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Community reluctantly bids farewell to 600-year-old tree
28 April 2017, 01:06 | Stacy Allen
Community reluctantly bidding farewell to 600-year-old tree
The 600 year old White Oak that stands in Bernard, New Jersey has died and is being cut down.
The tree has stood witness to history and milestones since the town's inception in the 1700s. They were due to return to the church Tuesday - weather permitting - to continue the process, which is expected to be completed by Wednesday.
A dying oak tree where the first USA president, George Washington, picnicked during the American Revolution was cut down on Monday, April 24.
The 600-year-old tree, known as the Great White Oak, was dying.
The beloved giant white oak, located among headstones in Basking Ridge church graveyard, was cut down after it died previous year. The huge Oak, in the past has been the site of formal pictures and has been routinely used as a landmark for driving directions.
'I know it seems amusing to some to mourn a tree, but I'm really going to miss seeing it, ' said Bernards resident Monica Evans, recalling family photos during weddings and communions. "It's a sad sight to see it come down", said one resident.
Keith Keiling, owner of Keiling Tree Care in Basking Ridge, said he expects the removal of the tree will be finished today, despite predicted rain.
Parishioner John Klippel told the network that "loss, or the anticipation of loss, is traumatic". It stands about 100 feet tall, has a trunk circumference of 18 feet and has a branch spread of roughly 150 feet. At first, officials thought they would be able to simply remove segments of the larger limbs, but the rot was too severe. The tree has served as a scenic backdrop for thousands of photographs over the years and according to legend, was a spot where George Washington once held a picnic.
The Rev George Whitefield, a noted evangelist, also preached to more than 3,000 people beneath the tree in 1740.
"It's just always been there, it's always been a part of my town and now it's time to just say goodbye", Amanda Hughes said Monday. "We've been blessed to have it here".
Residents of Bernards in New Jersey watched on as crews cut down the enormous tree - believed to have been one of the oldest in the country.
"It's going to live on in everybody's memory", said Karen Hilde of Bernardsville, a member of the congregation for 19 years. 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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