Annapolis in Anne Arundel County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Trunk of the Three Mile Oak
Lower Plaque: Trunk of the Three Mile Oak
Under this tree passed General George Washington December 19, 1783 on his way to Annapolis to resign his commission as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Armies; and it is thought that General Smallwood accompanied by General Gates and distinguished citizens of Annapolis met General Washington at this spot. General Lafayette passed here December 17, 1824 to visit the friends of the revolutionary days.
Erected by Four Rivers Garden Club, Rotary Club of Annapolis.
Location. 38° 59.075′ N, 76° 32.676′ W. Marker is in Annapolis, Maryland, in Anne Arundel County. Marker is at the intersection of West Street (Maryland Route 450) and John Hanson Highway (U.S. 50), on the right when traveling east on West Street. Click for map. Marker is not easily seen from MD 450 as it is approximately 50 feet from roadway in the middle of “cloverleaf” area between US 50 overpass and MD 450 ramp to US 50, and hidden in the shadows of the oak tree behind it and the bushes to its left and right. Marker is in this post office area: Annapolis MD 21401, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 The Generalís Highway (approx. 0.2 miles away); Camp Parole (approx. half a mile away); Hockley-in-the-Hole (approx. 0.9 miles away); Annapolis Water Company (approx. 1.2 miles away); Aris T. Allen, M.D. (approx. 1.3 miles away); Who was Henry Davis? (approx. 2.1 miles away); John Snowden Memorial (approx. 2.1 miles away); Visionaries of the 1960s (approx. 2.1 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Annapolis.
More about this marker. The bottom brass tablet was originally located two-tenths of a mile further west on West Street at its intersection with Generals Highway (MD 178) and Defense Highway (MD 450). It was moved to its current location in 1967 to protect it from the growing road traffic. This tablet is the same one pictured in Horydczak and Besley photos below, on the concrete block beneath the trunk. The block remains at its original location. On the opposite side of the road from the site of the Three Mile Oak and original marker is a more modern historical marker erected in 1973 when the Equitable Bank and Annapolis Mall were built.
Regarding Trunk of the Three Mile Oak. The Three Mile Oak got its name because it stood three miles from the Maryland State House. Up through the early 1900s, prominent Annapolis citizens frequently met distinguished visitors at the Three Mile Oak and escorted them into town.
In 1783, Annapolis
1. About the Three Mile Oak
"Presumably a white oak, about six feet in diameter, located three miles from Annapolis, Anne Arundel County. A delegation met George Washington here on 12/17/1783, enroute to Annapolis (then the U.S. capitol) to resign his commission. A piece of the trunk is preserved at Anne Arundel Community College. The tree was struck by lightning, became hollow, was killed by fire, and finally blew down on 5/22/1909."
From Great Eastern Trees, Past and Present, by Colby B. Rucker, February 2004 (http://www.nativetreesociety.org/ bigtree/great_eastern_trees.htm)
2. Eva Dorsey Carr Gasperich
Looking through old copies of The Evening Capital, Annapolis' daily newspaper, I found several articles authored by Eva Dorsey Carr Gasperich and others on the subject of the Three Mile Oak. Mrs. Gasperich fondly remembered stories she was told by her grandparents and others about the importance of the Three Mile Oak in local and national history. In the mid 1900s she was trying to help raise awareness of original Trunk of the Three Mile Oak marker and the need to protect it from encroaching business and traffic. The marker was eventually moved to a new location in 1967. Mrs. Gasperich died in 1969.
In February of 1958, her poetic, two-part series about the tree envisioned Susquehannah and Piscatawey Indians making treaties of war and peace under its branches, Annapolis' founders meeting to establish Maryland's new capital, George Washington surveying the end of a new road from Williamsburg to Annapolis, farmers and planters debating British taxes, and finally where General Washington turned down an opportunity to become King of America. A quote from the last sentence of her first-part of the series: "But I remember Dr. Elihu S. Riley [Annapolis historian] most vividly of all, removing his hat to salute that ancient, imperial, expiring tree, the wind lifting his long gray 'Indian' locks. 'Revere this spot: This is the birthplace of our republic.
