While we're in Mississippi, I'm try to occupy our time and see all the local attractions that there are to be had. We've certainly taken our time combing through local eateries, buffets, and anything related to food - but to date we haven't taken much time to explore to sites and events that are available. My friend Brianne for Christmas got me the book Mississippi: Off the Beaten Path and I've Last weekend we set out to explore one in the items in the book: The Friendship Oak.
The Friendship Oak is a 500+ year old tree on an abandoned tattered campus of the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast. It's actually really amazing to see the tree still standing, growing and thriving, amid the aftermath Hurricane Katrina left to the buildings it is surrounded by. The college campus while abandoned is still actively seeking funding to restore the historic buildings that once housed it collegiate classes - but until that comes the Friendship Oak continues to grow as it has since 1487. It's such a poetic juxtaposition. The tree is beautiful.
Prior to Katrina there was a platform and a staircase that allowed you to get into the tree without any issue and to look out and around the surroundings. People got married there, classes were held there, I'm sure it was beautiful. Now all of that has been removed and the tree continues to grow. Last measurements that I can find are that the tree is 50-foot height; diameter of the trunk is 5 feet 9 inches; circumference of the trunk is 18 feet 7 inches; spread of foliage is 156 feet. The average length of the main lateral limbs is 60-66 feet from the trunk; average circumference of the limbs at the trunk is 7 1/2 feet; the tree forms almost 16,000 feet of shelter; and lateral roots go out 150 feet.
We were a bit shocked when we arrived to see the campus in such a state that it was, questionable if we were even allowed to be there... but with several other tourists stopping by and the several drive-bys done by the local police we assumed it was allowed.
Ace was really excited to see such a big tree. He and his dad went straight to climbing and later had fun chasing each other around the giant branches and finding acorns that were all over the ground. Mae just kept staring around at her surroundings, unsure where we had toted her to this time. :)
It was a fun outing that was free an interesting to see a part of history. I mean it's not every day you get to see a 500+ year old tree that has survived and is surrounded still by so much devastation. Nature is quite an amazing thing sometimes.