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Giant Tree No Match For High Level Winds
Amanda Conner and daughter Adelyn, 7, stand in front of the downed eucalyptus tree on Conner’s grandmother’s property along Highway 120 just east of Escalon. High winds on Feb. 9 toppled the ancient tree, which grew on the site of the former Enterprise School. Marg Jackson/The Times

High winds on Sunday, Feb. 9 brought down one of the largest trees in the area, as an estimated 200 foot tall eucalyptus tree was felled on property along Highway 120 at the site of the former Enterprise School.

The tree struck a fence and a couple of outbuildings but did not damage a house on the property.

“They estimate it to be 100 to 150 years old,” said Amanda Conner, granddaughter of the property owner, 92-year-old Norma Jean Norton. “They heard it fall and felt the earth shake.”

The root ball of the tree itself was huge, dwarfing anyone who stood next to it and the tree fell in a direction where it spared the home. That, said Conner, was a blessing, as there were no injuries and the outbuildings damaged were not used for storage of anything significant.

“It was just taken down by the wind,” marveled Conner. “It didn’t hit anyone and what a blessing that is.”

The property along Highway 120, between Sutliff and Henry roads just east of Escalon, has been in the Norton family for decades.

“It’s sad to see the open sky,” admitted Conner, noting that the view in the backyard of the home has always included the majestic eucalyptus overshadowing it all.

“My uncle, my mother played in a fort in this tree, my cousins did too,” she said.

Amanda and young daughter Adelyn, 7, were taking a look at the tree this past week and both were astonished at the size, let alone the task ahead of those hired to cut up and haul away the tree.

For Norma Jean Norton, the tree is something that has always been a part of the homestead.

“It was that size when we moved here, we have lived here since 1950,” she explained.

Her husband, Dr. Rufus Norton, passed away in 1993.

“We tore the Enterprise School down when we bought the property, we used the bricks from that to build our house,” Norma added.

She said originally there were three eucalyptus trees on the property but now are down to one, with the trees rivaling the size of some Calaveras Big Trees.