The Sentinel Oak: Part 1
The Sentinel Blog
9.5 ft diameter @ base
30.1 ft circumference @ base
7.1 ft diameter@ 4.5 ft
22.4 ft circumference @ 4.5 ft
Height & Spread
Max Height: 68 ft
Max crown spread: 117 ft
Average crown spread: 106 ft
Largest limb: 2.0 ft diameter
Approximately: 300 years
Four generations of the Meyer Family have cared for the Sentinel Tree over the last half-century.
They made memories of resting in the tree's shade eating lunch brought during harvest, circumnavigating the tree with farm equipment... sometimes unsuccessfully, and watching the sunsets through the tree's branches.
They know they are not the only admirers of the tree and hope to continue sharing it with future generations of families.
Tammy Barlekamp, Perrysburg, Ohio: I first noticed the majestic Sentinel oak tree in 1997. After our move to Rawson, I became severely depressed. One day I saw this bigger-than-life tree-of-life standing boldly in a field off the highway. The prominent and imposing beauty of it gave me hope. It reminded me that this massive tree was once a tiny seed. I believed if I buried God's Word deep in my heart I would see His Promises unfold. They have. God is faithful. Right now I'm looking at a framed picture of the Sentinel Oak my husband gifted me a few years ago, knowing it played a part in my recovery. It still gives me hope. And even though the physical tree is being removed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39)
Jim Hankenhof - Toledo, Ohio It all started in 1978, and I was 18 years old. As I was moving to Florida, I noticed this majestic oak tree along I-75 just south of Findlay. It was one of the most beautiful trees I have ever seen. As a young carpenter, (and son of a master carpenter), I already had an appreciation for nature, and all things wood, especially oak trees. As I traveled back and forth between Florida and Toledo, I looked forward to seeing this tree as my guidepost. It was my “almost home” marker.
Later, throughout the years, as my family grew and we traveled this highway, I would always point out this old majestic tree and called it “My Mighty Oak”. At times, we would stop along the highway to get a picture of “My Tree” and me. I always wanted to get closer to the tree but didn’t know how to do so without climbing the fence and walking through the farmer’s field of crops.
As I gazed at the outstretched branches, I would often wonder how this tree came to be the single survivor surrounded by acres of farmland along a major highway. My mind took me back in time, hundreds of years, imagining the farmer clearing his land and leaving this mighty oak as a place of respite under the shade of its broad canopy.
Then one day, forty years later, while visiting my wife’s cousin and her husband (Therese & Mark Meyer), I saw a picture of this mighty oak on their dining room wall. I recognized it INSTANTLY. It was like seeing an old friend. Imagine my surprise when I learned it was THEIR tree on THEIR farmland! I finally got that chance to get closer to the Mighty Oak Tree. I could not even begin to wrap my arms around the 32-foot circumference! Standing under its branches, I am in awe of God’s creation. Soon this tree will be harvested, and I look forward to working with the wood of this tree to create a lasting remembrance in my home.
Kathy Grine - Hello, I had two of my brothers’ text telling me that "my tree" had been taken down over this past weekend. I knew he had not been feeling well. I have 4 seasons’ pictures blown up and framed hanging on my family room wall in Fostoria. I took those pics when I was still living at home (in Lima) and commuting to the east side of Findlay to work. That was back in 1993 or 1994'ish. They have been the focal point of my family room since 2008, soon after we added on the family room. I'm so glad to know how many other people appreciated how beautiful and symmetrical my tree was! Great Story in the Courier!
Renne Smith - Ever since I was a young child I have loved that tree…This Tree is one that I have always enjoyed seeing. I am so very serious to have a cookie cut and one branch raw edge plank.
JoEllen Boren - I just happened to glance at the front page of the Saturday February 20th Courier and said "That's my tree!" and my heart sank a little because I had just felt that something had happened to it. I live in Findlay, but travelling down the highway every weekend of every summer for the last 5 years, en route to camp in Bluffton, I would always smile and say "there's my tree", and think about the history and wonder what lucky family had the honor of looking out their window and seeing that massive, beautiful thing. Or, better still, OWN IT! It's so sad to know it won't be standing there when I round the corner of the highway there, but I will still smile, knowing it existed, held memories of its own, and was cared for by people who respected it. And what a relief to know that it meant just as much to others as it did to me. Thank you!
