One of Cranford’s most iconic symbols is the large Pepperidge tree known as “Old Peppy”. This beautiful tree is located in the Lincoln Ave Park, near the corner of Benjamin St and lincoln Ave. The massive tree is believed to be at leat 250 years old, and has been cited as one of the finest specimens of Pepperidge Trees (Nyssa sylvatica). Affectionately known as “Old Peppy,” it is believed the largest tree of its kind in the northeast United States. When it was declared to be the official tree of Cranford in 1964, it’s height was 76 feet, and it’s diameter was a whopping 88 feet! Pictures of the tree adorn the basketball uniforms for the recreation center’s league, and framed pictures of the tree in all it’s autumn glory are given to members of the Township Committee in honor of their service.
Once a part of a local estate owned by the early settler John Denman, Old Peppy is believed to have already been 100 years old by the time Cranford was incorporated in 1876. Trees from that estate sup
plied lumber to refurbish the U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides). Old Peppy has been around a long time. It has borne witness to all of our history, from our town’s inception, through times of war and peace, through good times and bad. And, like the town itself, Old Peppy has overcome some difficult challenges. In 2009, the health of the tree became a concern when a large crack and multiple holes were found to be compromising the strength of the tree. At that time, limbs were trimmed and a fence was installed around the base of the tree. Unfortunately, on March 31, 2010, after a serious storm, the tree was discovered to have sustained serious damage. The tree had basically split in two parts, and it’s ability to endure was in question. In fact, local newspapers reported the damage with the headline “Strong Storm Takes Out Old Peppy”.
Luckily, like the town for which it is a symbol, Old Peppy is made of stronger stuff. Not only did it survive the strom of March 2010, it has continued to survive. Through recent earthquakes, historic hurricanes, and a freak October snow storm, Old Peppy continues to stand. Someone certainly knew what they were doing when they picked Old Peppy as the symbol of our town!