Just how old is The Sentinel Oak? The simple plan was to count the rings in the stump after felling the tree. This proved impossible, as the center of the tree was hollowed out and reduced to something resembling potting soil. So, we would need to estimate the tree’s age based upon the information at hand. The trunk cross-section we investigated was 9’-8” in diameter. Starting from the outside edge of the stump, we counted 101 rings in the first 18” of intact wood. The Sentinel’s radius was 4’-10” or 58”. Assuming the rings had been of uniform width to its center, the Sentinel’s age would have been 325 years. But this is at best, a conservative estimate, as it is not our intention to exaggerate the Sentinel’s age.
If the tree were still standing, and we were attempting to estimate the tree’s age based on the tree’s dimensions, a different age results. Purdue University indicated an estimate could be determined as follows. Multiply the tree’s growth factor (5 for a white oak) by the tree’s diameter in inches at a height of 4’-6” above ground level. The Sentinel’s diameter at 4’-6” was 85.56 inches. When multiplied by the growth factor of 5, the age is estimated at 428 years.
Given these two estimations, the Sentinel started to grow in either 1695 (325 years ago) or 1592 (428 years ago). We would like to think the tree’s beginning was 1592, but we will never know for sure. - Mark Meyer