and then, goliath fell…

I’m telling you, I don’t care how firmly planted those oak trees look, I’m not taking any of them for granted, any more. How long does it take for them to work themselves up to falling? Is there an ominous creaking, for several days, or do they just crash down, out of the blue, without a warning rumble? Did anyone hear that one fall, with the traffic going by, through Clemson’s Downtown? How could they not have heard it, or seen it? I’ve heard there’s video footage, but haven’t found it yet.

It took two DAYS for someone to mention that a giant oak tree had fallen on Bowman Field. Considering how I enjoy playing Ultimate on that field, it didn’t take much for me to guess which ones might have fallen. They’re colossal! How had I not looked, when I passed that way, driving home? You couldn’t possibly miss it, could you?DSC_0821

But considering how it usually takes them less than a day to clear a fallen oak, just like when the Riggs tree fell, this was no ordinary oak tree. This link will show you what it looked like after the Bur Oak fell. I can’t get the picture any larger than that, but if you look carefully, the height of the tree on its SIDE is almost as tall as the oaks behind it, that are still standing.DSC_0822

When I heard that the Bowman tree had fallen, I immediately wondered if I had a picture of it. Some of you may remember how much I like to take pictures of trees, especially before the leaves grew back in the spring. So, after work, I hiked up to Tillman to take a look. And then began counting how many large trees down the hill from the Tillman Chapel…DSC_0823

I thought it was in front of Holtzendorff, but someone suggested that it was in front of Godfrey Hall. If it had fallen towards the buildings, I can’t imagine how much damage it would have caused. Or who might have been hurt. Thankfully, no one was hurt when it fell on the field, as it’s summer, and the field isn’t used as much.DSC_0824

Yes, that photo of the upstanding tree, with no leaves (taken in March), that’s the tree that fell. I don’t think the picture did it justice then, but it was BEYOND huge. And if you saw the bulldozer (or whatever it was) that was working around the trunk of the fallen tree, the root system of that Bur Oak was even bigger than the machine. The yellow caution tape was still marking the area where the tree fell into. It was more than halfway across the field.DSC_0326

My memories of this tree involve seeing students rig hammocks in the lower branches, because they were so long and low to the ground, and it was so nice and shady underneath the leaves. DSC_0825

If you go and look at the link above, you’ll find a lot of interesting things about that tree, just from reading through the comments. Someone suggested that the oak must have been planted a LONG time ago, because Bur Oaks are not native to this area. All these last few years of drought has been killing the root systems of so many large trees, and then all the rain loosens up the soil. They’re so top-heavy that down they come.DSC_0826

Another commenter said that he was 63 years old, and those trees were huge when he was at Clemson. By comparison, the oak trees below Fike were just saplings, then. Another person posted an aerial photo of that part of campus, taken in 1938. You could see the trees, and guess that they were lot smaller, but they were still large enough to be noticeable from that height and distance. I’m guessing it was planted in the early 1900’s, if not back when the college first opened its doors.DSC_0827

The missing Riggs tree is nowhere near as noticeable as this one. Its loss will be felt, by anyone that has memories of Clemson, and who has ever spent any amount of time on Bowman Field. In this particular case, it’s a shame that Goliath had to fall.DSC_0828

2 thoughts on “and then, goliath fell…

  1. At first I thought you may have been wrong about the age of these trees, but I went back and looked through the historical photos I’ve collected and found that all of them did show visible and fairly large trees in that location, so they are quite old. The reason I thought otherwise was that I’ve been surprised at how some of today’s huge trees are missing in older photos. All the big trees in front of Poole, for example, are nonexistent in a 1955 photo. On a related topic, although I don’t like to see these trees fall, what I really hate is seeing some of the beautiful big ones cut down by the university. 2 examples that come to mind are the big one in front of the NE corner of Sirrine and the multitrunked monster by the fountains near Martin and Daniel. The latter never failed to catch my attention when walking by there. A very unusual tree.

    • Definitely. I remember the trees you’re mentioning. I don’t know if those had become dangerous after the drought and that rainy summer. Clemson doesn’t make announcements when it removes trees. I was rather upset about the Sirrine tree, though. However, what really annoyed me is that, about two summers ago, they removed all the cherry trees by the pond and one by Fike. Spring will never be the same without the cherry blossoms reflected in the pond. :/

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