unlawfully setting fire to land. 

Investigators said Barnes, who was also charged with drug possession, climbed into the tree's hollow trunk and lit a fire to see better.

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