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Dying 'George Washington Tree' Cut Down

Dying 'George Washington Tree' Cut Down

Dying 'George Washington Tree' Cut Down

Television news helicopters hovered over the scene about 30 miles west of NY.

The 600-year-old white oak in Basking Ridge, N.J. was declared dead last year and crews started to cut it down on Monday.

Experts say fewer trees are replicating the old oak's 600-year lifespan.

The cut wood from the old tree will be used to make crosses and mementoes for churchgoers, and since the roots are likely tangled up in the historic human remains, the stump will also be left in place, and a plaque will be put on the site.

The tree had stood for three centuries when the founders of Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church made a decision to build the first church, a long cabin, by it in 1717.

It is believed that the 100-foot tall tree, with its branches that extend out to 150 feet, was the site of a picnic between General George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette.

But there is a silver lining for tree fans: Another white oak cultivated from the old tree's acorns was recently planted at the church, so its legacy will continue at the church.

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"If we go back in to the church records and look at the bill that came in from the tree company in 1924, there is a line item that says 3 tons of concrete", he said.

Arborists determined it would not withstand many more winters or spring storms.

'Yeah, no one thought about the tree dying.

"It's a really big symbol, welcoming to see every year and so sad to watch it go", said resident Marie Young.

"It has been an integral part of the town, that's for sure", said Jon Klippel, a member of the church's planning council. Officials say the crews plan to initially remove the large limb segments until there is a large trunk section still standing, then remove that section in one piece.

Even though the town has known for many months the tree would soon be gone, that doesn't make its coming absence any easier, Malay observed.

"Everyone knew the tree", Periera said, and indeed not everyone who at the church on Monday morning was from Basking Ridge. "We've been blessed to have it here". It now stands about 20 feet tall. They note that several factors - including droughts, intensive wildfires and invasive insects - that can greatly harm trees, which become more susceptible to damage as they age.

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