Decades-old oak tree on Mill Lane is the latest victim of summer thunderstorms

An oak tree on Mill Lane collapsed onto Bill Ruland's rye crop during last week's thunderstorm. (Credit: Chris Lisinski)
An oak tree on Mill Lane collapsed onto Bill Ruland’s rye crop during last week’s thunderstorm. (Credit: Chris Lisinski)

If you’ve driven down Mill Lane anytime in the past few decades, it would have been tough to miss the towering oak tree standing alone over the open rye field. Unfortunately, that’s not what you’ll find today.

The iconic large tree near Mill Lane Farm in Mattituck was almost ripped in half during a thunderstorm last week.

The tree — located on Mill Lane in Mattituck just south of Route 48 — fell due to high winds, said farm owner and Town Board member Bill Ruland.

“It’s been there my whole life,” Mr. Ruland said.

Before falling, the oak likely stood at least 30 feet tall and two to three feet wide. Now, the upper portion has been nearly snapped off and leans against the ground.

“It’s the tree that fell over,” said Greenport photographer Bob McInnis in an email. “It was a real treasure.”

The same storm that killed the tree knocked out power for thousands across the North Fork last week.

The inside of the oak tree was likely rotting, Mr. Ruland said, making it easier for the oak to be knocked down.

While the tree is not technically on his property, its top half fell on a small portion of his rye field. Mr. Ruland started cleaning up the tree’s remnants on Tuesday, but he said it’ll take three to four days to clear the tree away.

“This is just a mess,” he said. “The wind must have been howling.”

He plans to pick up all of the branches and splinters that fell by hand. The central trunk will stay for the time being, he said.

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