Living Murrysville sign badly needs repair

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No one would mistake Murrysville for Hollywood; after all, it is not the home of the stars. But they do have something in common.

High up on a hillside, quiet as time itself, huge letters spelling out the town's name sit as silent sentries.

While Hollywood's sign is made of white wooden letters, the Murrysville sign, just above Mount Pleasant Road (40°25'23.65"N 79°41'46.81"W) is made of trees.

In fact, in the 1940s it was noted in the Guinness World Records as the largest arboreal sign in the world and it remains one the largest still. As a living sign it not only grows older, it grows bigger.

In 1933, under the direction of businessman Finley M. Sloan, the Boy Scouts planted 850 Scotch and red pine trees spelling out the name of the community.

The Scouts were paid 50 cents a day and the sign was planted over a four-year period. Having outgrown itself over the years, the sign was re-planted in 1979 and 1981, but deer ate 90 percent of the seedlings.

Finally in 1983, 800 four to six foot tall Norway and blue spruce trees were successfully installed and the name was back. Now, those same trees are 35 to 40 feet tall.

Murrysville head administrator Jim Morrison told council members last week that the tree sign is overgrown again and the letters are beginning to become unreadable.

"There has been no maintenance in three years.

"The sign is in a state of disrepair and it is up to council to decide whether we are going to maintain it or not," Mr. Morrision said.

He also said that the volunteer group that has maintained the sign in the past, the Sportsmen and Landowners Alliance of Murrysville (SLAM), is having a tough time with it.

Council members discussed several options for assessing the scope of work necessary to clear and maintain the sign, including contacting Penn State's school of forestry and other local arborists.

The most recent estimated cost to replace the 800 trees would exceed $85,000.

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Tim Means, freelance writer:


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