Julie Breitigam - As I looked at the front page of the newspaper this morning, I quickly blurted out, “They cut down my tree!!” I had been mesmerized by this tree for so many years. I feel very fortunate to have taken some black & white photos of this stately beauty, many years ago. Thank you for sharing this story for those of us who have adored its beauty over the years!
Cindy Mullennax-Logsdon - I live in Findlay and travel I-75 several times a year. For as long as I can remember, I have always slowed down to look at the Old Oak. I have always mentioned to my family how this tree has survived over the hundreds of years. Clearing land for farming, wind storms and tornadoes and building I-75. I always admired the farmers who kept it standing. I always wanted to stop and get a picture but always said next trip. (I will keep the Couriers article in my memory book.) Thank you for the story and loving this tree.
Erin Rinto -My husband and I moved from eastern Ohio to Lima in 2006. I am from Toledo so we traveled I-75 frequently, and of course I noticed your tree. I must say it was the most beautiful tree I’ve ever seen. We moved to Monclova in 2013, and I added several “Trees of Life” like your mighty oak to our home. As the years have passed, each time we drove the corridor between Toledo and Lima, I looked for that tree. Sadly, I noticed that half of the tree had died this past year, and found it so fitting for 2020. Thank you for sharing your story. I will miss it on my southern journeys.
Brian Lane - I saw this tree every day on my route and I watched as it came down.
Mike DeWeese - Great story on the big white oak!! We could see the tree from our house on CR9.
Heather Hunt - This has been my “favorite” tree for years. I was so glad to read you are making things from it. It was so spectacular.
Thomas Wayne Brown - Having seen so many trees die in my life time, Elms from the Dutch Elm disease, Ash from the Emerald Ash Borer. It is sad to see this Oak landmark come down. But I do understand it’s at the end of a long, long life. Traveling I-75, I have noticed this tree for many years and just recently came by when I seen a Woman and Children out in the field in front of the tree. Must have been when you were taking photos. Thank you for the article on this tree. If the age is correct, it was growing before Ohio was a State!!
Dave Morgan, Findlay OH - I have noticed this tree for the past 50 years. I have always felt it had to be there during the Civil War. I am so thankful for the article about it in the Findlay Courier. It confirms how many people noticed this huge tree standing in a farm field. I always felt the owners left it there for a purpose.
Jenny Kirtley Evans - This tree was my constant on my everyday commute to work. I have to admit I was crushed when I saw it was gone, but glad to hear the story!
Scott Anderson - I observed this tree for decades on weekly drives from Findlay, OH to Lima, OH and always thought it was the finest tree in Hancock County. Looking forward to the lumber that will be produced from this unique specimen.
Courtney McClintock - I would love details on the lumber that will be available from this wonderful tree. I would always admire its breath-taking beauty and thank God for his amazing creation on my drive to and from visiting my family down in Wapakoneta. I'm so sad to see it gone but I would love to pass down a piece of it to my children.
Heather Chan - My husband grew up in Bluffton. I moved to Findlay in 2003 to attend UF, where we met. Since we started dating, any road trip on I-75 always included him mentioning his “favorite tree.” We admired it on every trip, and I even made him a valentine picturing the Sentinel Oak that said “you’re my favorite.” While we dated, I moved to Cincinnati for a few years for grad school. The three hour drives on the weekend were long, but seeing the Sentinel Oak on my trips back to Findlay was always the mile marker to know that I was home. It’s always been a reminder of love and anticipation for us.
Admittedly, I shed a few tears looking at your website this week. But then, through the same the lens of love and anticipation, I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 4:16-17: “...Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”
Thank you so much for the opportunity to be part of this story.
Ron Elliot - Very nice tribute to a tree that obviously touched and impacted a very lot of people! And these stories are just from current folks ... imagine how many more were equally affected in the previous century(ies). We have an awesome God! I love your web-site, thank you for your effort in putting this together.
