In 1964, one of the oldest non-clonal living things in the world, Prometheus, a Great Basin bristlecone pine, was cut down. (This is important background information for a story I'm writing, and sequence of events is important.)

However, I cannot find any source on the internet as to which specific day in 1964 it was cut down, including at the National Park Service, which has been a little daunting…

Does anyone know the exact time when the tree was cut down, with greater precision than a year?


1 Answer 1


An article in the Los Angeles Times gives a date in August...

The tree, called Prometheus, took root at the dawn of the Bronze Age, centuries before the ancient Egyptians began construction on the pyramids at Giza. It outlasted the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, European colonialism, the Mexican-American War and the creation of the atom bomb. But it didn’t survive the chainsaw that felled it on Aug. 7, 1964, at the request of a scientist who wanted to study the tree’s rings.

Great Read: The ghost of Prometheus: a long-gone tree and the artist who resurrected its memory

However, another article gives the date as a day earlier...

It made no difference. On Aug. 6, 1964, the tree was on the ground in big sections. Cox participated in the hard work, as did two other Forest Service employees. One big rough-cut section, a foot thick and six feet long, was hauled out that same day and taken to the Nevada Northern Railway in Ely, which had the only saw big enough to slice the tough old monster into manageable sections.

Staying Alive / High in California's White Mountains grows the oldest living creature ever found

A third source mentions that, after permission was granted on Aug. 3, 1964, the intent was to cut the tree down on the 6th but reluctance on the part of a Forest Service worker to do so meant that it was only actually done on the 7th.

One Forest Service sawyer refused to cut the tree on August 6, 1964. The next day, Cox and several Forest Service crew members took turns at the saw.

Oldest Living Tree Tells All

  • 4
    I'd say something highlanderish: there can only be one date, for 'cutting down', and that's probably not the 6th… ? Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 14:31
  • 2
    @LаngLаngС 's link says "One Forest Service sawyer refused to cut the tree on August 6, 1964. The next day, Cox and several Forest Service crew members took turns at the saw."
    – jcaron
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 11:51
  • "Given the size…" is some heuristic that eludes me. We see just a size of a few feet of tree, in fact truly small for such an age. The description of that man being among the last to see Prometheus alive it was rather 'petite'? jstor.org/stable/1934900 Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 0:28
  • @LangLangC the size given here is the size of the section of wood, not the original tree. The section was six feet long which presumably would have been roughly the diameter of the tree, if I understand correctly. Wikipedia had images of the sump, unfortunately without scale, but it looks quite thick.
    – uUnwY
    Commented Sep 20, 2021 at 15:24

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