Loss of 200-year-old red oak

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 8:15am

It happened some time during the night or early morning.

Well-known bowl turner Lou Landry on Van Horn Road in Ocean Point woke on Wednesday, Oct. 10 to find two thirds of the huge red oak in his backyard lying on the ground. It had been registered by the Maine Forestry Service as the second largest in the state. Apparently, rot from within plus the massive weight of two sections of the tree caused them to let go, Landry said. It was approximately 200 years old.

Landry said the five-acre property belonged to his wife's grandfather before they got it. It was first run as a farm. His two sons and three daughters grew up either playing under the oak or swinging from it, so they have deep sentimental attachments. At a recent family reunion, members milled around under it. 

Confiding that his wife of 62 years, Marilyn, died a year ago last December, Landry pointed to a circular garden at the base of the tree. Her ashes are buried there. That was her wish. 

In 2008, the forestry service listed the oak as Maine's third largest, but last summer the service showed up to re-measure and take more pictures because the second largest had been destroyed by lightning. Landry said the agency told him, “Large red oaks are found all the time but whether yours stays the second oldest or not, it is the most beautiful.”

Close examination revealed the rot in the trunk had been developing for some time. Landry has called an arborist to have it taken down. It will not be cheap.  

When asked if he will be turning some of the wood into bowls, he explained he doesn't like the graining of red oak. However, he will make enough bowls for everyone in the family to have one, a last remnant of the treasure they have lost.

Landry said, “If my house burns down I can build another; if I smack up my truck I can get another; but I can't go down to Conley's and order up a 200-year-old tree!”