For as long as Madison has been a city, this American elm has stood its ground, limbs splayed like fingers against the sky.
It was likely here in 1850, when the UW platted an expansion, plopping a new grid upon the old at University and Gorham.
The Madison that existed then and the one springing into being met at this spot, as the road's odd bend to this day attests.
Here the elm rose upward, on the edge of this thoroughfare, a witness to history unfolding, a guardian over all.
Multitudes have passed beneath it, refreshed in the cool of its sprawling canopy, a sudden splash of shadow.
Buggies have chugged past and cars zipped by, their occupants' gaze pulled upward, or soothed at eye level by its girth.
In the late 1960s, when Dutch elm disease inflicted deadly pestilence, it was among the few - and most mighty - to survive.
Now, in the summer of 2007, comes grim news: This great elm is dying, and fast. Disease has infected it, beyond saving.
Dutch elm has clogged its vessels, denying sustenance. Its leaves will soon wither, and chainsaws bisect its 57-inch waist.
"We've all very saddened here at forestry," says head forester Marla Eddy. "It is a monument." Farewell to thee, wondrous tree.