The McKinley Stump in Chehalis is removed on October 23, 2007.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 11/14/2007
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8374

On October 23, 2007, city crews in Chehalis remove the McKinley Stump, a city landmark for more than a century. Originally intended as a speaking platform for President William McKinley (1843-1901) in 1901, the giant stump has become riddled with ants. A replica stump will be installed in 2008.

Speaking Platform 

In May 1901, the stump was cut from a 360-year-old Douglas Fir tree near Pe Ell, and transported to Chehalis to serve as a speaking platform for President William McKinley. The trip was canceled when McKinley’s wife took ill. A few months later, McKinley was assassinated, and Vice-President Roosevelt assumed the presidency.

In 1903, Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) gave a "stump speech" atop it, and was the only U.S. President to do so. William H. Taft (1857-1930) used it as a podium in 1907, when he was Secretary of War. He was elected president in 1908.  

The stump, along with a pagoda-like structure built over it, was originally located near the intersection of West Street and Market Boulevard, but was later moved closer to the nearby railroad depot. In the late 1940s, vandals set fire to the stump, and concrete had to be added to the burned portion to hold it together. The landmark was then moved to Recreation Park, which was considered to be more secure.

Forces of Nature 

By 2007, the stump was infested with carpenter ants and the decision was made to remove it. The Lewis County Historical Society had hoped to save a cross-section, but when city crews cut into the stump they discovered that it was rotten throughout. Pieces near the top that were under the pagoda were in better shape, and will eventually be placed in the local museum.

The Lewis County Historical Society worked with the Weyerhaeuser Company to replace the stump with an old growth tree cut down near Tenino. The replica stump was placed under the newly restored pagoda in June 2008.

Sources: "At Chehalis, President Talks for Fifteen Minutes in Advocacy of the Strenuous Life," The Seattle Times, May 23, 1903, p. 2; "Chehalis Gives Warm Welcome," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 23, 1903, p. 14; "McKinley Stump Comes Apart," The Chronicle, October 24, 2007, (http://www.chronline.com/); Eric Schwartz, "Return of the Pagoda," Ibid., June 19, 2008; "Replacement for Historic McKinley Stump Arrives in Chehalis," KOMOnews.com, January 18, 2008 (http://www.komonews.com/news/local/13909617.html).
Note: This essay was updated on October 17, 2013.

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