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At 36 metres tall (118 feet) this Bald cypress had an 5.5 metre (18 feet) diameter. It had been standing in Big Tree Park Florida USA for 3,500 years.
Now it is gone. Dead. Burnt to the ground, even though it had a lightning rod installed to prevent it catching fire if struck by lightning.
From the New York Times, “Named for Senator M. O. Overstreet, who donated the land to Seminole County to use as a park in 1927, the Senator has long been a landmark for Floridians. It survived the logging epidemic, which claimed many of the giant trees that once stood in the county. (The Senator may have been spared because it was hollow, a condition that occurred as the tree aged.) It endured centuries of nasty hurricanes, including one in 1925 that lopped off 40 feet from the top.”
The Division of Forestry is investigating how this giant was burnt down. They are considering arson, a lightning strike or wind friction. The locals think the tree was a victim of arson – perhaps a lit cigarette tossed into the hollow.
A tree that reached 3,500 years of age would have been a seedling in 1512BC.
Just to put this in perspective, the following are some random historical events that occurred during this tree’s lifetime. When Minoan culture was destroyed in 1450BC this tree was 62-years-old & 407-years-old when the Trojan War occurred in 1105BC. The first Olympic games happened in 766BC. In 500BC the wheel came to Great Britain & this tree was 1,012-years-old. In 333BC Alexander the Great defeated Persia at the battle of Issus. In 51BC Cleopatra & Ptolemy XII inherited Egypt. In 27BC Caesar Augustus became Emperor of Rome. In 30AD when Jesus was crucified this tree was 1,542-years-old. In 793 Ireland was raided by the Vikings. Angkor Wat was built in Cambodia in 1140. In 1348, 75-million people in Europe died due to The Black Plague. In 1666 The Great Fire of London burnt the city down. In 1770 Captain James Cook landed in Botany Bay. In 1876 Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone. In 1945 the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima Japan. In 1957 Sputnik I became the first human-made satellite & so on. In 2012 The Senator, one of the world’s ancient trees dies, aged 3,500 years. Cause of death unknown as yet.
“What remains now is a trunk, split in half, & a charred shard of wood that shoots 30 feet into the air. The remnants of the tree lie split, on their sides, black & sooty. Outside the gates of the park sits a little tribute of flowers with a sign reading “Rest in Peace Senator.””