Giant oaks of the primeval forest
I came across an item in an old newspaper about a very large white oak that was harvested in Breckenridge County, Kentucky. It piqued my curiosity, so I located the stories of a few more big oaks that were cut from the virgin forests of the greater Ohio River valley. I've quoted four of the news items below.
As large as these white oaks were, they did not rival the size of a white oak that was cut in Holden, West Virginia, in 1938. That giant was reported to be the largest white oak in the world. It was 9 feet in diameter and nearly 100 feet tall, and it was estimated to contain 15,000 board feet of lumber.
Big Oak Log
It required ten horses to haul a big white oak log which was brought to town last week, by T. W. Sanders, to be shipped to Evansville[, Indiana, down the Ohio River]. The log measured out 1,519 feet, was 49 inches in diameter at the small end and 54 inches at the large end. It belonged to the timber firm of Cooper & Williams and was cut on a tract of land near Tar Springs. One of the finest lot of oak timber ever cut in the county was hauled to town this year from this tract of land, many logs out of several hundred averaging a thousand feet by measure.
Source: The Breckenridge news. (Cloverport, Ky.) November 02, 1904
Paris, [Kentucky,] May 17 .--A big oak that has for many years been an object of Riley Howse in Nicholas county has been sold to Ossian Edwards, of Paris, for $110. It measured forty-five feet in circumference and seven feet five inches in diameter. Large crowds witnessed the fall of the monster tree.
Source: Crittenden press. (Marion, Ky.) May 24, 1900
A Big White Oak
From the Chicago Tribune
A short time ago a New-York firm sent an agent to Scottsburg, Ind., to purchase a large white oak tree, which measured 27 feet in circumference. They bought the tree for $75, and set to work to get out as large a board as possible. The tree was felled and ripped up by means of a crosscut saw. They got out one board that was 10 inches thick, 5 feet 2-1/2 inches wide at the butt and 4 feet 8-1/2 inches wide at the top and 32 feet long. This board was loaded upon a broad-tread wagon to which two yoke of oxen and eight horses were hitched, and it took one whole day to remove it one and a half miles. This was probably the largest white oak tree in the United States.
Source: The New York Times, April 7, 1889
The largest white oak tree ever cut in the United States came out of Trumbull county, Ohio, a few years ago. It was delivered to a timber mill, and measured 62 feet in length and seven feet through, and contained 7,365 feet of lumber, board measure. It was located by Mr. Helman's buyers on C. K. Shipman's farm in Gustavus, Ohio, and $100 bought it. The Helman Company dressed the stick down to 30 x 30 inches, 62 feet long and shipped it to New York, where it is now used as a dredge anchor.
Source: Reading Eagle, Feb. 2, 1908