— Submitted February 23, 2008, by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland.
3. Herbert Hoover
Elmer M. Jackson, Jr. wrote a piece for The Evening Capital in Annapolis the day after the trunk of the Three Mile Oak was removed from its original location in November of 1967. In the article, Jackson recalled the last time the tree location was used to greet a visiting dignitary:
The oak was last used as an official meeting place during the administration of President Herbert C. Hoover. The Mayor of Annapolis, then Walter E. Quenstedt, members of the City Council and other municipal officials gathered at the oak to welcome Hoover on his visit to Annapolis for an engagement at the Naval Academy. They arrived early after making arrangements with the White House for a handshaking ceremony.
To the amazement of the Annapolis contingent, Hoover's motorcade moved pass the astonished Annapolitans while travelling at a speed estimated at 60 miles an hour. There wasn't even a wave from the nation's Chief Executive as his car whizzed by the waiting delegation members, who quickly got into their vehicles and took off in pursuit. They never caught up with Hoover and his party. The President, word was relayed, had experienced stomach cramps and was in a desperate hurry to get to the Superintendent's Quarters at the Naval Academy.
Years later, we mentioned the incident to Hoover when he was in Florida aboard his yacht, and while along in years the former President was still able to keep three secretaries on the hop. He only smiled when we reminded him of his hurried trip from Washington to Annapolis. He was a delightful gentleman.
— Submitted February 23, 2008, by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland.
4. Three Mile Oak Fire Stories
Colby Rucker (Additional Comments #1) summarized the destruction of the Three Mile Oak, which was “struck by lightning, became hollow, was killed by fire, and finally blew down on 5/22/1909." Iíve been searching for historic references to the fire and the eventual toppling of the tree, but so far have only come across a few interesting stories told much later.
In 1954, Richard Manning reported in The Evening Capital that the trunk of the Three Mile Oak was severely infested with termites and needed attention. As reported in his article, a Mrs. Minnie Richardson claimed the tree burned down in the late 1890s by some raccoon hunters who were trying to smoke out their prey from its hollow trunk. Mrs. Richardson lived on the farm where the tree was located, which had been previously
Eva Dorsey Gasperich tells in 1958 that the tree “went up in a pillar of fire one bitter, blowing winter night in early 1900.” She blamed the fire on a tramp using the hollow tree for shelter, heating his “stolen beans” and warming up his feet. All that was left the next day was a quarter of the charred trunk. Itís not clear if she was remembering the fire, the later wind, or both. The tramp story may be influenced by the fact that the area around Three Mile Oak was frequented by “hobos” and “gypsies”. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, several newspaper references can be found of bands of gypsies camping near Three Mile Oak, but they were cautiously reported as being “quiet, orderly people [who keep] to themselves during their stay.”
In 2007 while looking for the remains of the trunk at Anne Arundel Community College, I spoke with Dr. Hal Counihan, a history professor at the college. Dr. Counihan was present in 1988 when the college took possession of the trunk from the same Colby Rucker above, and reported that Mr. Rucker had kept the trunk in his tobacco barn since its removal from the concrete block in 1967. Dr. Counihan spoke of the careless hunters and gypsies, but he also had another interesting fire story.
— Submitted February 24, 2008, by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland.
5. Remembering three mile oak stump
I remember seeing an old hollow stump on the concrete block in the 1974 to 1979 time. I used to work near the site of the new bowling alley in building that burned down in December of 1979. I would get lunch from the liquor/deli store across from the stump.
— Submitted July 1, 2015, by Aubrey Francis Patterson of Annapolis, Maryland.
Categories. • Colonial Era • Military • Patriots & Patriotism • Politics •
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Editor’s want-list for this marker. Period photo of the tree, and of the intersection where it stood. • Can you help?