Hurricane Sandy damage: How old was this tree and what did it witness?

While some might say, “so what, its a tree. Just plant another one.”  There’s at least one reader out there who will appreciate this thought of the day.

Last week I noticed a fallen tree on the National Mall along 14th Street NW.


The tree fell victim to the high winds from Hurricane Sandy, experienced earlier in the week.


I’m not a “tree expert” by any stretch.  But this looks to be an oak. The exact species, I cannot tell.

Ever inquisitive about such things, I made some rough “field estimates” on the size of the tree.  Near the base the truck was four feet in diameter.  That translates to about 12 feet in circumference, or near abouts.


So… how old was that tree?  According to a guide from the Woodlands Trust, figure that translates to between 150 and 170 years old.

If so, had the photographer of this photo…

… just turned around, would he have seen that oak tree as a young sapling?

And even if the tree was less than 150 years old, what events did it witness while it stood?



2 thoughts on “Hurricane Sandy damage: How old was this tree and what did it witness?

  1. As some know, my wife Deborah Fitts first put in print the phrase, “Witness Tree,” when she was the Assistant Editor of the Civil War News, and also the first Communications Director of the Civil War Trust. It would have broken Deb’s heart to know this venerable witness tree on our National Mall was destroyed by a storm. She loved old trees like no one I have ever known, and we could not bike past an old tree without her parking her bike and admiring the tree.

    Deborah was also one of the few people to be able to identify all of the witness trees on the Gettysburg Battlefield.

    Clark B. Hall

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