The title of this work originated when I was giving a tour to visiting friends from Pennsylvania. I pointed out the Survivor Tree at the Oklahoma City Memorial when they responded "Witness Tree."
Prominent trees were called witness trees. They were used by settlers to locate corners of original grants or surveys. A mark would be cut into the trunk and location of the witness tree noted in the surveyor's field report.
The term also describes a living link to the past. A honey locust tree at the Gettysburg National Park was standing when President Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address, was a witness to the Battle of Gettysburg, and is alive today. The term is prominent among Civil War landmarks, our darkest hour as a nation. Remarkably, the new world proved to be an extraordinary natural wonder.
One such aspect of this is the Bristlecone Pine, the oldest living organism known, found in the sky islands of Nevada. One particular tree named “Prometheus” has been dated to be an astonishing 4,844 years old. It is thought that under present climatic and environmental conditions the rate of regeneration may be insufficient to sustain its population.
Witness Tree reconnects everything we were and will become, providing food, oxygen, building material, fuel for fire, shelter from the weather, and as any child knows, a climbable wonderland.