White oak tree planted on George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate 230 YEARS ago that had carvings from the Civil War FALLS OVER on windless night
- The 115-foot-tall tree was said to have suddenly fallen the night of November 4
- Mount Vernon caretakers said they heard the noise of the tree falling
- The tree was said to have fallen on it’s own and that it wasn’t a windy night
- The tree was the last of three white oaks that had Civil War-era carvings on them
- It’s estimated that the tree was 230 years old and planted in at least 1780
A 230-year-old tree at George Washington’s Mount Vernon is said to have suddenly fallen down in the middle of the night in early November.
Caretakers at George and Martha Washington’s historic home in Mount Vernon, Virginia, said they heard the 115-foot-tall white oak topple over, across a road, shortly before midnight on November 4.
Mount Vernon’s director of horticulture, Dean Norton, told the Washington Post that there was no wind at the time, ‘It just falls over.’
Mount Vernon director of horticulture Dean Norton is seen chiseling at part of the 230-year-old white oak that fell across a road on George Washington’s historic property November 4
The 115-foot-tall tree, part of which is shown here, was estimated to have been planted in 1780
Norton said that the tree – which measured about 12 feet around – wasn’t sick and noted that ‘trees just give up, on occasion.’
Norton was able to conservatively estimate the tree’s age to be about 230 years old, dating it back to at least 1780 – making it nearly as old as the United States is.
The determination was made by cutting the end of the tree and measuring the rings.
‘The tree could be older than 1780,’ Norton admitted, ‘but I can honestly say that it at least goes back to that.’
Norton said that it was possible that Washington had had the tree purposely transplanted as a sapling from the local woods onto his property because it stood in what seemed to be a man-made triangle of three trees about a half mile away from the mansion.
The trees were the same species and age and were never cut down, meaning the trees were planted about 20 years after Washington took over the plantation in 1761.
The white oak was that last left standing of three trees that had been planted in a triangle configuration at the same time. The trees bore Civil War-era carvings (pictured)
A photo (left) taken in 1932 shows the star and cross insignia that visiting Union troops carved into the trio of white oak trees. It’s thought that George Washington (right) transplanted the trees as saplings from the local woods onto his property
The white oaks were planted in what appeared to be a man-made triangle about a half mile away from Washington’s Mount Vernon mansion (pictured)
Mount Vernon’s Dean Norton (pictured), said it was ‘incredibly sad’ that the 230-year-old tree had fallen as it was ‘the last living witness’ to George and Martha Washington’s history
Consequently, Norton said, ‘To me, they were intentionally, not only planted, but saved.’
The 230-year-old white oak that fell in early November was the last remaining of the tree trio.
The first of them fell about 40 years ago and the second fell in August 2018.
The trees were particularly notable not just because of their age, but because they bore historical markings.
According to the Mount Vernon estate, the recently fallen white oak was the last oak tree on the property bearing Civil War-era carvings left behind by visiting Union regiments who were at the estate in May 1865.
The carvings on the tree included a star and a cross, the insignia of two Union Army corps.
Norton said that the tree falling was ‘incredibly sad’ because it was ‘the last living witness’ to George and Martha Washington’s history – the tree was there when Washington’s presidency ended – as well as the Civil War.
‘It had kind of this double bit of history,’ Norton said.
The Mount Vernon estate said its preservation department would use the wood from the fallen tree and the leftover wood would be turned into products for the estate to use.