It is colder than I thought it would be, but I expect spring will come while I am still in Virginia.
I counted the rings.As well as I can count, the tree was about chest high in 1900. It probably took a few years to get there, so it was an acorn maybe in 1890. Oak trees require some cover but a lot of sun.There are other big oaks nearby.My guess is that these oaks were on a property line, where there were other trees but cleared fields in both directions.Fairfax County has good soil for pasture and was an area of mixed dairy farms before it became urbanized.There is a good chance that was this, but I really don’t know.The big tree was actually two trees that grew together.It looks like there might have been a third tree in the middle.
How different this place was when this tree started to grow.
I felt bad when I saw the tree was gone, but I don’t want to make this a narrative of loss. It is easy to fall into a narrative of loss when you really have loss, but we don’t think of the gains. The forest around is growing. Light that now gets to the formerly shaded ground will let other things grow faster and better. There really is no loss. Back in 1890, a big tree may have fallen down to allow this big tree to grow. The rings clearly show differences in the decades of growth. The likely cause is other trees crowding in and then being cleared.
You can see the stump up to, rings next and some other trees growing together, maybe forming future big trees. On the stump picture, you can see a dime, which gives some perspective.