AUDUBON — In an Arbor Day ceremony April 26, state Department of Environmental Protection and Camden County officials held a celebration of longevity and life — but not for a person.

However, if this were a person, it might be able to recall when George Washington was president.

A 226-year-old, 105-foot-high American elm tree, which DEP officials say was planted circa 1793, has been certified as the oldest of its kind in Camden County, and in fact, in all of New Jersey.

Audubon Commissioner Robert Jakubowski said while the tree does not predate the existence of either the United States or the Garden State, it began to grow more than a century before Audubon itself was founded. In 1793, the borough was still known as Newton Township, in Gloucester County. Camden County came later; then Newton became Haddon Township, and Audubon became its own municipality in 1905.

"This small, little borough of Audubon where it resides, where we love our little town, wasn't even a blip in anyone's eye yet," Jakubowski said.

There is now a plaque at the tree site to recognize its (literal and historical) stature, and it's within shouting distance of a memorial to Audubon's Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, which Jakubowski said the borough has more of, per capita, than any other town in the country.

As for the tree, it has survived not only historical happenings but rapid development. Jakubowski said it even outlasted the building of the White Horse Pike, which back in the 1920s was the longest illuminated highway in the U.S. The elm has been trimmed a few times to account for a nearby utility pole, but other than that, it stands unscathed.

"We didn't even know what kind of treasure we had on our hands until now," Jakubowski said. "So we're going to keep an eye on it. We're going to make sure it's healthy, that there's nothing in the way of it."

If you have an idea for a future installment of "Discovering New Jersey," contact Patrick Lavery, Senior Producer of Morning News and Special Programming, on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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