Stately Clearwater Oak
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Clearwater Sam Construction around the tree was unfeasible.

The solution? Move it.

Accomplished successfully, the feat of moving the 125-ton tree 120 feet across the lot has now been officially recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest tree ever moved.

The transplant of the oak, known familiarly as “Sam” to Clearwater residents, was engineered and executed over a four-month period by Westenberger Tree Service Inc., T&B House Movers of Clearwater, and Environmental Design, a Texas company.

Preparations to move the tree began as early as April 1998 when it was started on a diet of extra water and a blend of special nutrients to strengthen it.

Westenberger’s strategy was to relieve any stress on the tree and strengthen its root system. Then he and his crew methodically cut the ground around it into a giant root ball.

“I tend to think it’s had a hard life,” Westenberger said, noting that the tree once lorded over a courtyard at the Gray Moss Inn, which the church bought and demolished in the early 1990s. Later, the ground around the tree was compacted when the church used the lot for parking, not the best thing for an oak tree’s root system, which tends to spread horizontally near the soil’s surface.


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