Crews start taking down 600-year-old tree

Crews start taking down 600-year-old tree

It's expected to take two or three days to remove the entire tree from the bedroom community about 30 miles west of NY, which has long celebrated its white oak.

A 600-year-old oak tree where US President George Washington once picnicked has been chopped down.

The beloved giant white oak, located among headstones in Basking Ridge church graveyard, was cut down after it died previous year.

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez). In a photograph taken Friday, April 21, 2017, a street sign warns motorists of upcoming work to remove a 600-year-old white oak tree, back, at Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church in Bernards, N.J. Crews are scheduled to remove th. It's expected to take two to three days to complete. It stands adjacent to the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church, which was founded in 1717; its branches hang over a graveyard which includes Revolutionary War veterans.

Over the years, the tree served as a backdrop for countless family photos and even shielded George Washington from the sun during a few picnics during the American Revolution, according to legend.

Using acorns from the old tree, another white oak has been planted elsewhere on the church's property.

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Arborists say the tree had stood for almost 300 years before the church was built in 1717. Arborists determined it wouldn't be able to withstand many more harsh winters or spring storms.

People from all over New Jersey visited the tree on Sunday to get a last glimpse of the 100-foot tall tree.

'Yeah, no one thought about the tree dying.

"Everybody that has ever lived here has recognized that tree as sort of a symbol of home", parishioner John Klippel said last fall. "It's a sad sight to see it come down".

"It has been an integral part of the town, that's for sure", Jon Klippel, a member of the church's planning council, told WABC. "We've been blessed to have it here".

Despite the tree's condition, some Bernards, New Jersey, residents were stumped as to why it needed to be removed. A much younger 25-foot white oak grew from an acorn that fell from the huge mother tree. 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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