How Big Tree Road got its name
Ever wonder how streets get their names? The next time you’re on Big Tree Road, pull into a convenient parking lot and turn off your car. Then (after looking both ways) step out onto the asphalt and back into time.
Big Tree Road began as a narrow rut of logs and oyster shells at the edge of the Halifax River. It meandered through matted salt marsh to higher ground, to a forest of oaks and palms crisscrossed with paths worn smooth by the passing of countless Indian moccasins. This was Indian council ground. Beneath one enormous oak’s mossy branches, watch fires were lit, battles were planned and lives were lost.
“Big Tree” was a giant live oak. Its trunk measured 35 feet around, and it stood 100 feet tall. Its branches, spreading out 157 feet, were so large that in the early 1900s, wooden platforms were built in them – platforms large enough to hold a dance floor and band for our early settlers’ parties!
But, I prefer the image of the American Indians seated reverently in Big Tree’s shady embrace. Cherie Gardener, editor of Reflections magazine, did, too. Read this next part out loud:
“So wends the Big Tree Road from river’s edge to pineland, from marshy bog to palmetto scrub. Along its way the old merges with the new. Motored wheels of highway traffic rumble thorough shades of ancient battleground, while homes of block and tile lift beneath thick branches of primeval woods.
History marches along that road; legend stalks its aged oaks. The Indian tribes, the council tree, the Spanish steel, the battle fires all drift from out the gray edges in filtering, flickering phantom.
They are born in the lore of brave saga forgotten; live brief in a pageant of great glory long dead. Then, failing at last like the fall of an arrow, they dim and pass on into century mold, to their place in the shrouded dusk of their era where they fade in the midst of shadows.” Cherie Gardner, Reflections, July 1979.