Basking Ridge Bids Farewell to Historic 600-Year-Old Oak Tree


Art credits to Divya Agrawal!

Marina Chiafullo ‘20

On November 6, 2016, the town of Basking Ridge will say its final goodbyes to the historic 600-year-old white oak tree in the center of town. A special service will be conducted by the Somerset Tree Committee to honor this tree’s significance in both the town and history itself.

The white oak stood in this town almost 300 years longer than any inhabitants. However, the tree seemed to be showing unhealthy signs for the past couple months. The leaves are not filling in the way they should, and the bark is rotting. The committee for this tree had recently decided it was best and safest that the tree be cut down between the months of November and April.

Every young adult and child who has grown up in Basking Ridge has always known the tree as a historic focal point. Meaghan McEnroe ‘20 reflected on this event by saying, “It’s nostalgic, because I’ve grown up with this tree.”

This oak tree is the oldest in the United States. It was already centuries old when Basking Ridge was settled in 1720’s by the British and the Scottish. At that time, this tree was around 300 years old. The entire town was built around this landmark; historical figures such as George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette picnicked there during the time of the Revolutionary War. It is a cultural and historical monument in Basking Ridge. Curiosity has arisen among the citizens of the town, wondering: “What happens next?”

The committee has been considering several ideas, including crafting little statues and trinkets with the wood from the tree, or even making small things such as necklaces or wood as souvenirs to give to the residents. Another idea would be to make a statue based off of the cement on the interior of the tree. Nothing is set in stone; these are just suggestions. However, as Laozi once said, “Sometimes gain comes from losing.” Perhaps losing this tree may aid the town in new ways. The question still remains: “What happens next?”