“No good thing ever dies.” Andy Dufresne wrote those words to his friend Red near the end of “The Shawshank Redemption,” the film adaption of a Stephen King short story that took the world by storm in 1994.
And while millions familiar with the movie know that Andy got the best of Warden Norton in the end, breaking out of Shawshank to spend his last years on a beach in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, he was wrong about one thing.
The magnificent oak tree beneath which Morgan Freeman read those words onscreen is no more, toppled by strong winds in Lucas, Ohio, which stood in for Buxton, Maine, during filming.
â€œItâ€™s sad for the millions of folks who have an emotional connection to the movie,â€ Lee Tasseff, president of the Mansfield/Richland County Convention Bureau told weather.com, â€œbut particularly those that really identify with the tree as a symbol of hope.â€
A thunderstorm blew through the area Friday morning, with winds that gusted to 34 mph, according to a personal weather station in nearby Mansfield. It was too much for the tree, which had already lost half its trunk to a windstorm on July 29, 2011 â€“ nearly five years to the day earlier.
The tree, which is still fronted by the iconic stone wall featured in the film, stood on private property about 5 miles outside Lucas, part of the Shawshank Trail, a tour of filming sites run by the convention bureau that draws fans from around the world.
In addition to the tree, the trail includes the Wyandot County Courthouse where Andy was convicted, the “Maine National Bank” building where Andy collected Warden Nortonâ€™s ill-gotten gains and the Ohio State Reformatory â€“ Shawshank itself.
Tasseff said trail employees have witnessed fansâ€™ emotional connection to these landmarks over many years, and urges those who still want to see the tree to visit before itâ€™s taken off the property.
â€œIf youâ€™ve always had that desire to do it, your time is now,â€ he told weather.com.
Though no apparent plans have been made for the treeâ€™s future, it may be displayed at the reformatory, where the section that was sheared off by the 2011 storm sits on the grounds outside the building.
Snavely told Cleveland.com that she believes fans will still want to see the site where it once stood.
“The sun is out. It’s a beautiful day. There is still hope,” she said, quoting Andy in the movie.
And no matter what happens to the tree or the site, the majestic oak will undoubtedly live on in the hearts and minds of millions who watched Redâ€™s hope blossom beneath its branches.
So maybe, in the end, Andy was right after all.