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Historic Post Oak Cut Down Due to Storm Damage

by Katie Pyzyk July 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm 7,289 55 Comments

An oak tree that has, for centuries, towered over what is now the Westover neighborhood is being cut down today.

The derecho on June 29 irreparably damaged the historic Post Oak, a majestic 93-foot tall tree that likely dates back to the mid-to-late 1700s. The county decided that the tree, believed to be the oldest in Arlington, had to be removed for the safety of residents.

“What’s remaining is really only about a third of the tree. It had several large trunks coming out of the main trunk, and two of those were broken off,” said Jamie Bartalon with the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation. “As a result, the remaining trunk has quite a bit of decay and the tree is no longer balanced. It could potentially fall.”

Contractors are spending the day cutting down the tree — on the 5800 block of 11th Street N. — in sections. Parts of it will be salvaged instead of being used for mulch. The county is still trying to figure out exactly what to do with the saved portions.

Although the tree’s exact age is unclear, it’s believed to have been around since the 1700s. That would make it not only the oldest tree in Arlington, but also perhaps one of the oldest in the state. Rings will be counted from salvaged sections of the 18-inch circumference trunk to determine exactly how old the tree was.

The Post Oak was designated as a protected “Specimen Tree” by the County Board in 2008.

Bartalon said part of what made it noteworthy besides the age was its height, considering those types of trees are slow growing and typically don’t exceed 50 feet.

The tree should be removed down to the stump by this evening.

  • Greg

    “18-inch circumference”, huh? That’s just a shrubbery.

    • nom de guerre

      “First you must find… another shrubbery! (dramatic chord) Then, when you have found the shrubbery, you must place it here, beside this shrubbery, only slightly higher so you get a two layer effect with a little path running down the middle. (“A path! A path!”) Then, you must cut down the mightiest tree in the forrest… with… a herring!”
      Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

      • We are…

        …the knights who say NI!

    • Vincent Verweij

      lol. Misprint right there. That would be 18 feet circumference. Bad Arlington Now, Bad!

  • TJ
    • Marie Antoinette

      That’s what she said…

  • MrClean

    quick, head over and grab a chunck.. would make a great cuting board.

    • Mike

      A “cuting board”? You don’t need a board to be cute.

      • drax

        Some people do.

        • WeiQiang


  • really


  • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

    I’ve got a historic piece of wood for ya!

    • Magic Mike

      /\ this /\

  • DarkHeart

    Will they put a chunk of this tree next to the George Washington Stump in Glen Carlyn Library?

    • Elmer

      Suggestion: Use the wood for benches at the streetcar stops on Columbia Pike.
      Something old;something new.

      • I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay

        Log flume rides on Donaldson Run.

      • nom de guerre

        Natural, locally sourced bollards.

      • BlueSkies

        Commemorative placard for Sam’s Corner.

        • Sculpture of a gigantic brown flip flop which is positioned at the top of the Clarendon metro as public art.

    • Id

      I have a stump for you.

  • Clarendon

    I hope someone can manage to make something from it that lasts at least as long as it took to grow (~250 years).

  • Hokie

    For what it’s worth- not even closest to oldest tree in Virginia. In Blacksburg, the University recently released a report detailing the age of some of the trees on the Virginia Tech campus with scientific tests showing there are dozens of trees more than 300 years old.

    • bob

      Hence why the article says ‘oldest tree in Arlington’.

      • outoftowner

        There was an edit to the OP then, it most definitely said ‘possibly the oldest tree in the Commonwealth’

        • Southeast Ben

          Agree to the “Commonwealth” statement.

          Bigger question of the day. Has anyone ever known someone to graduate from VT without seeing them wear VT apparel?

          • nom de guerre


          • Henry

            School pride, how awful!

          • Wahoowa!

            Pride? It’s just Tech.

          • Arly

            Pride? It’s just UVA football.

          • DCBuff

            Pride? It’s just a UVa degree.

          • Suburban Not Urban

            Pride it’s just a UVA Engineering degree

          • Hank

            I got my master’s at VT Alexandria and I can proudly say I’ve never owned nor worn a piece of VT garb. Or maybe mine doesn’t count because it was the Alexandria campus.

          • JamesE

            Architecture? Is your name Art Vandelay?

          • Hank

            Oh please, my degree wasn’t even architecture quality. Vandelay Industries really does superior work, though.

          • ArlDon

            …don’t forget all the stuff on our cars…and pets…and in our offices…and…

    • Observer

      If it was at Tech, that’s probably in dog years. Maybe cow years.

      • DCBuff

        +100 moos

  • daniel

    Couple of questions….How cool would it be to make tables out of slices of the trunk? So which tree in Arlington gets the new crown?

  • Edmond_Hartt

    That would make a beautiful table or desk.

  • drax

    Make a streetcar out of it.

  • DSS10

    Up north tree companies would have taken down the tree for free. The main trunk has a lot of value for lumber (~2,000.00 depending on the condition of the heart wood) and the limbs look like they could yield ~20 cords of the best firewood you could find. If the county grinds this up for mulch (and it would not make good mulch either) it would be a total waste. Its one thing to loose a historic tree, its another thing not to use it fully.

    • Vincent Verweij

      Did you miss the part where the County is salvaging the wood?

  • NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! one thing captain pup mcpuppo hates for sure is any destruction of nature, no matter what the reason!!

    *howls & runs back into forest, saddened by this news story*

    • drax

      One less tree to pee on, Pup.

  • KARLington

    Doesn’t that mermaid on Lee Highway need a few fish or…a Captain Ahab?

    • Richard Cranium

      I was surprised that “She of the Side-Boob” survived the Derecho.

  • HenryBennetXIII

    Most trees aren’t nearly as old as people think.
    Thus 1934 aerial shows Washington Blvd curving to Westover. The original Westover Baptist church building is there on Patrick Henry.
    There are virtually NO trees west of there much less one that is 150 at the time.

    • South Awwlington

      The Old Tree argument, Arlington has three lost during the derecho that all claim to be 240+ years, fits in with recent Arlington analogies. Being (among other things): “Manhattan on the Potomac,” “A lot like Silicon Valley,” “Having hills like San Francisco,” “Oakland of the East Coast.” I am waiting to hear that we didn’t secede with Virginia during the Civil Way (but haven’t yet). Quite frankly, I am growing tired of the needless boasting we employ. It reminds me of that kid in third grade that HAD to run out and get the EXACT same sneakers you just got BECAUSE you just go them!

      Be Yourself. And no one else!

  • Flipper

    Oak Antique tables made daily!

  • Hi

    There won’t be any trees left in Arlington before long. Just cement. I grew up here. Enjoy them while you can.


  • Lee

    Its never good when trees like this have to be taken down. Its all too common, the location of the tree is the real decider of whether it should go or not. This ones over the road a house and a footpath. High potential of targets below.

    I think the circumference is larger then 18 inches though!

  • Richard R.

    Wittnessed bulk of tree (lower trunk) being taken away by the county an hour ago.09;15 AM 07/10. My observation was that the tree was little decayed. This tree fell with the strength of the winds vs. the very heavy weight of the trunk and the bending/breaking point was at close to ground level. Cheers, RRR

  • tf

    Since when does the county pick up the tab for removing a damaged tree from private property? Anyone else have a problem with this?

    • Eileen

      Looks to me as if it was on the planting strip … public property.

  • HayDiosMio

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