COLUMBIA — John Sam Williamson Jr. on Friday noticed something different — and unwelcome — about the state champion bur oak that's been in his family for six generations.
Spray-painted on the tree, in big red letters: "PROM?"
Over the years, people have carved their initials, names and even shot the tree. "I just hate to see vandalism," he said.
Williamson said the paint won't damage the tree because the bark is already dead. He's learned from experience that the best approach is to let it come off on its own.
"It is worse to try to scrape it off or take it off with a paint thinner," Williamson said.
He said it might take several months for the spray paint to wear off.
The bur oak, situated in the Missouri River bottoms between McBaine and Huntsdale, stands 90 feet tall, almost 24 feet around and 7 1/2 feet in diameter. Its estimated age is 350 years.
Supervising editor is John Schneller.