AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A storm has badly damaged a historic 300-year-old oak believed to have been used by American Indians to mark a portage path where canoes were carried between the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas rivers.
Winds during a storm Tuesday broke a roughly 60-foot limb off the 90-foot-tall tree. Officials at Cascade Valley Park fear the damage means the Signal Tree, as it is called, is dying.
"It's very unlikely the tree will survive the damage," said Susan Fairweather, chief of administrative services for the Summit County Metro Parks.
Popular lore says the tree, which is a short distance from the Cuyahoga River, served as a marker for the entrance to the portage pass.
But George Knepper, a historian and a professor emeritus at the University of Akron, doubts that, saying the area is not the logical location for a portage to the Tuscarawas River.
The changing flow of the river and the age of the tree make it impossible to know the definite story, Metro Parks Interpretive Naturalist Mike Greene said.