Wye Oak Tree

Wye Oak

Wye Oak

Wye Mills, Talbot County, Maryland

the irreparable loss of our beloved old Wye Oak tree

by Dee Horney Gabler     ~     June 7, 2002

Click photos to enlarge

    O n Thursday evening, June 6, 2002 Maryland lost forever one of our oldest and most valued treasures, the Wye Oak tree.

A severe storm with high winds and saturating rains felled our beloved Wye Oak, Maryland's natural monument of almost 500 years of age.

The Wye Oak tree, last dated at 460 years of age, was an historic landmark on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

With a heavy heart, I took these photos on June 7, 2002 the afternoon after the storm, about 18 hours after the fall of the great Wye Oak tree.

    The majestic tree fell with a tremendous crash during the severe storm.

Before reaching the Wye Oak, the storm which had high damaging winds, heavy lightning, torrential downpours and golf ball sized hail, was reported to have produced 2 tornadoes on the western shore of Maryland before water spouts were expected to form when crossing the Chesapeake bay.

The storm crossed the bay late afternoon to early evening entering Queen Anne's and Talbot Counties when the tragedy took place.

    The Wye Oak has been a landmark since the colonists first settled in the 1600s in what is now Wye Mills, Talbot County, Maryland.

A deep respect was given by the clean up crew, the department of Natural Resources, and others who were at the site during the removal of the natural historical treasure.

Precautions were taken for the safety of onlookers, who stayed clear of the workers behind cordoned off areas. Many locals and "old timers" came by to pay their respect and to reminisce about climbing the tree in their youth.

    The small colonial school house to the right of the old Wye Oak did not appear to be damaged. Friday after the storm, before the heavy machinery was brought in, a certain amount of time was given from morning to early afternoon to bagging the many leaves which were handed out to visitors and mourners who came to the site to pay their heartfelt respect to the once spectacular Oak.

Parents brought small children who could be seen holding small branches of leaves to take home to press or perhaps to put in their scrapbooks.

    One can only wonder at the number of people who passed under Wye Oak. In the 1500s and 1600s,the people native to this land and who early explorers called "The Naturals," passed beneath her spectacular canopy of branches and leaves. Later the colonists who settled Maryland in the early 1600s to 1700s,as well as their descendants, enjoyed her splendor.

As I reflected upon the many generations of my Eastern Shore ancestors... my Sewell, Horney, Higgins, Browne, Cooper, Clarke,and Thomas ancestors... all of whom settled in this area in the 1600s and 1700s; I thought they must have, as I had, passed under the branches and stood in the shade under this magnificent oak.

    Memories are passed down through the generations of those who sat under her shade in the school yard, carved their initials, picnicked, posed for school, graduation and wedding photos and perhaps even received their first kiss under the old Wye Oak tree.

Many stories and fond memories will surely be shared in the homes of those who knew of Wye Oak and her memories will be passed down to following generations.

The Great Wye Oak... a living testament spanning almost 500 years, now to be a memory of Maryland's past.

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Photos and Webpage June 7, 2002 by
D i a n a "D e e" H o r n e y - G a b l e r