Roanoke College Says Goodbye to Historic Tree

Salem, VA - Roanoke College is about to lose its last physical link to the school's first President Reverend David Bittle.

Crews are preparing to cut down the historic "Bittle Tree" and nearly 100 people came out to honor the tree Wednesday afternoon.

The tree is set to be removed starting Thursday because it has been deemed unsafe due to age and disease. The job is expected to take more than a day.

Officials want it removed before next week's graduation, which for years, has taken place beneath the tree.

"People do weddings underneath it. They get their picture taken with their family at graduation. The alums come back and have their lunch under it. You know... it's part of the fabric," said Jon Cawley an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies for Roanoke College.

This is the last remaining of five tulip poplars Bittle planted in 1852.

Three seedlings taken from the tree are flourishing elsewhere on campus.