RIP to the 600-year-old oak tree George Washington picnicked under

This tree got to hang out with George Washington – but now, it's time is about up.

At 97 feet high, and with branches that stretch 156 feet through the air, the Basking Ridge Oak Tree will get anyone's attention.

And after doing so for 600 years, it's time to say goodbye.

Located in Basking Ridge, New Jersey – right next to the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church – the historic tree is at the end of its life, beyond revival.

The old white oak tree is dead.

And as the New York Times writes, the first steps toward removing it are underway, including a chainsaw to the upper branches late last week.

“It’s hard to even talk about this,” the man doing the cutting told the paper. “I really wanted to save the tree.”

Why is the tree so beloved? Well it's been around longer than anyone in the town's recorded history, the tree's website notes, likely about 600 years. And it's been through a lot.

Says the website: "Famous evangelist George Whitefield preached to over 3,000 people while standing under its branches during the Great Awakening of 1740. According to local lore, General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette picnicked under its protective shade and Revolutionary War soldiers stopped here to rest. Washington established a military hospital a short distance from the tree, in the vicinity of today’s North Maple Avenue."

Betsy Ross, credited with making the first American flag, might be buried beneath the old tree as well.

So getting ready to say goodbye to the mighty white oak has been difficult for the local community.

So read the New York Times story, and watch this recent piece from CBS News, to get the full picture.

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