Chattanooga Trees: The Bonny Oaks Willow Oak
After the Civil War, it was reported that fewer than 60 trees were left in Chattanooga.
The Tennessee Landmark and Historic Tree Register is an ongoing program that accepts new nominations through June 1 of each year.
The only tree in Chattanooga on that list is the Bonny Oaks Willow Oak which sits on property owned by the Hamilton County Parks Department located at 6183 Adamson Circle.
"It’s seen a lot history, a lot of change,” says city forester, Greg Hyde. “It's also a very massive willow oak. Probably the largest willow oak in Hamilton County I would say. If there's a larger one, I haven't seen it."
The tree is estimated to be over 100 feet in height and more than 180 years in age.
In the Southeast, many big trees were lost during and immediately after the Civil War when centuries-old stands of trees were cut for fuel and to provide timber for fortifications, warehouses, and military bridges.
"The area in what is now downtown Chattanooga was pretty much denuded,” explains Hyde.
“There wasn't a whole lot in the area to provide shade or beauty or anything like that. It was pretty much all gone."
Chattanooga has come a long way since that time. The city is proudly recognized as part of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA.
"Along all of the city streets, the total population is somewhere around 200,000,” says Hyde. “So that occupies a large amount of our time, effort, energy and some of our money too to keep these healthy or replace the ones that have died."