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Goodbye old friend

A historic white oak tree located in the campus area known as Under the Oaks succumbs to ice damage and rot.

The white oak tree that was removed from Under the Oaks was about 140 years old, and pre-dated the founding of Elon College.

A massive and historic oak tree in the area known as Under the Oaks was removed April 3 because of damage related to this winter's ice storm. The tree was more than 140 years old and was the last remaining tree in that part of the campus that pre-dated the founding of the college.

"As much as it pains me to remove the tree, it is a hazardous situation," said Tom Flood, assistant director of physical plant and director of landscaping and grounds. Flood said the tree began to lean heavily and the root system was giving way on one side of the tree due to rot. The tons of ice that built up on the tree during March storm triggered the problem. Flood said there was a danger that the tree would fall in a wind storm or a heavy rainstorm that saturated the soil.

Flood estimated the age of the tree based on another white oak tree that died nearby a few years ago. He said there are only three or four trees left on campus that were here when the college was founded in 1889. The grove of oak trees that was the setting for the original campus gave the college its name – Elon, the Hebrew word for oak.

Generations of Elon students have enjoyed the area in front of West Hall and next to Whitley Auditorium, and the tree provided shade for thousands of Elon graduates during Commencement and for new students at Opening Convocations.

Generations of Elon students enjoyed the shade of this white oak tree.

Flood said he had to move quickly to remove this tree and plant another large specimen in its place before Commencement ceremonies, scheduled for May 24. He is currently working to bring a 10-inch diameter, 25-foot-tall oak tree from South Carolina to be planted Under the Oaks. Since white oak trees do not transplant well when they are large-sized, the replacement tree will be an overcup oak, part of the white oak family.

Wood from the historic tree is being preserved and will be used for a special project or purpose in the future.

Dan Anderson,
4/3/2014 11:00 AM