Danielle Manely – My Tree - I realize now after seeing this page it is not "my tree" as I so 'enduringly' state as I pass on our travels back and forth to and from Michigan and Indiana. I first noticed this tree as I dated my now husband in 2014 when I would visit him long distance. It instantly became my most loved tree I'd ever seen - A highlight to watch out for off the freeway. I snapped many pictures through the years but one became frame worthy and awaits its special spot on the wall. Especially now that I see the impact this special soul had on so many, it will never be forgotten. Hoping we will be able to retrieve a piece of it to be put with our picture we have.
Brad M. Lennex - On a recent trip up I-75 I sad to see that the beautiful tree had died and has been cut down. I wonder how many travelers, like myself, have waited to see that beautiful Oak on the east side of I-75 as an ever present sign that we’re nearing home. The word majestic comes to mind. You all are doing a great thing with this site!
Allison Mendenhall - I can't put into words the way you touched my soul. I cried the day I drove up 75 and saw a person in the field in their pickup for I knew then what I had been trying to deny that you were sick and your days were numbered. A life well lived and the stories and history you could have told if you had had a voice.
Timothy Kent Bechtol - I recently lost a dear old friend. A friend who could speak to me without words. A friend who was always there waiting for me at the edge of town when I came home after a long trip away. A noble & majestic friend who sheltered animals and enjoyed the fresh country air. This friend had seen many changes come over the landscape of NW Ohio over a lifetime . . . a lifetime that spanned longer than the full age of our nation.
In 2005 I took a pilgrimage out once a month to see my friend. I recorded each visit with these photos. Over the years I grew to love my friend, despite its random minor imperfections which only gave it more character. Although I realize that my friend's health had failed severely over the past few years, I am still sad to see it go.
Nicole Knepper - My father's friend of over forty years passed away last week. Earlier this week, we took my parents on vacation with us to Tennessee. As we drove past your tree on I-75, my father commented that that was Dick's favorite tree and they always would stop to look at it on their many trips to Louisville, Kentucky. My dad is a man of few words, but later he commented that it was really weird that he died and the tree is no longer standing. We later found your website and more information about the tree. I am very interested in purchasing a piece of the tree for my dad.
Andrew Giles - My wife and I were hopeful to do a vow renewal under that tree for one of our anniversaries but it never happened.
Joe Keller - My wife and I were so sad to see this beautiful tree was no longer standing. She always referred to it as “her tree” when we would drive between Huron (where she grew up) and Dayton/Cincinnati in our dating and early years of marriage. It was always such a special symbol for us.
Phrine’ Shortino - I just moved from California in 2001 to Lima Ohio when we decided to go to Tokyo Steak House when I saw the tree and her awesomeness. I told my best girlfriend about this tree and how I had to meet her, touch her, hug her, so we set out on this adventure. We had a picnic under this tree and all I could imagine was if she spoke what stories she would have to share. I imagined President Lincoln alive saw her and she saw him pass by dead as well. I imagine Indians, civil war and so much more. So I called her ‘The Tree of Stories’. I brought my kids, my husband and friends to this tree. I have fond memories of this tree. I even shared it with my family in San Diego and showed her picture to an artist on Venice Beach. I told her my story, gave her a picture, told her her name ‘The Tree of Stories’ and she was going to paint her (the Tree). I love this tree. Thank you for your kindness and sharing this tree. The Tree Hugger
Sherri Winegardner - I drove to Findlay to my job at Blanchard Valley Hospital for 30 years using I-75 north. I love trees, especially those that are lone, large, and old. Every day and every season, I would look at the tree as I drove by and admire its immense size and wonder at what the tree had witnessed during its lifetime. Was it always solitary, when did it sprout, who was the first human to see its beauty, rest in its shade, or climb its branches? How many animals and birds had been born in, found food, rest, comfort, and protection amidst its cover? What had the tree observed as the surrounding landscape and world around it changed over time? I had a deep sense of wonder every time I viewed it and knew that it was probably the oldest living thing I would ever see. I watched with melancholy as the great tree gradually progressed over the years to a sparse cover of leaves on its branches, from its once lush green canopy of leaves in the summer. I aged, the tree aged, but on a much slower timeline. The tree was a constant during my commuting days and the day that I first saw it felled brought a sense of loss and sorrow. It’s good to know that the tree will live on and continue to bring joy to others. It will remain a constant for others, just in another form. I hope that I may be lucky enough to own just a small piece.
