Cut down at almost 400 years old, this Montgomery Co. oak tree is finding new purpose

The oldest tree in Montgomery County, Maryland, was cut down over the summer due to natural decay and rot. Now, the wood from the centuries-old Linden Oak is being recycled in a creative way.

Colin Vale, or Carving Colin, is excited to see a piece of natural history preserved. He’s a professional chainsaw artist who has been tasked to transform the more than 300-year-old Oak tree, which once stood tall in North Bethesda, into a community bench.

The tree was estimated to be almost 400 years old, even though arborists cannot know for sure the exact age. It stood at more than 90 feet tall. That means it was alive when George Washington was born and was 20 feet taller than the current White House.

“It’s older than the government of the country that you’re living in. How insignificant and puny our lives are compared to this greater 400-year-old life force,” said Vale.

The community bench will be created out of the wood from the branch of the old oak, because the trunk was too large. Even though there is rot, Vale said he can work around it.

Joli McCathran, the vice chair of the Maryland Big Tree Program, said “it was really sad” to see the tree go.

The transformation project of the extra wood into a bench was made feasible by the Maryland National Capitol Parks and Planning Commission, and Montgomery County Parks.

You can find more about Vale on his website.

Heather Gustafson

Heather Gustafson is a Freelance Anchor/Reporter for WTOP, a DMV native and an Emmy award-winning journalist lauded for her 2020 Black Lives Matter protests coverage.

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