Much-loved 'George Washington oak tree' cut down

Image source, Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church

A 600-year-old oak tree where President George Washington once picnicked has been cut down after starting to show signs of its age.

Working under a grey cloudy sky on Monday, crews in a New Jersey town cut down limbs and pieces of trunk as community members looked on.

"Everybody knows Basking Ridge because of this tree. It's a sad sight to see it come down," said one resident.

Acorns from the tree have already been used to grow a replacement.

A young 16-year old tree, only 25ft (7.5m) tall, already stands in the north end of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church.

Work began on Monday on the tree, but is expected to continue for several more days.

"It'll be an empty feeling, very different," said Jann Slapin told

In 1740, when the town was in its infancy, English evangelists George Whitefield and James Davenport preached under the tree.

Decades later, General George Washington sat on the lawn to eat with his friend and revolutionary, the Marquis de Lafayette.

It was reportedly the oldest white oak in the country.