Craig Decker - This tree was the first thing that I saw that impacted my travels starting in 2018 when I switched jobs from Lima to Findlay! I watched the tree leaf out every year for two years and wondered why the farmer chose to leave this tree stand while clearing all the rest. Its shade will be missed!!
Heidi Hunsaker - My family and I have admired the tree for years. We nicknamed it the “Tree of Life”. When it became sick, the large branch broke, we knew it’s time was near and we were so heartbroken to see it gone.
John Spidel – It was “my tree” too. It shouldn’t surprise me to learn that many others loved this tree and called it “theirs”. I first noticed it in the 1980s, on one of many drives from Greenville, Ohio to visit my grandparents in Detroit. Since then I’ve made at least 200 trips past it, each time anticipating the moment it would unfold into view and marveling at it once it did.
A photo of the tree has been my screensaver since Fall of 2016, when I must admit I finally trespassed, pulling off I-75 to walk through the harvested field and spend an hour or so under and around it. As bloggers have pointed out, to call The Sentinel a white oak is only partially accurate. “White” is a sub-family within the oak genus (Quercus), containing several species which include: White Oak (Quercus alba), Swamp White Oak (Q. bicolor) and Bur Oak (Q. macrocarpa). From the leaves—as well as several acorn caps—I found that day, I can confirm that The Sentinel was most certainly a Bur Oak. Burs and Swamp Whites have very similar bark and their leaves can also be confused, but there is no mistaking the Bur Oak acorn. It’s the only northern oak acorn with a heavily fringed cap that encloses half or so of the nut. I measured the trunk that day, 4.5’ above ground level, at 23’ 2”.
Like others who have shared their memories of The Sentinel, I learned it had been felled from my brother. I’d noticed its decline over the past several years, so the news was sad but not unexpected. The Sentinel is the main reason that Bur Oak is my favorite tree species and was my motivation to become a volunteer certifier for the Michigan Big Tree Program. I’ve only had the honor of certifying one Bur larger than The Sentinel (293” circumference @ 4.5’ high), but it’s nowhere near as photogenic. Thank you so much for offering to literally share this monumental creation with those of us who revered it. I look forward to purchasing my own little piece of The Sentinel and eventually passing it down to one of my own three “acorns”. P.S.: Sorry again about the trespassing...
Paul Szydlowski, West Chester, OH - This tree has been a part of our family's travel memories for a quarter century. I first began pointing this tree out when the kids were little any time we drove past the 155 mile marker on I-75 just south of Findlay, OH. It became a game as the kids would refuse to look as I said something along the lines of "That's a big (or old or huge or whatever) tree. I had to resort to trickery - "look at the deer!" or "What's that?!" - to get them to look reflexively. It became a game, a joke, and finally a tradition. It also became a milestone - Q: Where are you? A: I just passed the Big Tree.
About four years ago, the tree dropped a lower limb, which was eventually removed, but it became obvious it had taken a toll on the tree, which began to noticeably decline in health. Yesterday, I came around the bend heading south where I could always see the crown above the other trees before it came fully into view, but it wasn't there. Finally, I saw the remnants laying beside the road. I had stopped last year hoping to get close to see what species it was but it was surrounded by crops I didn't want to disturb. Fortunately, we weren't the only ones intrigued by the tree and its demise made the local paper. It was a swamp white oak - same as the three inch caliper tree I planted in my back yard. Maybe it too will survive for 300 years.
Brian Liddick - I have always admired this beautiful tree. I have lived in Bluffton for 30 plus years and have driven by so many times while commuting to work ant Blanchard Valley Hospital. I often thought of what a rich history this tree must have. Thank you so much for sharing!
Winnie Boal - I'm so sorry the Sentinel Oak was dying and had to be cut down. It's the highlight of a long drive I make several times a year.
Diana Balint – Years and Years of Greetings - Always in our traveling home, north on I-75, I felt the tree a signpost of welcome. For more than 45 years, I looked for it and felt warmth and calm knowing it was there and standing guard for so many years.
Christina Baker - My favorite tree - I love this tree so much!!! Always look forward to seeing it on our way north. I dreamed of having a picnic under her. I would love to have a piece of it someday. I would make something beautiful out of it.
