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 Posted: Sun Aug 10th, 2008 12:57 pm
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javal1
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CNN reporting this sad news which will be in our news column later today:

GETTYSBURG, Pennsylvania (AP) -- Standing just 150 feet from the platform on which President Lincoln delivered his most famous speech, one of the few remaining "witness trees" to the Battle of Gettysburg has been severely damaged by a storm, National Park Service officials said.

The huge honey locust tree on Cemetery Hill fell Thursday evening.

"The top of it is totally broken off, and [the storm] severely damaged 70 to 80 percent of the tree," Gettysburg National Military Park spokeswoman Jo Sanders said. "That means there's not a whole lot left of it. But it didn't kill the tree."

The tree, which stood on the right side of the Union lines, "was there as a silent witness -- to the battle, to the aftermath, to the burials, to the dedication of the cemetery," park historian John Heiser said.

"I have no doubt that Union soldiers sat under it for all three days of the battle," he said.

Park maintenance officials will decide what to do with the remains of the tree.

"When it's something this bad, it's highly doubtful that a tree like that can survive," Heiser said.

Heiser said he knows of only three other witness trees that still stand in the heart of the battlefield.

"It's a shame when you lose the last living entities on this battlefield," he said. "Nothing lives forever, unfortunately."



 Posted: Sun Aug 10th, 2008 04:18 pm
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Captain Crow
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Truly sorry to hear this. That tree was witness to some of the greatest events in our history..including-in my opinion-the most moving speech ever delivered by an American President.
In the end the historical knowledge we obtain and pass on to others through written and spoken word is the only witness that endures.



 Posted: Tue Aug 12th, 2008 08:33 pm
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pamc153PA
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Sorry to hear that--back in April, I was just talking to a bunch of my ninth grade students in the shadow of that same tree about what a witness tree was and it's significance to history--something other than just a gnarled old honey locust.

Let's see if anyone knows their trivia: what are the other three witness trees on the battlefield? I can guess there's one up on the back side of Devil's Den, between the top of the boulders and the Triangular Field (the road is built around it), but that's just a guess, and my only one!

Pam



 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 12:30 am
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Captain Crow
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 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 12:32 am
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Captain Crow
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would this be the one you were thinking of?



 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 01:58 am
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pamc153PA
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That's the one! I was standing there under it a couple weeks ago, thinking there must be some reason they didn't cut this one down when they took the rest.

Pam 



 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 03:08 am
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Rebel Yell
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What about the leaning tree that supposedly marks the spot where Heth was hit??? Is that one still there???



 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 02:27 pm
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lifl2003
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Very sad to hear about the tree. 

Does anybody know the correct location of the "other 3 trees?"

Mike



 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 03:28 pm
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RMGB17
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I will be going to Gettysburg in a couple of months and have to take a look at where the tree fell and to see the surviving others that still stand.



 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 04:19 pm
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javal1
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Keep in mind it's been over a decade since my last visit to GB, but last time I was there I remember:
  • One witnes tree at Bigelow's Batery near the Trostle farm
  • Two (possibly three) along Baltimore Street
  • One Black Walnut benind Union lines near the stone wall near the Angle
  • The one in the cemetery that started this thread
  • The one on Devils Den pictured in this thread
That's al I recall.



 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 07:02 pm
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pamc153PA
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Reb,

I'd forgotten about the Heth tree. About 3 years ago was the last time I saw that one (walked back to it) and it was in poor condition. For some reason, I recall hearing that it fell in the last couple years, though don't quote me on it.

Anyone ever see the two old catalpa trees in front of Chatham? Last time I was there (five years ago), they were in sad shape but still hanging on.

I'm a tactile kind of person, so, though it may sound weird, it's really cool for me to be able to touch something like a witness tree and know it was there, then, and "saw" it all.

Pam



 Posted: Mon Aug 18th, 2008 05:13 pm
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javal1
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Update on Gettysburg’s Witness Tree


- Damaged in Storm on August 7



On the afternoon of August 7, 2008, a sudden storm caused severe damage to

a Honey Locust tree in the Soldier’s National Cemetery, within Gettysburg

National Military Park. The tree is one of many “Witness Trees” within the

park – so called because they have been living since before the 1863 civil

war battle and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.



“The good news is that – despite some reports to the contrary – the tree

was not entirely destroyed,” said park Superintendent John A. Latschar.

“Some of the main trunk and several living branches were unharmed. The

Honey Locust is a resilient tree, and we have high hopes that it will

live.”



A number of Witness Trees on the Gettysburg battlefield have been well

known and frequently pointed out for years during battlefield tours. In

addition, a number of previously unknown Witness Trees have been identified

by the National Park Service during preparatory work for the park’s

battlefield rehabilitation efforts.



When the park removes nonhistoric trees on the battlefield in major battle

action areas to return areas to their 1863 appearance, we preserve Witness

Trees. Park employees use a chart developed by the International Society of

Arboriculture that identifies a tree’s approximate age by using a

measurement of the width of the tree trunk (diameter at breast height) for

each tree species at Gettysburg. Park surveys have identified a number of

additional Witness Trees throughout the Gettysburg battlefield and there

are probably many more in areas where the park has not conducted surveys.





The National Park Service has donated wood from the Honey Locust’s storm

damage to the park's non-profit partner, the Gettysburg Foundation. The

Foundation is exploring ways to use the wood to raise money for Gettysburg

battlefield preservation.



 Posted: Mon Aug 18th, 2008 06:47 pm
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mikenoirot
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I believe the only Witness tree to fall, was the one at Evergreen Cemetery, near where Lincoln gave his address.  The one at Devil's Den was not affected.  I took this picture of it, in April.

 

Attachment: Witness Tree at Devils Den 4 08.jpg (Downloaded 33 times)



 Posted: Mon Aug 18th, 2008 06:51 pm
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mikenoirot
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Here is a picture of the Devil's Den Witness tree, from May 2007.  I sure pray it is stll there.  I have a lot of other battlefield pictures on my website.  There should be a link to it on my profile.

 

Attachment: Witness Tree at Devils Den 5 07.jpg (Downloaded 34 times)



 Posted: Tue Oct 7th, 2008 11:35 pm
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pamc153PA
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I saw an article in this month's Civil War News about the witness trees at Gettysburg. It said that in addition to the honey locust in the cemetery that fell, there are six others identified so far: a white oak on the site of Smith's Battery overlooking Devil's Den (this is the one I thought of, and that we have some pics here of); a white oak along Culp's Hill tour road near the monument to the 78th and 102nd New York; two other white oaks on Culp's Hill that stand with a boulder between them; a black walnut off of Hancock Avenue named for General John Gibbon who is said to have rested under it after being wounded; and a swamp white oak across from the Trostle Farm.

It also mentions that they expect to find more as they continue with the historic timber cutting.

So I know where the Devil's Den white oak is, and I think I know where the swamp white oak is because I've walked that area often on foot, but I guess I'll be heading out to Culp's Hill next time! Any of you have an idea what's near the "John Gibbon" black walnut, for a landmark?

Pam



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