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?
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.