Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Hidden Gems: Alabama Tales That Grow On Trees

Our Hidden Gems series continues and the next stop is Alabama. Unbeknownst to many, Alabama has several famous and unusual trees that carry stories that most Alabama natives know nearly and dearly. From a tree that owns itself to trees with naturally formed letters, we take a look at these unusual trees and their back stories. 

From the blog post "From ancient underwater forests to oak that 'owns itself:' Strange Alabama tales that grow on trees" written by Kelly Kazek.
The Tree that Owns Itself

 A post oak in the picturesque town of Eufaula was, by some accounts, more than 200 years old when it achieved its liberation and subsequent fame in 1936. It had survived mishaps – the fire that destroyed the home of Confederate Capt. John A. Walker, in whose yard the oak stood, and a terrible tornado in 1919.

Mrs. Leonard Y. Dean, president of the Eufaula Garden Club in 1936, wanted to ensure the 65-foot-tall, 85-foot-wide tree survived for another 200 years. So she petitioned Mayor Hamp Graves Sr. and the city council, who asked Lt. Gov. Charles S. McDowell to draw up a “deed of sentiment.” In essence, the tree was deeded to itself.

But misfortune struck on April 9, 1961, when a storm toppled the mighty Walker Oak. A local business, International Paper Co., came to the rescue and donated a new oak. On April 19, 1961, the replacement tree was planted in the same spot.

Another “Tree that Owns Itself” is located in Athens, Ga.

The Boyington Oak

In 1834, a murder and subsequent hanging led to one of Mobile’s most enduring legends, the tale of the Boyington Oak.On May 11 of that year, local printer Charles R.S. Boyington, a known gambler, was seen walking with Nathaniel Frost, a man he reportedly owed money. When Frost was found stabbed to death near Church Street Graveyard, Boyington was the obvious suspect. He was convicted but, until the moment he was hanged on Feb. 20, 1835, Boyington declared his innocence.

He reportedly said that, after he was buried, a mighty oak would spring from his heart to prove his innocence. And an oak did grow atop his grave in Church Street Graveyard, where it can be seen today.

Orr Park’s Tinglewood

A walk through Orr Park in Montevallo is like a stroll through a storybook land. Cedar trees carved with likenesses of gnome-like faces and dragons line a winding trail near Shoal Creek. Visitors will see as many as 30 trees carved by local artist Tim Tingle, who carves only trees that are dead or dying and leaves the living ones to add to the park’s natural beauty. The project was begun in 1993 after several trees killed in a storm were slated to be cut down. Tingle asked the city for permission to carve the trees into artworks.

Stay Tuned for Part 2 of Hidden Gems: Alabama Tales That Grow on Trees!