Historic 'Bittle Tree' Joins Other Legacy Trees

Salem, VA - Thursday crews did most of the work needed to take down Roanoke College's historic "Bittle Tree."

The tree will live on through its seedlings that have been planted. All part of a series of trees on that campus that have real historic significance.

Since its founding Roanoke College administrators, from Reverend Bittle on up, have worked to foster cohesion between the campus and nature A purpose that took on a new direction 13 years ago when the campus began collecting trees that have literally witnessed major moments in our country's history.

"Campuses and sanctuaries are about sacredness. They are about forefathers. They are about context," said Jon Cawley who is an assistant professor of Environmental Studies at Roanoke College.

Gone in one form, maybe to be resurrected in another. Thriving seedlings ensure the trees' continued presence on this campus.

Seedlings that have good company including a tree grown from a cut of Osage Orange sent back by Lewis and Clark to Thomas Jefferson.

A white pine that is a seedling of the actual pine used by native Americans to literally "bury the hatchet" following times of war.

There's one that is part of Martin Luther King's history.

"He preached under it on hot days and this is the tree under which the civil rights march to the capital began," said Cawley.

Three others are descended from Civil War "witness trees" that not only watched over the penning of the song, "Taps", but also watched over the end of hostilities at Manassas... and at Appomattox.

Literary figures made the cut too. One tree descended from the cave mouth Mark Twain wrote about in Huck Finn.

On a darker note - one of Edgar Allen Poe's favorite trees is here too.

"He describes this tree in the Gold Bug and other stories. Usually with the moon behind it; usually with the mist," said Cawley.

All legacies growing under the last legacy of the man that started it all... that now itself has legacy trees of its own.

The College also has a direct cut growing from "the" apple tree credited with being the cover for musicians in Fries, Virginia - as they created blue grass and mountain music decades ago.

A future cut of that tree is currently being considered as a donation to the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.