Historic, massive tree collapses in NJ

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A white oak tree believed to be nearly 600 years old and under which a treaty was signed to establish Salem came down Thursday evening.

Various photos and reports from site of the The Salem Religious Society of Friends cemetery shows the uprooted tree on its side.

It was not clear why the Salem Oak had collapsed. It was reportedly in deterioration in recent years. Drenching rain had also soaked the ground earlier in the week. 

Photos posted to the Salem County Memories Facebook page showed people gathered around the tree.

"The Salem Religious Society of Friends burial ground had been her home for centuries," wrote Rebecca Gower Ferguson. "The Quakers oversaw her care and she was lovingly tended to as family matriarch. A careful regiment of preventative care had been provided, which no doubt allowed her age far beyond the typical 200 - 300 year life expectancy for a white oak."

The tree stood at approximately 103 feet tall and had a circumference of 22 feet, 4 inches. It's crown was about 104 feet.

In 2016, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection labeled it the largest white oak in the state.

Quaker John Fenwick, the man who brought the first English settlement to West Jersey in 1675, brokered a treaty with the Lenni Lenape Native American tribe under the branches of the tree.

Many of Salem’s earliest residents are buried in the graveyard under the tree’s large branches.

A diner across the street was named after the tree. The chamber of commerce and the local community college incorporated the image of the tree into their logos.