Because I work in Sutton Hall, I think of the Oak Grove as the geographic center of campus, and I often use it as a point of reference (as in, "if you're in the Oak Grove, face Sutton, and the library is on the right"). But I have come to realize that it is also the emotional center of this campus. I'm so happy to be in an office that has a window facing the Oak Grove, and every day, I spend a few minutes checking out what is happening there.
Late in July, I was working late in my office during a fantastic thunderstorm. Buckets of rain, deafening thunder, and lightning way too close for comfort. The kind of storm that makes you cringe a little in your seat and feel so glad that you're not out in it. All of a sudden, "CRACK!" "That was WAY too close not to have hit something," my boss said to me. We looked out the window and, thankfully, could not see flames, so I went back to work.
Later that night, I saw a posting on Facebook from a colleague who works on the fourth floor of Sutton with a picture of the tree that was struck. Amazing. The lightning took the bark completely off one side of the tree in a perfectly straight line.
So, fast forward a couple weeks later. I get a call from Bill Yagle from the Indiana County Archaeology Society. This group has a booth at the Indiana County Fair each year, and the group was interested, this year, in the dedrochronology of this tree struck by lightning.
No, I didn't know what dedrochronology was either. It means "the scientific method of dating based on the analysis of patterns of tree rings" (thank you, Wikipedia).
Bill, who worked at IUP's Student Co-op Association for thirty years, wanted a ring from this tree. The ICAS then analyzed the ring, dated the tree, and is doing a display at the Indiana County Fair this year that shows what was happening at IUP (of course, it would have been Indiana State Teachers College or Indiana State Normal School, depending on what the rings tell them) at certain times in the tree's history. The Indiana Gazette did a great story on the project.
So, when you're getting your funnel cake, stop by the Indiana County Archaeology Society booth and check out some IUP history.