For anyone who loves old trees like I do, you might ask “Why is the Angel Oak Tree special? There are a number of reasons, the first being that it has stood for centuries and witnessed the birth of our country, wars, peace, and everything in between.
But there are other reasons as well. Once in danger of encroachment by development on Johns Island in South Carolina, the Angel Oak Tree has long been on my bucket list to see — and it did not disappoint.
Why Is The Angel Oak Tree Special?
The Angel Oak tree is simply an intricate and imposing work of art, formed by Mother Nature and the hand of God. Over the centuries, The Angel Oak has survived earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and human interference, so its strength and power are also palpable.
It is a living thing that can be touched and felt, giving visitors the opportunity to feel a connection with both Nature and History.
How Old Is The Angel Oak Tree?
Called the “oldest living thing” in our country, the Angel Oak is estimated at between 400 and 500 years old, but there are some who say it could be as much as 1500 years old! You can’t help but feel a sense of calm and peace beneath its huge canopy.
A South Carolina Treasure
The Southern live oak is 65 feet high with a circumference of 25.5 feet, shading an area of 17,000 square feet. The tree trunks themselves are so heavy and large that some of them drop to the ground, something that is only seen among the oldest live oaks.
Historical records trace the ownership of the tree and the land on which it stands to 1717 when it was given to Abraham Waight as part of a land grant. Mr. Waight, who was an extremely wealthy man, also owned several plantations. The land the tree stands on was used as part of a marriage settlement between Martha W.T. Angel and Justus Angel. Some say this is where the Angel Oak Tree got its name.
Local folklore tells stories of ghosts of former slaves appearing as angels around the tree, and of those spirits now protecting the tree. It is also said to have been a meeting place for Native Americans who lived on Johns Island.
Ancient and Majestic
Another Reason Why The Angel Oak Tree Is Special
Let’s look back through time. When the ancient oak was only a sapling, the world’s population was around 208 million, the English had just started exploring the world in ships, and the United States of America wasn’t even close to existing. World civilization has changed extensively since then, but the Angel Oak Tree remains standing.
Making the Angel Oak Tree even more special is the energy people feel when walking beneath its massive limbs. It is a mystical feeling, like being in the presence of an enlightened being, Some call it almost divine, a spiritual energy that is both strong and calming. This spot offers a wide variety of legends and stories, but long-time residents of Johns Island have a long history with the tree and remember many special events that took place beneath its protective limbs.
Saving The Angel Oak Tree
Despite having lived for centuries and surviving a number of natural disasters, the Angel Oak Tree’s biggest threat in recent times has been by development.
In 2012, developers proposed building a 500-unit apartment complex just 160 yards away from the Angel Oak. Luckily two groups stepped in to stop the proposal which would have encroached on the tree’s root system.
Visit The Oak Angel Tree
If you are ever in the Charleston, S.C. area, a visit to Angel Oak Tree is worth the trip. The Angel Oak Tree Park is owned by the City of Charleston, and includes walking trails, as well as historical, cultural, and environmental information.
Admission to the general public is free but donations are gladly accepted to help in the preservation of the tree for future generations to enjoy.
There is a gift shop on site that provides information and retail merchandise including Lowcountry specialty items, such as memorabilia and keepsakes.
Angel Oak Park is close to Charleston, Kiawah and Seabrook Islands, all of which are wonderful places to explore!
This special tree has been recognized as a 2000 Millennium Tree and as the 2004 South Carolina Heritage Tree.