On Monday the 24th of April, Basking Ridge, New Jersey lost a piece of its history. The town’s ailing 600-year-old white oak tree had to be cut down. This oak had resided next to the Presbyterian Church on Oak Street. It was reputed to be the oldest such tree in North America.
A Great White Oak Tree And Its 600 Year Reign Ended.
A proper perspective is that the tree pre-dated the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the new world. However, the white oak guaranteed its place in history during the American Revolutionary War. George Washington together with the Marquis de Lafayette are said to have picnicked under the tree while they strategized about the war.
The great white oak’s roots were part of a Revolutionary War cemetery. It stood 100 feet tall and had a trunk circumference of about 18 feet. In recent years, the tree’s health began to deteriorate. Every year it yielded fewer and fewer leaves and began to develop rot. Arborists said the tree was unlikely to survive over another harsh winter.
Town officials reluctantly decided to cut it down, perhaps to protect the graves in the historic revolutionary war cemetery. Many of the town residents came to bid farewell to the white oak. It was the venue for generations of weddings, communions, and family photos.
Despite the demise of the great white oak, it will leave behind a legacy. Back in 2001, Dr. Thomas M. Ombrello, a Union County College professor, collected the old tree’s acorns and started raising a sapling. The new white oak tree now stands over 20 feet tall.
Dr. Ombrello donated the new tree back to the church. This will now grow close to where the old tree used to reside. The tree now serves as a symbol during Holy Week. Hopefully, it will experience its own 600-year reign.
Image Source: Wikimedia