Famous tree is gone, but Kathy Cody will keep tradition alive

by: CLIFF NEWELL - The sign tells the story: The dinosaurs are gone for now but will be coming back.The Lake Oswego dinosaur tree is no more.

The 70-foot-tall big-leaf maple tree was huge, bulbous and scary, and looked like it could be a Halloween hangout for ghosts, witches and black cats.

Instead, it was the hangout spot for toy dinosaurs for the past some 25 years in the First Addition Neighborhood. Children would come to the base of the tree to play with the dinosaurs until their parents called them to come home. The tree had been used for that charming purpose ever since Mary Anne Milsten moved into the residence at 892 Sixth St. and decided to make some changes.

“She said the tree looked like it needed some dinosaurs,” said Kathy Cody, Milsten’s daughter. “Kids would stop by and play with the dinosaurs, and sometimes they would take some home. But others brought dinosaurs and left them there. Everyone got to know about the dinosaurs. One time a college guy stopped by and told me that when he was a kid he and his brother would come by and play with the dinosaurs.”

Parents liked the dinosaur tree, too. It was great for bonding parents and children, like Tiffany Talbott and her son. She recalled their experiences on the city of Lake Oswego website.

“Do you want to visit the dinosaurs? I’d ask my son, Henry, when he was little. He would nod eagerly and we’d walk slowly through our neighborhood,” Talbott said.

As mother and son approached the dinosaur tree, Henry became excited as he anticipated whether they would find any new dinosaurs at the base of the tree. As his mother said, “There was an ever-changing cast of characters.” by: CLIFF NEWELL - Kathy Cody places all of the toy dinosaurs back at the base of what used to be the Dinosaur Tree so a great Lake Oswego tradition can continue.

“’There’s a new stegosaurus,’ he’d say, and we’d make up a story to explain how the stegosaurus migrated to First Addition,” Talbott said.

One of their best stories was: “Mr. T. Rex fell in love with a beautiful triceratops and they decided to move to Hollywood to work in movies.”

With the rotary dinosaur exchange program in effect at the tree you never knew what dinosaur you might find.

However, the fun and fantasy has been momentarily suspended. An examination by an arborist showed that the tree was rotting down the center and the rot was coming out the bottom.

“The tree was 35 to 50 percent rotten around the base last year, and this year it was a lot worse,” said Cody, who was sad to see the tree go. She has lived in the house for the past four years and really came to appreciate the heartwarming tradition that the dinosaur tree represented.

“When the arborists came to cut down the tree, I couldn’t bear to watch,” Cody said.

However, she did gather up the dinosaurs and placed them in her garage, because she wants the tradition to continue, even without the awesome tree.

“I want to keep it going,” Cody said. “The dinosaurs are sitting in my garage, but they’ll be out there when the arborists are finished.”

That means another generation of children will come to visit the dinosaurs, move them, exchange them and make up stories about them.

And their parents will smile.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Dinosaur Tree in Lake Oswego is gone but the dinosaurs will be back.

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