Park's Ponderosa pine is named for two Rogers
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There is a Ponderosa tree located in Veterans Park on the south side of the Walworth County Government Center in Elkhorn. It is the Rogers Tree, dedicated to the memory of Roger Hansen and Roger Oberst. These two men were deputies in the Walworth County Sheriff's Department. Hansen was a lieutenant and Oberst was a sergeant when their service ended.
The tree was given by Dick Ladwig, another retired deputy. He and Herman Rader, former building maintenance man for the courthouse, planted the tree. It is located just west of the sidewalk leading to the south entrance of the government center, next to the sidewalk along Walworth Avenue.
Roger Hansen was born in 1931. He began his career as a deputy in April 1956. According to Ladwig, Hansen’s last day on the force was April 6, 1979. He died of cancer the following month.
Oberst started in the sheriff's department on June 1, 1965. He had been the chief of police for the village of Walworth, beginning in June 1952. In December 1962, under his leadership the village began a 24-hour police force. In May 1973, Oberst became the coordinator of emergency government for the county. He developed a procedure for all county operations during various emergencies. Oberst died April 14, 1981.
The Ponderosa was planted in 1982. It is a unique tree, growing to great heights and having a wonderful root system. The roots are able to maintain these majestic trees even when planted singly.
This is unlike the sequoia trees which need to be in groves to be able to maintain their upright position. Each tree helps hold up the other trees.
Ponderosas have a very thick, unusual bark. Out west, they tend to survive forest fires because they drop their lower limbs and the spreading grass fires do not reach the major portion of the tree.
Ponderosa trees differ from Norway pines because they often have three needles extending from each pod. This gives them thicker branches.
Pilots who have to eject from their planes out west look for Ponderosa pines. They aim for those trees. It gives them a softer landing. The pilots use a rope to lower themselves to the ground.
If you never have seen a Ponderosa pine, take the time to look for the Rogers Tree in Veterans Park.