Dr. Gary Keever guessed 81. He was under by two to four years.
According to Keever, an Auburn Professor of Horticulture, and associate School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences professor Brian Via, the Toomer’s Oaks were between 83-85 years old when they were removed on April 23, though there were just 81 growth rings counted.
“The center one-inch section of the trunk was split and not clearly delineated,” Keever said in a press release. “This growth most likely occurred over two to four year….”
Despite still being reported by many news outlets as 130-years-old, a January 2012 study indicated the oaks’ age was only a little over half that, and had been likely been planted in 1937. The tree seen in the ubiquitous 1890s photo of Toomer’s Corner? Not one of the Toomer’s Oaks.
Despite the 2012 findings, Auburn still uses the photo to tell the oaks’ story on its official Toomer’s Oaks page and even approved its use in one of the official “Auburn Oaks” T-shirts.
“There’s a (1910) photo that shows College Avenue’s dirt road with a wagon going in the wrong direction and if you look closely you’ll see what looks to be a stump (of the tree),” Keever says.
“It’s not a clear shot, but you can see (in the 1899 photo) where the crosswalk is there running on the south side of the intersection and that tree was well beyond the cross walk. And it’s gone.”
You can see those photos here.
Pieces of the oaks are being sold as mementos (including sawdust-encrusted key chains), and master woodturner Matt Moulthrop is turning a portion of the wood into a bowl that will become part of the Jule Collins Museum of Fine Art’s permanent display.
Related: Toomer’s rollings did not start with Punt, Bama, Punt.
More on the the Toomer’s Oaks: Toomer’s Corner rollings didn’t start with Punt, Bama, Punt, says History / Did Auburn students celebrate Bear Bryant’s death by rolling Toomer’s Corner?
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I can’t wait for these guys to determine the age of Prof. Bill Davis one day.