Mingo Oak

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The Mingo Oak was once the largest and oldest white oak in the United States until it was declared dead and felled with ceremony on September 10, 1938. The oak's age was estimated at around 584 years. It was located on the property of the Island Creek Coal Company near Holden in Mingo County, West Virginia from which it derived its name. The Mingo Oak had attained a height of 145 feet (44 meters) and a circumference of 30 feet 9 inches (9.4 meters).


Remant of the Mingo Oak on display at West Virginia University.

There exist three stories that account for the Mingo Oak's death. It was originally reported by the Island Creek Coal Company that the oak's death was caused by a fungus, but another story contends that careless miners piled mine spoil over its roots, thus killing it. According to Roy Clarkson, author of "Tumult on the Mountains: Lumbering in West Virginia 1770-1920," a coal mine near the Mingo Oak had a permanently burning refuse pile, the fumes of which killed the oak.

Close-up of the Mingo Oak's growth rings.

The cross-section of the Mingo Oak pictured at right is housed at West Virginia University's Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.The second picture at right is a close-up of the growth rings from the Mingo Oak.

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