When Ezra Cornell surveyed the land that would eventually become his University, he saw hundreds of thousands of trees. Over the years, many of these trees have been cut down due to the expansion and development of the University, but yesterday, one of those trees fell down on its own.
At approximately 9 a.m. yesterday, a 169-197 year old oak tree on the north end of the Arts Quad fell down suddenly, leaving Cornell students, professors and tree experts wondering why.
According to Simeon Moss ’73, Cornell’s press office director, the tree was approximately three feet in diameter, approximately 50 feet tall and was part of one of the first oak groves on campus.
“The crown [the part of the tree that has leaves and branches] looked great, and the trunk was firm, so no one suspected a problem.” Moss said.
“It seems like there was some kind of root rot or a pathogen,” he added.
No one was injured when the tree fell.
“We were lucky that it didn’t fall during a busy time, like in between classes,” Moss said.
There will be a full analysis done on the tree to make sure that no other trees in the vicinity suffer from the same problem.
Bartlett Tree Experts of Syracuse took samples of the tree.
Prof. George Hudler, chair of the Department of Plant Pathology, said that he saw a wood decay fungus at the base of the tree that was probably working on the tree for about 15 years.
“Grounds would be advised to check the entire grove,” Hudler said, adding that he saw a couple of other trees that could be “more hazardous than others.”
He said that “It’s not uncommon for something like this to happen,” but added that there was still enough living wood so that the problem was undetectable by looking at the top of the tree.
Also, Hudler said that the tree might have been more susceptible to a fall because of this summer’s extremely dry conditions.
As part of the “full diagnostic of the tree,” other experts took cross sections to perform a tree ring analysis.
Moss said that a tree was transplanted onto the Arts Quad near the fallen tree from the future site of the Life Sciences Building. The fall did not damage the new tree.
“Grounds is constantly planting new trees on campus,” Moss said.
By yesterday afternoon, the tree had been cut up and piled up the Arts Quad.
CUPD Officer Michael Blenman said that the larger pieces of wood from the tree would be turned into furniture, while the smaller pieces would be turned into firewood.
Passersby noted that the Arts Quad view would not be the same without the tree.
“It will be missed,” said Kimberly Snowden ’06.
Elijah Reichlin-Melnick contributed to this report.
Archived article by Eric Finkelstein
Sun Managing Editor