Estimated 200-year-old white oak tree cut down in Tippecanoe County

A quiet road in western Tippecanoe County is named for a centuries-old tree marking its entrance. This week, that tree on Old Oak Drive was cut down by the county.

Posted: Jul 31, 2019 6:40 PM
Updated: Aug 1, 2019 7:00 AM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - A quiet road in western Tippecanoe County is named for a centuries-old tree marking its entrance. This week, the tree on Old Oak Drive was cut down by the county.

An arborist at Purdue estimates the white oak tree could have been living for as long as 200 years. Abraham Lincoln was ten years old in 1819.

When neighbors came home on Tuesday evening to find the tree down, they said they were devastated to see the landmark was gone.

The old oak has been sitting on the corner of David Ward's property since he moved in two years ago. After storms earlier this year, he started noticing tree limbs falling too close to his house.

"We knew it might be a liability, but there was quite a bit of it left. As time went by and we thought more and more about it, we became concerned," said Ward.

Ward said the county sent an arborist to check the tree out after he reported his concerns.

"That certified arborist confirmed that it's a hazard and it probably ought to come down," added Ward.

Highway Department Executive Director Stewart Kline said the tree's main stem was 80 percent hollow and had a 15-foot long crack in it.

"I felt bad about the tree coming down, but I recognize that it was a traffic hazard," said Ward.

Purdue University Urban Forestry Specialist Lindsey Purcell said the county made the right call.

"Just based on the safety targets around here, the homeowners, the cars, bicycles, so, probably had to come down, we don't like to see old trees come down but sometimes they have to," stated Purcell.

Neighbor David Tate said he had no idea the tree would be coming down.

"So, yesterday I heard some tree work and our son came home and he said they're chopping the big oak tree down and for a lot of us around here that is kind of symbolic of this neighborhood and kind of sad to see," said Tate. "You know when you're coming down the road you turn in and you see that big majestic tree and you hate to see that it happened."

Neighbors are planning to plant another white oak tree in a similar spot, but far enough from the road so it won't become a hazard.

Ward and his family are planning on taking the wood from the tree to build a bench in memory of the tree that had been a staple in the area for years.

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