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Peace Tree at Lake Red Rock Uprooted by Rising Water Levels

Posted: Wednesday, July 4th, 2018 at 4:52 am
Author: KNIA/KRLS News - Andrew Swadner

The Peace Tree at Lake Red Rock, the trunk of which has been above the water level since the creation of the dam in 1969, was uprooted by the recent rise in water levels and towed to rest in front of the Red Rock Marina.

Property Manager of Red Rock Marina Dave Houliston tells KNIA/KRLS News the Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Red Rock noticed the tree was uprooted, and asked the Marina for help in moving it to a safe place. Houliston said that towing the tree took two boats at a slow speed, as what is seen above the water level is just a fraction of the tree because when they were towing it you would expect the tree to lean but it would not so whatever is below the waterline is massive and very heavy, and he doesn’t know what to expect once the water levels recede and the tree becomes visible.

The Peace Tree currently sits in what would normally be the marina parking lot, but with water levels so high it looks to be in the middle of the lake. Hear more about the Peace Tree on today’s Let’s Talk Knoxville. A full history of the Peace Tree as given by the Red Rock Marina is below.

500 years of the Peace Tree
In the Northwest quadrant of the lake stands a 500 year old sycamore tree… sort of. What remains of this historic tree is all but a stump now, but its history is rich and bountiful. It germinated from seed in the 1500s, but didn’t have any discernible history for 300 years. It became a landmark for settlers moving West, and a trading post for native Americans already there. The tree saw floods and droughts, peace and war, and eventually was caught on the wrong side of a dam and was killed when floods came. It’s been there for centuries, and while little of it remains above the waterline, it’s still a sight to see. Here is a quick history of the landmark Sycamore.
1500: Peace Tree seed germinates.
1842: Sac and Fox tribes cede land to U.S. government, establishing a line (the Red Rock Line) as a boundary, right near the big sycamore called Peace Tree.
1969: The Peace Tree is killed by the creation of Lake Red Rock reservoir by a dam on the Des Moines River for flood control.
1992: Lake level is raised eight feet to offset siltation, making it easier for boaters to visit the tree. The Office of State Archaeologist issues a report on the tree, detailing its rich history.
2006: Boaters fear the coming demise of the Peace Tree and decorate it with colorful tapestry and snap photographs.
2008 & 2010: Floods raise the water level of the lake, submerging the tree. It still stands when the water recedes.
2013: The winter takes another toll and at least three feet of the tree stump breaks off, leaving a mere three feet above water level.