This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
C. S. Sargent, writes: A correspondent in California, sent me the following interesting and important note upon the durability of the wood of Quercus lobata. The specimen is still perfectly sound.
"It has occurred to me that it might interest you to know something of the durability of the California oak (Quercus lobata), of which I have some evidence; and I have therefore taken the liberty to send you by mail a sample (a cross-section at the ground-line) of a stick which, until last December, had stood in the ground exposed to the weather for more than fifty years, according to information, the correctness of which I cannot doubt.
" When I speak of durability, the heart portion is meant; for the sap or outside part of the tree soon decays. During a residence of now more than forty-two years in California, I have used more or less of this timber for fence posts; and the fences in some instances have stood twenty-five years, and even longer. But had pains been taken to select the heart only of this oak for the posts, I have no doubt the fence might have been made to last as easily fifty years. The part of the said stick below the ground line was more decayed than that above; therefore, the sounder end of the sample was the upper. I tried so to wrap it as to show even the grass growing about it.
Now as to the age of the said stick: " It was taken a few months ago by myself from an old mound on my farm. The mound had been the site of a large Indian village, and this stick had evidently formed a support for one of the houses or native huts which in shape are round. This and many other similar mounds here, forty years ago to my own knowledge, were already old and abandoned; and without the vestige of a house, except that on the circular rims that marked the site of huts, there stood here and there, protruding from the ground, some of the sticks used in building. Some of the Indians still live on my farm, occasionally one very old, over seventy. They say that the village your sample was taken from has had no people 'since the time when all the people died.' That was a well known date to the earliest Americans in California, to wit, 1826, (fifteen years before my arrival in California in 1841) when the small-pox almost literally annihilated the Indian tribes of this (Sacramento) valley. This sample must therefore have an age of not less than fifty-seven years".