While we at Gettysburg Sentinels tend to focus on witness trees found on the battlefield, there are plenty of examples of witness trees that live or lived all across the United States. Many of these trees are so old that they would have been alive during multiple historical milestones.
The Methuselah Tree
One of the most famous of these wooden giants is the Methuselah Tree. The Methuselah Tree, which is located in California, is almost 5,000 years old! Due to its age and obvious hardiness, it has been used to study the impacts of climate change on the environment. However, don’t think about trying to plan a visit; the location of the Methuselah Tree is kept secret to prevent damage from the public.
The Liberty Tree
Another witness tree important to American history was the Liberty Tree. The Liberty Tree was located in Boston, Massachusetts, and was a popular meeting place for revolutionaries during the early days of the American Revolution. Some of the more notorious of those revolutionaries were the Sons of Liberty, American patriots famous for orchestrating the infamous Boston Tea Party. While the Liberty Tree was cut down in 1775 and used to create a wooden liberty pole in its place, a plaque marks where it once stood. 250 years later, the tree still serves as a symbol of independence in the former English colonies.
The Survivor Tree
In recent years, several memorials have incorporated witness trees as well. For example, when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed, an American elm tree nearby was damaged by flying glass, metal, and other debris. However, survivors and family members of the deceased petitioned for the tree to be saved. The tree - now known as the Survivor Tree - is a part of the Oklahoma City National Memorial, which memorializes the 168 people killed.
When it comes to witness trees, they offer so much more than may meet the eye. Dive deep into the fascinating facts about witness trees.
How you can help
Interested in supporting the preservation of these living wooden witnesses to history?
Advocate for legislation: People can contact their representatives to push for laws and regulations that protect areas where witness trees are located. This is especially helpful for witness trees that are not under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.
Donate: Make financial donations to parks and historical sites where witness trees are located.
Educate others: While the trees can’t talk, you certainly can share their stories with friends, family, and local residents in your community!
History in your hands
Witness trees serve as a way to connect us to our past. While there are several witness trees that were identified to have been alive since the Civil War, witness trees can be found in various places across the country. With their contributions to the study of history and science, it is easy to see why witness trees are protected by the National Park Services and may even be incorporated in memorials. Visiting one of these giants just might make you wish that those trees could talk!
Take a look at our unique hand-crafted items made from the wood of the Battle of Gettysburg. Each piece is made with care and attention to detail and is a perfect addition to any history enthusiast's collection. They also make wonderful gifts!
Order now and own a piece of history!