The below article is about a great oak tree, but no where does it say how they know its age. There is a mighty oak on the Appalachian Trail in the Town of Pawling that is, I think the largest on the whole trail. I’ve never seen any information about how without cutting it down a tree’s age is determined.Here is a picture of the Dutchess County oak tree. giant oak latest 002

Basking Ridge, N.J., is contemplating how to let go of the white oak tree, now in failing health, that has stood in its midst for more than 600 years.

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. — Well before Columbus sailed to the New World and even before Gutenberg invented the printing press, there grew a great oak tree in a land that would one day be called New Jersey.

The oak was already old when farmers built a church beside it in 1717. And when the people came and kept coming, a town called Basking Ridge was built around the church that was built beside the tree.

Town and tree would always be inseparable, or so the people thought.

In 1740, English evangelists James Davenport and George Whitefield preached beneath the tree, spreading the word of the “Great Awakening” to more than 3,000 people. George Washington’s troops drilled on the village green in view of the ancient oak, and the general picnicked beneath it with his friend the Marquis de Lafayette. On his way to the Battle of Yorktown, Gen. Jean-Baptiste Rochambeau marched 5,500 French soldiers past the oak and into history — and soon after the tree shaded the graves of 35 veterans of the revolution.

Through war and natural disaster and a thousand storms or more, the tree survived. In the 1920s, four men scooped out part of its rotted trunk and then stood inside it, amazed at its girth, before pouring concrete into the cavity to save the oak. They also added cables and “crutches” to ease the weight of the branches grown longer than the tree was tall.

Under the sprawling branches of the historic “Holy Oak” in Basking Ridge, N.J., a plaque notes the tree’s dimensions half a century ago. (Yana Paskova/For The Washington Post)
And when drought parched the community in the 1970s, residents didn’t mind when volunteer firefighters slaked the oak’s thirst. “And if at any time, we have another drought and people are told they can’t water their lawns, they can’t fill their swimming pools, there will always be water for this tree,” a town historian said years later.

But what if, eventually, all the tender loving care isn’t enough? A couple of springs ago, people noticed that the tree was less green in the top of its canopy and its gray denuded branches seemed to scold the sky. They worried over what was happening to their beloved oak — the oldest white oak in the country and perhaps the world. Scientists were called in, plans were offered up, and everyone waited to see what the next spring would bring.oak plaque njoak tree nj