When Teri Critchlow took a quick break Wednesday afternoon, it was a well-deserved bit of rest.
She had been up since 4:30 a.m., awoken by a massive cottonwood tree that fell and destroyed the woodworking shop of her husband, Neldon. A flurry of family and neighbors ferried out a mixture of broken and intact tools, while chainsaws began to work on the massive bulk of the tree.
Critchlow said the tree, which is believed to be more than 100 years old, had been leaning east as it aged. It was a surprise when it fell in a southerly direction, landing directly on the rear of the woodshop, she said.
“It could have been worse,” Critchlow said. “Not one person was hurt, not one animal was hurt.”
The Critchlows had a horse barn and paddock that narrowly avoided the path of the tree, with the horses moved to a different corral while the tree was cleaned up.
The massive cottonwood tree may date back to the days of the original Grantsville Fort, according to Critchlow. She said the tree appeared to still be alive, as it had budded out last spring, though much later than another cottonwood on their property.
While the tree fell during the rainstorm that began Tuesday evening, there weren’t high winds during the time the tree toppled, Critchlow. A second tree fell to the north, landing on a section of a neighbor’s fence and causing minimal damage to the soffit on their home.
“There may have been wind but I didn’t really hear wind,” Critchlow said. “And when I came out, I didn’t feel any then.”
The woodworking shop where Neldon Critchlow built furniture and other pieces was full of power tools, hand tools, wood and unfinished projects. The Critchlows garage was full of tools, hardware and other recovered items from the shop by Wednesday afternoon, with more still being pulled from the wreckage.
A band saw and table saw were among the equipment pulled from the wreckage in seemingly good shape, but additional tools were still buried or damaged.
“So we’re trying to salvage whatever tools we can before we get more rain tonight, so thank God I have awesome brothers and neighbors,” Teri Critchlow said.
Somewhere under the tree, which sported a trunk about 7 feet in diameter, was an ash table intended for the breakfast nook, Critchlow said. Another victim of the collapse was a cherry china hutch, which was nearly completed.
“All it needed was the glass and the doors and the hardware,” she said.
The pieces of a rocking horse for their granddaughter and a graduation gift were discovered in the wreckage, with the possibility of repair. The cleanup crew was looking for somewhere to put wood not yet used in projects that would be damaged by upcoming rainstorms.
Teri Critchlow was able to get the day off from work after telling her boss about the tree, but said Neldon was unable to, so the help for cleanup efforts was a big boost.
“We’ve saved a lot, thanks to everybody’s help,” Critchlow said. “I mean, there’s no way I could have done this by myself without everybody coming today. A couple phone calls and before you know it, there’s tons of people here. Thank God for small towns.”
If the tree does date back to the days of the Grantsville Fort, it would be older than 100 years. The fort was built by pioneers starting in 1853 and was finished the next year, according to the book “History of Utah’s Tooele County” by the Tooele County Daughters of Utah Pioneers.