INDEPENDENCE, Kan. (KSNW) — The community of Independence has lost a beloved historic tree.

The Riverside Park elm tree had stood in the park for as long as residents could remember. But unfortunately, the tree had to come down after Dutch Elm Disease killed it.

Park, Zoo, and Cemetery Director Scott Patton tells KSN News that the tree was believed to be between 170 to 200 years old, but a close inspection of its rings turned up several surprises.

First, the tree was actually closer to 130 to 150 years old based on the counting of rings. Second, it wasn’t one tree but four trees that had grown together.

It’s a process called inosculation. Basically, four trees grew near each other and eventually grew together, appearing to be a single tree.

The rings of the trees also showed signs of historical events like a flood and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

Patton says cut sections of the trees will be displayed and used for educational purposes. They are also working on ideas to preserve the remaining stump, but Patton says everything is in very preliminary stages, and no decisions have been made.