the irreparable loss of our beloved old Wye
by Dee Horney Gabler ~ June 7, 2002
Click photos to enlarge
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.
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
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.
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
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.