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Lightning claims Big Oak Farms 200-year-old tree
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Larry Nix talks about his sons’ tree house that was in a more than 200-year-old white oak tree that was split by lightning Wednesday night. In the background are portions of the tree house and a 1989 blue GMC truck, which was only dented on the hood. - photo by Clark Leonard

Lightning struck, and Larry Nix started down the hallway. The lights and television went out, but the biggest shock still awaited the longtime Hall County resident.

“Look at the tree,” his wife, Patricia Nix, said. “It’s gone.”

A white maple tree estimated by the Georgia Forestry Commission to be more than 200 years old was split in numerous directions by a Wednesday night lightning strike at their farm on Anglin Drive off Belmont Road/Ga. 332.

Some pieces flew across the yard and numerous large limbs fell beside the tree. The couple said they saw smoke coming from the top of the tree.

The tree is the namesake for Big Oak Farm, where Larry Nix farms hay and beef cattle. He and his wife of 52 years moved to the property in 1968, tore down an old house and built their current house in 1969.

His sons, Leslie and Andy, had a tree house in the massive oak that also came down during the storm.

“It’s like losing a family member,” Nix said.

Nix’s 1989 blue GMC pickup truck somehow managed to survive almost unscathed even as massive downed limbs, damaged power lines and a damaged fence were nearby.

“It’s got a dent on the hood,” he said of the truck. “And that’s it.”

He and his wife thought the storm was almost over when the tree was hit by lightning. The couple said they’ll most miss the tree’s shade and the tree house their sons played in.

Nix said the tree was the second-largest white oak in Hall County in a contest eight or nine years ago.

“I just hate to see it go,” he said.