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The fate officials feared five years ago has finally befallen the iconic Richland County oak tree featured in the film "The Shawshank Redemption."
After a storm split the tree in half in August 2011, an Ohio State Parks manager worried that the next storm could knock down the rest of the estimated two-century-old tree, according to a Dispatch report.
Richland County officials have received word that the tree, located on a privately owned farm adjacent to Malabar Farm State Park near Mansfield, had fallen. Wind was thought to be the cause.
The call reporting the downed tree came to the Mansfield/Richland County Convention and Visitor's Bureau before 2pm on Friday (local time), said Jodie Snavely, a group tour director.
"It's obviously very sad for everyone and Shawshank fans," she said. "It was really inevitable that it was going to happen."
Based on a 1982 novella written by Stephen King, "The Shawshank Redemption" centers around Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins), who is wrongly imprisoned for his wife's murder. He quickly befriends another prisoner, Red (Morgan Freeman) and spends 20 years battling prison management before escaping.
The tree is featured in one of the final scene's of the 1994 film, when Red, who has been granted parole after 40 years of incarceration, travels to Buxton, Maine, where under the tree he uncovers a cache of money and a letter from Dufresne asking him to meet him in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.
In the 22 years since, the oak tree has become a popular tourist destination spot as one of 14 Ohio sites where the movie was filmed. Many of the prison scenes were shot at the former Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield.
Though visitors are prohibited from stepping onto the private land, scores of people a year would gaze at and photograph the 100-foot tree from afar.
"Shawshank fans will probably still make the pilgrimage here to see where it was," Snavely said. "We encourage people to come out and see what's left -tree or no tree, stump or no stump."