One of the nation’s oldest trees will be getting a new fence around it in 2014 in an effort to turn back the clock nearly 80 years.
Rockport’s Big Tree, located inside Goose Island State Park on Aransas Bay, is estimated to be over 1,500 years old, some estimate 2,000. The coastal live oak has seen Texas evolve over the past 10 centuries, seen six flags fly over it, and weathered an untold number of hurricanes and droughts, not to mention the rise of Whataburger.
In January it will be getting a new cedar fence surrounding it, one that replicates a fence built around it during the Great Depression.
David England, park superintendent at Goose Island, says that the new fence will be a replica of the fence that the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed in the 1930s. CCC workers built all the earliest structures in the park. He says it was also one of the original CCC construction sites in all of Texas.
The tree was nursed extensively over past few years as drought ravaged Texas vegetation.
“It didn’t do real well. It’s still surviving, but it did take a hit,” says England. A tree care specialist helped it weather drought conditions by fertilizing it. Supplemental watering was done with the help of the Lamar, Fulton, and Rockport volunteer fire departments.
The Corpus Christi Caller Times reported in 2011 that it took 11,000 gallons of water from firehoses to simulate just half an inch of rainfall to nourish the tree.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has long wanted to re-create the old fence, which was replaced by a chain-link fence in the ’60s. The 80th anniversary of the CCC work at Goose Island spurred on the retro project. England says he doesn’t have any concrete evidence of when the old fence came down.
The fence has kept visitors from climbing up into the tree and taking photos, which was at one time a Texas tradition. Now in its somewhat fragile state, that could cause heavy damage to the oak.
“We’re hoping to start construction of the fence in January and for it to be ready by late February,” said England. The rail fence will be constructed out of cedar posts.
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