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August 1, 2017 - Chillicothe wood carver Steve Holt puts finishing touches on a mountain lion that he carved into the trunk of a swamp white oak tree at Simpson Park. He planned to cover the 7-foot carving today with a marine-grade spar varnish to soften the tones, provide UV protection, and preserve its color. Holt began tree carving in Simpson Park in 2014, with his first being a bear, which was later named "Livingston." Other carvings in the park include a lion, bear cubs, an eagle, and a totem pole. Holt has already started working on the next carving, which will be that of a raccoon family.

C-T Photos / Catherine Stortz Ripley

Totem Pole Carving
September 7, 2016, CT

A 20-foot tall totem pole featuring relief carvings of five animals on one side and a bald eagle on the other side stands near the Walnut Street entrance into Simpson Park. The totem pole was carved from an old burr oak tree that was in Simpson Park and was put into place Wednesday morning, September . The carvings on one side are those of a coyote, bobcat, fox, owl and buck. Each animal is about four feet tall. Steve Holt, who has done all of the tree carvings in Simpson Park - including four others - carved the totem pole. The totem pole was privately funded and was created in memory of the late Gary Clampitt, who enjoyed wood carving. C-T Photo by Catherine Stortz Ripley

June 8, 2016 - Local artist, Steve Holt, was hard at work on the new wooden creation below. This new (and fifth) creation for Simpson Park will be a wooden totem pole carved from an old burr oak tree. The totem pole is privately funded and is to be a memorial for the late Gary Clampitt, who enjoyed wood carving. The tree trunk that is being used for the totem pole was previously located just east of the Rotary Club shelter house in Simpson Park. Twenty feet of the 30-foot trunk is being used for the project, according to the parks department director, Josh Norris.


C-T Photo / Brittany Tutt

Holt, who has created all of the wood carvings in Simpson Park, is carving the totem pole as it lays on the ground across the road from the ball field by the park. Only one side of the trunk will be carved and will not be three-dimensional like past projects. It will be a "relief carving." Five different animals will be carved into the wood, and all will be stacked on top of one another. It was first planned for a three-dimensional eagle facing the opposite way of the relief carving to top the totem pole. However, Holt said on Monday that would not be possible. "The full size eagle is a pretty good side and there wasn't a good attachment point at the top of the trunk," Holt said. Instead, the eagle that Holt carves will sit beside the totem pole, facing the opposite way of the relief carving. Once the totem pole has been carved, it will be relocated. Currently, there is an old, short tree stump in the middle of Walnut Street in Simpson Park, just east of the croquet courts. What is now a stump used to be a 40-foot to 50-foot white oak tree. This tree was struck by lightning about six years ago and had to be taken down. The remaining stump will be removed and the totem pole will take its place. Holt began working on the totem pole last week. He debarked the trunk last week and this week he began carving the animals. Holt said there will be five animals carved into the totem pole: a coyote, bobcat, fox, owl and a buck. He has etched out the coyote and the bobcat so far. Holt said he will carve the buck (which will be at the top of the pole) last because he has to roll the trunk over and patch a hole on the other side of it where a tree limb was sticking out. Holt said each animal takes up about four feet of the pole, and it's been taking him a day or two to carve each animal. He predicts to have the totem pole completely carved by the end of June.

C-T Photos / Brittany Tutt
April 29, 2016

Pictured is the 30-foot burr oak tree trunk that will soon be cut down, and the wood will be used for wood carving sculptures. Twenty feet of the trunk will be used for a new totem pole structure.

An old tree stump in the middle of Walnut Street in Simpson Park will soon be removed and replaced by a wooden totem pole.

A wooden totem pole carved from an old burr oak tree trunk will soon add to the beauty of Simpson Park. This totem pole will be the fifth wood carving to be incorporated into the park. The first carving was of a black bear (now named Livingston) in May 2014. Since the black bear carving, there has been a lion carving (April 2015), a bear cub carving (June 2015) and an eagle carving (July 2015). Josh Norris, Chillicothe Parks Department director, said the totem pole will be a memorial for the late Gary Clampitt (who enjoyed wood carving), and it is privately funded. The burr oak tree (which is now just a large 30-foot trunk sticking out of the ground), located just east of the Rotary Club shelter house in Simpson Park, will be used to make the totem pole. Twenty feet of the trunk will be used for the totem pole and the remaining 10 feet will be used for a future project. The old trunk will be cut down and local artist, Steve Holt (who has created all of the wood carvings in Simpson Park), will carve the totem pole as it lays on the ground. Only one side of the trunk will be carved and will not be three-dimensional like past projects. It will be what Norris describes as a "relief carving." Various animals will be carved into the wood and all will be stacked on top of one another. An eagle will top the totem pole. This eagle will be carved separately and be three-dimensional. Once the totem pole has been carved, it will be relocated. Currently, there is an old, short tree stump in the middle of Walnut Street in Simpson Park, just east of the croquet courts. What is now a stump used to be a 40-foot to 50-foot white oak tree. This tree was struck by lightning about six years ago and had to be taken down. The remaining stump will be removed, a concrete pad will be poured in its place and the totem pole will be placed on top of the concrete pad. The totem pole will not be placed down into the concrete pad but rather attached to the concrete by a large spike that will be driven up into the center of the totem pole. There will also be a notch cut out of the wood that will run up the back side of the pole (on the opposite side of the relief carving). Square tubing will fill the notch and will be secured with bands to better support the large wooden sculpture. The eagle on top of the totem pole will face south toward the ball field and the relief carving side of the pole will face north toward the Country Club, according to Norris. Norris said he hopes to cut down and move the old trunk next week, weather permitting. He expects the carving to take about a month, and he hopes to have the entire project completed by the end of May. Norris said that in addition to the totem pole, the community can expect one to two more wood carvings to be added to the park this summer.

