​Lonesome Historic Site


2006 TN-96  •  Burns, TN 37029  •  206-953-2766

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Science Station 9: Witness Trees

(Black Walnut and Eastern Red Cedar): As this land was divided up, surveyors documented the trees that were at the corners and angles of the parcels of land to mark their boundaries. These trees were called witness trees. This expression also is used today for trees that were present at key events in history. This Black Walnut and Cedar surely witnessed many events in the history of Lonesome; we will call them our witness trees.

Black walnut is considered to be the most valuable timber species in North America. To produce the best timber, it needs a moist, well-drained, deep, fertile soil such as is frequently found along creek and river bottoms. The trees grow slowly and 40 to 50 years may be needed before they reach good size for timber. The fruit of these trees (walnuts) would have been used by the pioneers as yet another source of food.