600-year-old tree to be removed in Bernards

BERNARDS -

A 600-year-old white oak that sits on the grounds of Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church in Bernards is scheduled to be cut down Monday morning.

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

The tree is scheduled to be cut at 6:30 a.m. after a few words from the church's reverend.

Church leaders say George Washington enjoyed a meal by the tree with the Marquis de Lafayette.

The tree is being removed because it is dying and no longer viable. Removing the tree from a historic graveyard, with the oldest marker dating back to 1736, won't be easy.  Each branch needs to be first grabbed by a crane before being cut.

"They will make that cut, they will lift it up, turn and transfer it out and then lay it down on the road to make subsequent cuts so it can be put on a truck,” says Jon Klippel, of Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church.

Klippel says they are prepared for some surprises, including 3 tons of concrete somewhere in the tree originally to help preserve it.

"If we go back in to the church records and look at the bill that came in from the tree company in 1924, there is a line item that says 3 tons of concrete,” he says.

The wood from the tree will be saved, and if it's good quality, the church says it has a list of 200 ideas of what to do with it.

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