|Press Releases | Search DNR | DNR Home|
Historic Holly Hall Oak Collapses
Annapolis, Md. - The historic Holly Hall Oak, a White Oak tree considered to be more than 400 years old, collapsed and fell over Saturday, April 26th in Cecil County. It was last measured in 2008 by Maryland Big Tree Program volunteers John Bennett and Dori Murphy, who recorded a 21’ 11’’ circumference, 58’ height, 78’ crown spread and 341 points on their program’s size scale.
Like Maryland’s Wye Oak, which was once the largest White Oak tree in the United States, Elkton’s Holly Hall Oak died of old age. The base had become progressively rotten and hollow and finally could no longer support the weight of the massive upper trunk and limbs.
“Just like an implosion of a tall building, the base crumbled, the rest of the tree telescoped downward and then toppled over,” said Bennett. “Unlike the Wye Oak, there was no storm or strong wind; it was a beautiful Saturday morning. A light wind from the southwest provided enough push so the tree fell towards the northeast, just missing a Subway restaurant and crushing an unoccupied truck parked nearby.”
The ancient tree stood at the entrance of Big Elk Mall located across from the intersection of Routes 40 and 213. This is considered by many to be the "northern gateway" to the upper Chesapeake Bay, an alternate route for travelers who do not wish to use the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Over the years literally thousands of travelers have passed by this tree on their way to the Eastern Shore.
Developers of a shopping mall threatened the old oak in the 1970s when they planned to remove it in the course of construction, however through the efforts of concerned citizens, the tree was saved. In 1976, volunteers from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Forest, Park and Wildlife Service cleared away underbrush from beneath the tree’s 180 foot spread of branches, and the manager of a local tree service company volunteered to prune off dead limbs without cost. The developer of the shopping mall offered to deed the tree to the town of Elkton.
In addition, the Holly Hall Oak was identified as a Bicentennial Tree in 1976, meaning it was alive when the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. A plaque under the tree’s boughs read: “It has stood its ground, survived the American Revolution and continues to serve an appreciative nation. July, 1976.”
For more information on the Holly Hall Oak, Maryland’s Big Tree Program or to access a database on Maryland trees, please visit http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/forests/trees/bigtree.html or contact John Bennett at email@example.com.
April 30, 2009
Contact: Megan Rhoads
Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 449,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov