“The damage was bad. I'm surprised (the trees) made it this long and hadn't fallen down already, especially with the winds this area sees,” artist Lance Kellogg said. “You touch certain parts, and it just falls apart in your hands. But this way the county didn't have to get rid of the trees, we can turn it into something beautiful.”
The eagle would have had a 6-foot wing span, been clutching fish in its sharp talons, an intricate pattern of vines would have weaved its way down the stump and another eagle would have been carved from another branch, perched on a nest with baby eagles inside. Camdenton chainsaw artist Lance Kellogg put three days of work into carving that first vision on one of the dying trees on the Camden County Courthouse lawn before he had to take his chainsaw to the bottom of the tree. “I got depressed over that one,” Kellogg said. “I had the wings done, the head cocked just right, even did a lot of the detail work on the wings and head. When I started in on the body, I ran into rot and it just fell apart. I cut down the tree to see how far it was gone and it was completely. There was nothing I could do.” With the tree cut down, Kellogg moved on to the tree next to it. “I was more determined than ever to make this work. I got a little hard-headed about it,” he said. With the eagle plan scrapped for the last tree, Kellogg modified it for the second. A single eagle would sit perched on top, detail would be worked in to bring back the texture of the bark all the way down the stump with cascading rocks at the bottom, reminiscent of the Ozark mountains. The problem is, the rot was considerably worse in the second tree. On the first tree, one whole side was almost completely rotted away. Only the top part of the second tree appeared dead from the outside. Kellogg held onto the hope his plan could work. When he cut into the second tree, he found out the extent of the problem. The rot had almost made its way completely through the second tree. Kellogg's determination won out in the end. He managed to carve around the damaged part, and a perched eagle now stands guard over the courthouse. But the damage has been done, and the two-tone line down the eagle spells trouble in the future. Kellogg has treated the wood with an anti-rot, anti-insect solution to halt the damage. When he did so, he said 20 to 30 pine beetles came out of the wood, a possible cause for the trees' death. Kellogg thought he saved the tree for a period of two to five years. “The damage was bad. I'm surprised (the trees) made it this long and hadn't fallen down already, especially with the winds this area sees,” he said. “You touch certain parts, and it just falls apart in your hands. But this way the county didn't have to get rid of the trees, we can turn it into something beautiful.” County commissioners turned to the public for volunteers last month to carve the trunks of the two dying trees before one of them fell and hurt someone or damaged a vehicle parked nearby. Kellogg picked up chainsaw sculpture as a hobby after retiring and has since turned it into extra money by opening BearRoots in Camdenton. He offered his services to the county after he noticed the trees were going to be cut down. He has put in an estimated 40 hours of work on the two trees and still has several more hours' worth of detail carving and staining to complete before the final eagle will go on display. Weather permitting, he hopes to be done Wednesday afternoon. Contact this reporter at email@example.com.