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The Quiet Giant, An Online Art Exhibition
Top portion of the tree after the storm felled itIn 2004, The State of Maryland offered remnants of the Wye Oak to Maryland artists interested in producing artwork with their varied talent and creative expression.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is pleased to present the commemorative work of Maryland artists, whose tributes to Maryland’s fallen Wye Oak Tree are truly impressive.

Welcome to the The Wye Oak Gallery!

The Art of the Wye Oak

The Academy Art Museum
Easton, Maryland
October 5 – 30, 2006

The Museum is proud to exhibit these pieces in the first and only show featuring these cherished memorials to one of Maryland’s greatest symbols.

Open Monday - Saturday
10am to 4pm
(with extended hours till 8pm
on Tues, Weds and Thurs)

Academy Art Museum
106 South Street
Easton, MD 21601
(410) 822-2787(ARTS)

Maryland's Wye Oak was long recognized as the largest white oak tree in the nation. Its stately presence in the village of Wye Mills in Talbot County had marked the passage of time for many generations.

In 1939, the State of Maryland purchased the Wye Oak from its last private owner, “in accordance with our desire to preserve places of historical and outstanding interest,” said Governor O’Connor. Soon after this purchase the Legislature declared the Wye Oak to be the living symbol of our State Tree, the white oak.

On June 6, 2002 the mighty Wye Oak succumbed to time and the elements as its massive trunk collapsed during a severe thunderstorm. It was estimated to be more than 450 years old at the time of its fall.

More informational resources about the Wye Oak:

Champion Tree Program

The Champion Tree Program seeks to identify the biggest trees in each species by county, state and nation. Although it now reaches all 50 states, the program was born in Maryland when the first state forester, Fred W. Besley, compiled a "Noted Tree List" in 1925.

Besley's point system to rank Champion trees was later adapted by American Forests for its first register in 1940, when the Champion Tree Program went national and the Wye Oak, in Talbot County on the Eastern Shore, was recognized as the largest white oak in the country.

To qualify as a champion, the tree must have a single stem or trunk for at least 4 1/2 feet above the ground level and total height of at least fifteen feet. The rule for the circumference or girth at 4 1/2 feet was established to avoid any abnormal base swell of the trunk at the ground line. In multiple stem trees, only the largest single stem shall be measured.

To evaluate the relative size of a tree, the girth in inches and the height and crown spread in feet are added together to arrive at a number of points for each tree. This number is then used for comparison of tree sizes in each species. This system of measuring gives the trunk, the most important part of the tree, much better weight by giving the girth in inches.

The formula is: Total Points = Circumference (inches) + Height (feet) + 25% of the average Crown Spread (feet).

The first Big Tree Contest in 1925 had an impressive list of 450 trees nominated. All of the trees in this list have been officially measured by an employee of the Maryland DNR Forest Service, who can certify their authenticity.

The Wye Oak reigned supreme with a point total of 508 when it fell. Its Virginia successor's total is 427.

Maryland's Big Tree Book

  Wye Oak Art Gallery
 Wye Oak State Park

"My special remembrance from that night in June occurred just shortly after the Wye Oak had fallen. It was still raining tears from the sky. A man of American Indian heritage approached Park Manager John Ohler and me and asked if he could go over and touch the tree.

We were just beginning to secure the area; it was still dangerous, wet and confusing. I sensed his need and the depths of his desire and said “yes.” I then escorted him into the mass of tangled branches and limbs.

As he knelt down and placed his hands on the fallen tree he chanted. I don’t know what he said but with great reverence and respect he honored the spirit of the Wye Oak and we both understood what this tree was worth."

- M. Stark McLaughlin

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Updated on September 27, 2006