This was a 200-year old Osage-orange tree on what used to be part of my grandfather's farm in Charlotte, NC.  This former hay field is now a subdivision (the farm house is directly across the road in the grove of trees in the distance behind the scraper).  The house I grew up in is adjacent to the farm (way over on the opposite side of the farm -- not pictured here).

 

When I took this picture in August '03, construction was underway to turn the former field into a subdivision.  Precautions were taken during construction to preserve the tree as a centerpiece for the new neighborhood.

Sadly, the tree was destroyed on the night of July 4, 2007 in a fire started by a firecracker that apparently landed in the hollow trunk of the tree.  After volunteer firefighters tried for eight hours in the middle of the night to put out the fire, the tree was cut down for fear of branches falling out of it.  Some of its branches were large enough to be large trees themselves.

Over the course of its 200-year life it survived being struck by lightning and who knows what else, but it couldn't survive three years in a subdivision.

Clicking on the pictures will take you to the page I set up on Flickr.  There's a little bit more information on those pages for the curious.

Here's the tree in the subdivision. The trunk was measured at 24 feet around after the tree was cut down (that's my uncle Ed on the left).  Note the interesting color of the wood.

Links to news stories about the fire:

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