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Published September 04, 2012, 09:34 PM

NDSU forester takes a look at our past by looking at our trees

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- It's been said, trees are our best antiques. And an NDSU Forester is quickly learning what some of "Our" oldest trees are telling us about our regional history.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- It's been said, trees are our best antiques. And an NDSU Forester is quickly learning what some of "Our" oldest trees are telling us about our regional history.

Joe Zeleznik has found the oldest Burr Oak in America, near the grasslands and Sheyenne River of Leonard, North Dakota.

This is nature's timeline for the Red River Valley. Tree Rings dating back centuries. During drought, bad years, they get really narrow, small.

Telling the story of hard winters, tough springs on the banks of the Sheyenne. Really dry period in about 1630-1640. Gleaned from this old Oak Tree near Leonard. The oldest in America.

For 450 years, its weathered our storms.

Joe Zeleznik/NDSU Ext. Forester: "One of the things anthropologists have done, thru tree rings, looked at drought, like the dust bowl and they left. Moved away and tried to find better places."

NDSU's Joe Zeleznik studies trees.

Zeleznik: "It was in rough shape."

The longtime forester also recently studied this chunk of oak after the tree near Kragnes, blew down in last year's memorial day storm.

Zeleznik: "Dust bowl years, 1930's right here."

Nearly 300 years old. Unheard of in these parts.

Zeleznik: "Most of the oak trees in general, were cut down by settlers they needed firewood and fuel so most everything was cut."

Meantime Zeleznik is studying the first pioneer home here in Clay County north of Moorhead at the Probstfield farm, studying logs taken from trees in 1868.

A piece of our past. Today we just ask google to tell us about our weather years ago or our local history. When really all you have to do, is look at our trees.

Zeleznik says he plans on studying some of the other older logs in other pioneer cabins in our region.

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