A 600-Year-Old Oak Tree Finally Succumbs
BASKING RIDGE, N.J. — The locals say that George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette — the Frenchman who bankrolled the American patriots with cold, hard cash — picnicked in the shade it provided. Rank-and-file soldiers are said to have rested under it, gathering strength before going on to beat the redcoats.
It is a huge oak tree, now estimated to be 600 years old. Arborists such as Rob Gillies consider it one of the oldest in North America. It is a local landmark, right there in the cemetery of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church.
On Thursday, Mr. Gillies sliced into it with a chain saw.
Not the trunk, rotund and rotted inside and long since shored up with cement, like a cavity in a bad tooth. Mr. Gillies, who is 52 and has long experience in teasing extra life out of old trees, took aim at the upper reaches.