Shawshank Redemption oak tree falls and fans grieve

Image source, @midwest_cowgirl

One of the most iconic trees in cinematic history is no more - a victim of the wind.

The white oak tree from the classic 1994 film Shawshank Redemption has been felled in Mansfield, Ohio.

The tree appears near the end of the movie when Morgan Freeman's character Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding follows clues to its location.

Staff at a local visitors' centre received a call on Friday informing them that the entire oak was down.

Part of the tree had already fallen when it was split by lightning in a storm on 29 July 2011 - almost five years previously to the day.

"From what we know, winds knocked the tree over," Jodie Snavely, from the Mansfield and Richland County Convention and Visitors' Bureau told the Mansfield News Journal.

"It's obviously quite sad for Shawshank fans. But we tell fans that visitors can still come to see the Shawshank oak tree while it's here," she said.

'Goodbye old Shawshank oak'

The tree was one of the most popular tourist sites connected to the movie. When half the oak was lost after the 2011 storm, a story from the Mansfield News Journal went viral.

People have been posting images of the tree and reflections on its sentimental value on social media.

Image source, Dillon Carr

Dillon Carr from Mansfield, Ohio posted an image of the fallen oak on Instagram with this message:

"Rode my bike with some fellow Shawshank Redemption fans this morning to say a final farewell to the famous oak tree that fell yesterday.

"Goodbye old Shawshank oak. You will live on in nostalgia."

Other fans have taken to Twitter to write their goodbyes to the beloved oak.

Image source, @ScotTerna

Many have been including quotes from the film, such as "no good thing ever dies" from the Andy Dufresne character, played by Tim Robbins.

Image source, @DonHarris4
Image source, @TimsTakeCLE

'Promise me, Red'

Near the movie's end, Morgan Freeman's character "Red" Redding opens up a box buried near the base of the tree. It contains a letter and cash to buy a bus ticket to see old friend Andy Dufresne, who had fled to Mexico after escaping prison.

The oak tree was where Dufresne had proposed to his wife.

"Promise me, Red. If you ever get out... find that spot," Dufresne had told Redding one day in prison.

Taking a cue from the film, Jeff Gentner from Savannah, Georgia proposed to his partner under the tree when it was still standing. He posted this striking image of the oak in better days.

Image source, Jeff Gentner

He wrote on Instagram: "A few weeks ago Mollie and I got engaged! Back in 2009 while watching Shawshank Redemption, Mollie said, 'You should propose to me under that tree someday'. I didn't forget. This is the actual oak tree from the movie."

Jeff told the BBC the couple are sad that they will never be able to show their children the tree where they got engaged.

"I knew that the tree didn't have long since the lighting strike. I'm grateful we were able to pull the engagement off before it was gone!"

By Nathan Williams, BBC News