Why Oh Wye Oak
This weekend we went to the Eastern Shore and saw, quite by accident, The Wye Oak (deceased). Of course we stopped to have a look, and it was a remarkable thing. We have recently purchased a property with several huge old white oaks I adore, but they are just saplings in comparison to this – it was 31 feet around.
The Wye Oak sprouted in about 1450-1500AD and it apparently grew happily for the next 500+ years – through all of these interesting events (just to put it in perspective):
End of 100 Years War; English expelled from all France except Calais (1453)
Leonardo DaVinci designed the first parachute.(1485)
Columbus discovers West Indies (1492)
Pocket watch invented by Peter Henlein. (1510)
Suleiman the Magnificent invades Hungary (1532)
Turk armies invade Malta, lose battle (1551)
Birth of Shakespeare (1564, approx)
Reign of Elizabeth I of England (1558-1603)
Zacharias Janssen invents the compound microscope.(1590)
English fleet defeats Spanish Armada off south coast of England (1588)
English seaman Francis Drake sails round the world (1577-1580)
Galileo Galilei confirms that the sun is the centre of the solar system (1609)
30 Years War involves almost all Europe except Britain (1618-1648)
Candian War between Venice and Ottoman Turks (1645-1669)
In London, England, William Harvey discovers the circulation of the blood (1619-1628)
Reign of Peter the Great of Russia (1682-1725)
New York was established by the Dutch (1626)
The East India Company sets up factories at Madras (1641)
Evangelista Torricelli invents the barometer.(1643)
Great Fire of London (1666)
Bartolomeo Cristofori invents the piano.(1709)
New Orleans was founded (1718)
Seven Years War; Prussia and Britain versus France, Austria, and Russia (1756-1763)
The Industrial Revolution (1760-1830)
Reign of Russian empress Catherine the Great (1762 – 1796)
Stamp Act imposed on British colonies in Americas(1765)
John Barber invents the gas turbine.(1791)
The first ambulance.(1792)
Italian scientist Volta invents electric cell (1800)
Thomas Jefferson becomes third US president(1801)
British-American War (1812)
The first plastic surgery is performed in England (1814)
Death of Thomas Jefferson (1826)
Uruguay becomes independent (1828)
Waldo Hanchett patents the dental chair (1848)
Walter Hunt invents the safety pin (1849)
Jeans invented in California, United States (1850)
Isaac Singer invents a sewing machine.(1851)
First double-decker bus (1851)
Formation of Republican Party in US (1854)
American Civil War begins (1861)
Lincoln assassinated (1865)
Graham Bell invents the telephone (1876)
US inventor Thomas Edison invents the record-player (1877)
Opening of Brooklyn Bridge (1872)
Modern Olympics held in Athens (1896)
Nobel Prizes established (1896)
Boxer Rebellion in China (1900)
Willis Carrier invents the air conditioner.(1902)
Revolution in Russia (1905)
Henry Ford produces first Model T car (1908)
Robert Peary Becomes the First to Reach the North Pole (1909)
More than 1500 die in sinking of Titanic (1912)
Assassination of heir to Austrian throne leads to outbreak of World War I (1914)
Russian Revolution (1917)
Armistice ends World War I (1918)
Ernest Rutherford splits atom for first time (1919)
World’s first radio station opens in Britain (1920)
Discovery of Planet Pluto (1930)
Nazi leader Hitler appointed German chancellor (1933)
France surrenders to Germany (1940)
Allies invade France and begin to reconquer Europe (1944)
World War II ends (1945)
DNA discovered (1953)
Mt Everest conquered for the first time by Tenzing and Hillary (May 29, 1953)
Russian Yuri Gagarin becomes first human in space (1961)
John F. Kennedy is assassinated (1963)
US astronauts land on the Moon (1969)
U.S. invades Cambodia (1970)
Viking 1 & 2 land on Mars (1976)
Invention of Personal computer (1978)
Berlin Wall dismantled (1989)
Internet expands with World Wide Web (1993)
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,” according to the Governor at the time (O’Connor).
Soon after this purchase the Legislature declared the Wye Oak to be the living symbol of the Maryland State Tree, the white oak.
The tree was sprayed for pests. Cables were installed. A park was made around the tree.
Several full time bureaucrats were assigned to assure its continued health and wellbeing.
In 2002 the tree died.
State and federal foresters were called to stand around looking at the remains while wearing hardhats.
The Governor at the time (Glendening) made the following statement: ”I was deeply saddened tonight to learn of the loss of one of our state’s most historic, beautiful and stately natural resources. For more than 450 years, the Wye Oak has stood strong and tall, surviving winds, drought and diseases of nature, and even more remarkably, the human threats of chain saws and global warming.”
It looks warm out, and is that a chain saw I see?
The remains of the Wye Oak were chopped up to make a desk for the Governor (Ehrlich).
The park remains and a clone has been created from a cutting from the original tree. Or so the sign says.
I am sure that the current Governor (O’Malley) will keep it safe from sleet and hail, chainsaws, global warming, pirates, grizzly bears and Japanese tourist groups. Bureaucrats and state foresters with cables and bug spray maybe not. Time will tell. I am sure he is enjoying the desk in the meantime.
500+ years of independent living – without an army of bureaucrats providing for its needs – and this tree was fine.
60+ years of intense management by highly trained bureaucrats and state foresters and it died.
There is a lesson in there somewhere!