Larry and Kris Donaldson - My wife and I have viewed the Sentinel Oak many times over the last 39 years as we travelled back and forth to Detroit visiting her family. We have commented on many occasions what a perfectly shaped oak tree it was. We are fortunate to have a neighbor who owns an oak tree, not as big as the Sentinel Oak, but our estimate is that this tree is approximately 250 years old. We hope it lasts as long as the Sentinel Oak because in the heat of the summer, the oak next to where we live shades our entire house.
Richard Wunderley – My first memories of the tree are from the early 1970’s and seeing it as I rode motorcycles up and down I-75. It was certainly a majestic landmark. Though sad it is gone, I am glad that a farm family who obviously understand husbandry and the farmer’s role as caretaker of the land were in possession when the time came to take that beauty down. It would have been a crying shame to have had a big, bottom line agri-business guy see it as simply an obstacle to be cleared away to increase his profit margin. Thank you so much for being the stewards that you are. God bless.
Ethan Cheney - Since I can remember my step mom has been in love with this tree. She has been driving past it since she was a little girl.
Kathy McPherson - My family moved from Darke County Ohio to Detroit Michigan in 1966. “My Tree” was always there to greet me as I traveled I-75. As a teen, adult with my children and now my granddaughter, we watched for this tree and admired her beauty no matter the time of day or night, weather conditions, sunny, raining, in the moonlight, serious snow storms, she always stood out. It was almost like she watched over me. Earlier this summer, while driving southbound, my granddaughter, age 13, eyes huge in disbelief, said “Grandma your tree is gone”. We were speechless! I will miss my friend dearly, who stood as my beacon during the hundreds of trips as she has always been there with me through all of life’s various situations. She wasn’t just a tree!!!
Patti Ward - My son moved to Ohio from Michigan after college. He comes home a few times a year and on a return trip he mentioned the large tree resting in a large field. This tree was always a landmark for him coming and going from Michigan. One day he drove by and saw it was gone. Almost like the loss of a traveling companion.
Sandra Durm - I have traveled all over the United States and I have never found a more beautiful tree. I must have traveled by at least 30 times and took a picture every time. It is my screensaver and now receiving a photo to hang on my wall. Looking forward to getting a piece of the tree as a forever memory.
Sharon and Greg Hill - Driving back and forth from Cincinnati OH to Traverse City MI many times over the past 20 years, we would get ready at mile marker 150 to say hello to “The Lonely Queen” as we called her, at mile marker 154. She was our majestic matriarch of the farm lands of Ohio that greeted us every trip we took to get back and forth to our home and work. We have many snap shots we took as we would see her in every season and know she waited for us to go safely by every trip. We were sure she waved to us several times and we would bow to her from our car. We were so sad to see her when she wasn’t feeling well and knew it was just a matter of time before she fell or was taken down. This past trip, we saw the sign placed by her stump by the highway and were so glad to find out she had an immense fan club! Know that we are with you all in our admiration for her and the memories she helped us build. May her seedlings be many and please reach out to us to let us know how we can be part of her legacy.
Laurel Gearig - Like many others, anytime I drove by on the many trips from Cincinnati to Perrysburg or Swanton to see my family, I would call out “There’s my tree.”
I was crushed to see that it lost a branch one year and then after a year of not visiting because of COVID, seeing that it had been cut down.
I am glad that you chose to cut it down and make it available to the many people who noticed and loved its beauty. Thank you so much for the history and facts and the videos and stories that you have and are sharing. I would love to have a small piece of God’s tree alive in my home.
1571 - 1721 - An acorn found fertile soil
2019 - Partial Leafing of tree
2020 - 1/2 of the tree did not leaf out. An arborist was consulted and said that the tree could stand and slowly rot or be cut down for lumber.
2021 - ODNR and several professional tree cutters were consulted.
2021 - The Sentinel Oak is scheduled to be cut down on February 19th.
2022 - Lumber will be seasoned and ready to go into kiln
2022 - Kiln dried lumber will be available for purchase. To continue the Sentinel Oak's legacy in live edge tabletops, counters, coat racks, cutting boards, bowls, ornaments, and other furniture and decor that can last 100-1000 more years. We also know an Amish builder who can make pretty much anything you can imagine. We are excited to watch and help YOU create or design with this wood!