Where Palm Trees in Donetsk originate from?

The emblem of Donetsk region disorients visitors of Donetsk city.




The matter is that a palm tree is depicted on Donetsk region emblem. But why was a palm tree selected as a symbol of the land of coal and metal? After all, no palms grow in the steppe…


This story traces its roots back to 1895. Those days a worker of Yuzovskij (currently Donetsk) Metallurgical Plant Aleksei Mertsalov produced a hammered palm tree of three-meter height from the entire railroad rail. He managed to produce it manually without any welding.



At that time the plant manager John Hughes needed to make the Russian government think that railroad rails produced by its plant were of high quality. But those days their railroad rails had a poor reputation. The entrepreneur was going to promote the “Yuz Rails” at the Overall Russian Industrial Exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod. It was necessary to expose something special that would be rememberable and make the plant famous. The most attracting option for Hughes was Mertsalov’s idea, and the hammer specialist started his work. Together with his assistant Philip Shkarin they hammed a real masterpiece that was 3,5 meter in height and half a ton in weight. They used only a hammer and chisel as an equipment to produce the palm tree for three weeks.


«The leaves are springy, despite they are made for steel and compose a single whole with its trunk», the newspapers wrote.


A neat piece of craftwork done by Mertsalov amazes modern craft hammer specialists. But the technological process remains a mystery…


Success of Yuzovskaya Palm Tree at the exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod was striking. The amazing work produced by the metallurgical plant received recognition and award. Several years later in 1900 году Mertsalov’s Palm Tree was awarded with the Grand-prize at the World Exhibition in Paris which was a beneficial promotion for Yuzovsky Plant.


In 1999 Mertslov’s work was remembered again and it was decided that the palm tree deserved to be allocated in Donetsk region emblem. But disputes over that have not calmed down so far…. Since old times a palm tree has been a symbol of victory and success. Not without reason, a palm tree is awarded to winners of Cannes Festival.


The original palm tree is now kept in Saint Petersburg Mine Institute. In Donetsk it is possible to find and make some photos near the steel palm tree duplicates. There are a couple of them in Donetsk city, one of them is located near the building of Donetsk State Administration on Pushkin Boulevard


and another one is close to the Expo Donbass Exhibition Centre. Today a palm tree made from steel is possible to buy in souvenir shops as a remembrance.


Moreover, it was a tradition to present a palm tree to foreign political activists. For example, Donetsk Palm Tree is owned by world-known Hollywood “terminator”, Governor of California State (The USA) Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Donetsk Steel palm trees were erected in Canada and German as friendly presents.


Between 2001 and 2004 mountain climbers from Donetsk took the steel palm trees of half a meter height to seven the highest mountain points of the world, which are Elbrus, Aconcagua, McKinley, Everest, Mount Wilhelm, and Mount Vinson. And after coming back from the mountain peaks, the climbers presented duplicates of the palm trees to the foreign embassies. Thus, Donetsk popularizes its history and culture all over the world. 

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