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Mingo Oak


The Mingo Oak stood near the head of Trace Fork of Pigeon Creek near the Logan-Mingo county line. A monarch of the mountains, the tree was reported to be the largest white oak in the world. For the last 100 years it lived, the Mingo Oak was one of the best-known shrines in West Virginia. Residents referred to it as ‘‘the church in the wild woods’’ because early settlers erected a pulpit surrounded by rustic benches beside its massive trunk. Almost every Sabbath day during the summer and early fall, rural ministers gathered their followers to conduct religious services underneath the canopy of green. It has been estimated that more than 500 sermons were preached there.

The Mingo Oak was cut down on September 23, 1938, after succumbing to the fumes of a burning coal refuse pile. It was cut by a special crew imported for the purpose from Webster County. The tree was felled by two loggers, Paul Criss and Upton ‘‘Uppie’’ Sears, with the help of Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees. At the time its age was calculated at 577 years, having sprouted in the year 1361. It stood 145 feet tall, just over eight feet in diameter at breast height, and had a limb spread of 96 feet. The trunk scaled at 15,000 board feet, and was calculated to weigh 55 tons. A movie was taken during the cutting, and sections of the Mingo Oak were preserved for the West Virginia State Museum and the Smithsonian Institution. Judge R. D. Bailey of Wyoming County had a gavel made from the wood of the tree. Approximately 2,000 people gathered to watch the fall of this West Virginia giant.

Written by Robert Beanblossom