Lumber from Maryland’s 300-year-old Linden Oak will be part of weekend wood sale

The Linden Oak, which was estimated to be between 300 and 400 years old before it died in 2022, was cut down by a Montgomery County forestry crew in July. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)

Every year, the Montgomery County Department of Parks holds its “Urban Wood Sale,” offering lumber from trees cleared as part of the county’s wood and green waste recycling programs.

This year, lumber from the historic Linden Oak, the massive tree that stood for hundreds of years near the intersection of Rockville Pike, Grosvenor Lane and Beach Drive in North Bethesda, Maryland, will be on sale. The oak, estimated to be more than 300 years old, was cut down in July after evaluation found its rotting trunk made it potentially hazardous.

Patrick Harwood, an urban forester with the Montgomery County Department of Parks, said the age of the Linden Oak is only an estimation and that it’s difficult to precisely date the tree due to the rotting at the base.

“Most old trees have a hollow center and that’s where you’re going to get your most accurate count of rings,” he said.

When that’s missing, guesswork on establishing an age comes into play.

Harwood said limited quantities of pieces of the historic Linden Oak will be available for sale this Saturday, Dec. 9, and Sunday, Dec. 10.

“We’ll have more of it available for subsequent sales, even as far as two years [from now],” Harwood said. “It was a very large tree.”

Pieces of the tree for sale this weekend will range from very small to large slabs suitable for projects where someone wants to fashion a project with a “live edge.”

Harwood told WTOP the annual sale at Montgomery County’s Green Farm Maintenance Facility on Turkey Thicket Drive in Gaithersburg draws crowds and generates long lines each year.

“We have everything from ‘do-it-yourselfers’ to professional woodworkers to folks who are just kind of looking,” Harwood said.

Often, the lumber sold off is fashioned into plaques, cutting boards or larger projects such as tables and countertops, according to Harwood. Prices can run from $4 to $500 and payment by credit card will be accepted. Money from the sale benefits the parks’ wood waste and green waste recycling programs.

The lumber is sourced from a variety of trees: mulberry, oak, black locust, eastern white pine and even some cherry, Harwood said.

One of the reasons the lumber at the sale is so popular is the fact that when people buy from the parks department, they’re literally taking home a piece of the park. But Harwood said trees are only taken in certain circumstances.

“We only remove trees that are dead, dying or are posing a safety risk to park patrons or infrastructure,” he said.

If a dead or dying tree is in a park area where there isn’t a nearby path or other infrastructure, it will be left as is, Harwood said. In that case, the dead tree will continue to serve as a home to all kinds of wildlife from birds to insects.

“Nature takes a hold of it and does its thing, and we don’t need to interrupt it,” Harwood said.

If you want to get in on the urban wood sale, bear in mind it runs for just a few hours each day, from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday.

“The early bird gets the worm,” Harwood said.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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