The Skeleton of a Story: Deep Roots

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The Landmark Pine[CI1]


It’s the lone pine tree on the front/back cover of this book.

It’s a landmark tree.

Deep roots


The Louisiana Landmark Tree

The Louisiana Landmark Tree was given to these 28 Live Oaks, forming the entrance way to Oak Alley Plantation. These trees took root before the 1718 founding of New Orleans, and have lived through the rise and fall of several prominent families who made Oak Alley their home.


The Miller Oak

At least one witness tree from the well-known photograph of Union fortifications on Culp’s Hill is still standing. It is the tree with the red “W” on it. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Friday, November 28, 2008.

Mathew Brady was not the first photographer to record the Gettysburg Battlefield, and he certainly wasn’t the last, but he is the most famous. His Gettysburg series taken around July 15, 1863 were the first to include the Culp’s Hill area. The most famous Culp’s Hill photograph shows two of Brady’s assistants seated on some rocks near Union fortifications. The area where the photograph was taken is between the monuments to the 78th/102nd New York and the 150th New York Infantry Regiments. One of the trees in the photograph is still standing, and one fell over within the last ten years.

On that memorable November 1863 day when President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery (now Gettysburg National Cemetery), a young honey locust tree stood about 150 feet from the speakers platform. Being rooted on Cemetery Hill on the right side of the Union line, this tree, the “Gettysburg Address Honey Locust,” was a silent witness to the Battle of Gettysburg that had raged there during three momentous days in July.

There were lots of other witness trees at Gettysburg in 1863, but as the decades passed nearly all of them succumbed to storms, disease, insect damage, or the various infirmities of old age. By August 2008, more than 145 years after the battle, only the honey locust and a few other witness trees were left at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Witness trees are precious. Civil War buffs and historians seek them out, take their pictures, touch them, and marvel that these living things were witness to the battle. In the case of the honey locust, you had a tree that was a witness to the burials that followed and, of course, to Lincoln’s speech for the ages. Soldiers had undoubtedly sat beneath it and taken comfort in its shade.

When a witness tree is lost, its passing is mourned.

During the evening of August 7, a storm raced through the park. The huge honey locust had shrugged off the effects of many such storms, but now it was very old, and this time was different. The storm severely damaged it, taking its top off and wrecking most of what it wasn’t torn away. Officials estimate that only about 20 percent of the tree remains intact, and that is probably not enough to give it a fighting chance for survival.

You really can’t expect a tree like this to be around much longer, anyway. It’s not just that honey locusts are relatively fast growing and prone to lose branches in strong winds. They are also not particularly long-lived. It’s uncommon for one to live more than about 120 years. This one has been living on borrowed time for many years.

Park maintenance officials must decide what to do with the remains of the tree. Meanwhile, where there is life, there is hope.

What is a Witness Tree?

The name of our company is taken from the original public land surveys performed in the early 1800’s to map the land for European settlement. The corners of every section and quarter section were marked either by a post in a mound of charcoal in the prairies or by blazes on witness trees in woodland areas.

Ecologists use the witness tree information in the public land surveys to help describe the pre-European American landscape. These witness trees stood sentinel over the landscape as European settlers used the land’s resources to build the communities we live in today.

It is our vision the the witness trees of today will observe the reconnection of people with the natural world and a rediscovery of the value of the native landscape.


Lone Tree is located at 41°29′9″N 91°25′36″W_ / _41.48583°N 91.42667°W_ / 41.48583; -91.42667 (41.485871, -91.426692)[1].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.0 square miles (2.6 km²), all of it land.

Lone Tree is located alongside Iowa Highway 22. Its name derives from a giant elm that grew nearby in the pioneer era; as the only tree between the Iowa and Cedar Rivers, it served as a prairie landmark.[citation needed] This elm stood on a slight hill south of town. Local legend has it that the tree was so large, buffalo grazed under its expansive branches. It escaped prairie fires because of the lack of grass around the tree. The tree succumbed to the Dutch Elm disease of the 1960s, although valiant efforts were made to save it.

[edit] Demographics



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