Eagle Carving
June 23, 2015 CT


C-T Photo / Brittany Tutt

In order for local wood carver, Steve Holt, to get rid of the scaffolding surrounding his latest creation in Simpson Park, carving was put on hold yesterday and today so he could paint and varnish the parts of the eagle he would not be able to reach without the scaffolding. Yesterday, he painted the eagle with acrylic paint, and this morning he was putting on varnish containing UV protector. Next, he will carve and paint the base of sculpture. He expects to be done before the 4th of July, weather permitting. This eagle stands at 13 feet tall and is the tallest sculpture Holt has ever created.

This eagle sculpture is Holt's fourth creation he has made for the park, and it is currently the tallest sculpture he has ever created, standing at 13 feet tall. The eagle itself will be about 8 feet tall. According to Holt, once he is finished carving the head of the eagle, the rest of the sculpture will be easy because the head of the sculpture sets the attitude and the proportion size for the rest of the piece. Holt is excited to get done with the head of the eagle and start working on the detailed feathers the sculpture will possess. He's also looking forward to working on the texture of the sculpture. Holt is already coordinating with the parks department on plans for creating another wooden sculpture in the park by the end of the summer. This sculpture will be a totem pole, and Holt said he believes there will be a howling coyote on the top of the totem pole.

Bear Cubs Added to Park
June 3, 2015 
By CATHERINE STORTZ RIPLEY

C-T Photos / Catherine Stortz Ripley

June 3, 2015 - Artist Steve Holt finished painting the cubs this week. He will apply a marine-grade varnish to the carving when the weather cooperates.

May 15, 2015 - Local woodcarver and chainsaw artist Steve Holt is carving bear cubs into the stump of an dead oak tree at Simpson Park. This is Holt's third carving at the park.

A pair of black bear cubs are being introduced in Simpson Park. The cubs are part of a series of tree carvings being created by local woodcarver and chainsaw artist Steve Holt. Last year, Holt created the park's first carving, which was a nine-foot black bear named "Livingston." Earlier this spring, he carved an eight-foot lion structure in a dead tree near the playground. His current carving depicts two bear cubs climbing a tree. The carving is about 50 feet from the lion and bear and will be done in such a way that the bear cubs will be facing motorists as they enter Simpson Park. Holt began working on the dead oak tree two weeks ago by removing its bark. He started carving on Monday, May 4. He plans to complete the project next week, weather permitting. As with his previous carvings, Holt began his bear cubs project with a drawing, then conducted research and carved a rough model. After the bear cubs are completed, Holt will begin working on a tree stump in the circle drive near the park's Washington Street entrance. That carving will be of an eagle, estimated to be about four feet tall. The eagle will be sitting at a 60 degree angle and will be posed as if it just came in for a landing, with its wings at its side. Its head will be turned, looking down the road to where the bears are located. Simpson Park's tree carving program began as a way to get extended benefits from trees that are dying, according to Josh Norris, Chillicothe Parks and Recreation director. Each carving has a base carved into the design so that the carvings could be cut from the base and relocated if the base starts to deteriorate.

Lion is Newest Park Carving
By CATHERINE STORTZ RIPLEY
April 17, 2015

CAPTION: The trunk of an old swamp white oak tree is being transformed into an eight-foot lion structure near the children's playground at Simpson Park. Local woodcarver Steve Holt began the process a week ago and was finishing the carving process today. The lion will be stained black and tan when completed.


C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley

Local woodcarver Steve Holt began his second tree carving in Simpson Park a week ago and was finishing the carving process today. The project is that of an eight-foot lion being carved into the stump of a swamp white oak tree. The stump measures 112 inches in circumference. When completed, the lion will be black and tan (see "after" photo below). Holt said that he will use an Austrian timber oil that will preserve the wood and give it an auburn color. A base will be carved at the bottom of the stump so that the carving can be relocated at a later date, if needed.


The staining of the lion at Simpson Park was completed Wednesday, April 29, 2015, by Steve Holt.
CT Photo 04/29/15

The lion carving was inspired by the lion head drinking fountain, a popular fixture of the children's playground since 1972. The carving is being made possible by a private donation.

The lion is among three carvings planned for this year. Up next is the carving of two bear cubs climbing a tree, which is planned for an area just south of the lion creation, between the lion and Livingston the bear. An eagle carving is planned for the center of the circle drive. Holt completed the park's first carving last year. It was that of a nine-foot bear named "Livingston," located along the walking trail just east of the new carving and the children's playground.

Simpson Park's tree carving program began as way to get extended benefits from trees that are dying. "We were seeing a lot of trees reach the end of their life cycle," said Parks and Recreation Director Josh Norris. "We are trying to get more use out of the trees instead of cutting them down and taking them away completely." He said that the tree carving program has been popular and well-received by community members and visitors. Norris said, "We got a lot of complements about Livingston during the Chautauqua and the car show."

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