Irene claims tree that’s entertained generations

Published 10:33 am Friday, September 2, 2011

ZUNI—Hurricane Irene blew away a Southampton County landmark.

This Southampton County landmark met its fate during Hurricane Irene on Saturday. -- SUBMITTED

A 100-year-old conspicuously shaped tree on David Edwards’ Unity-area farm fell victim to Saturday’s tropical winds.

A backdrop for many a photograph by locals and visitors from as far as Australia, the fallen tree was memorialized Sunday by nearby resident Jason Brinkley. With flowers and a decorative Halloween tombstone he found in his parents’ attic, Brinkley and a few others gave the tree their last respects.

“It was kind of a pick-me-up for the day,” the 30-year-old said. “My whole family lives on Tucker Swamp Road off Doles. I happened to ride by on Doles Road and realized the tree had blown over. I was kind of shocked and I turned around.”

When he got closer, Brinkley noticed that someone cut off “the special part of the tree.”

Edwards said he learned about the tree’s fate from a neighbor.

“I can’t tell you how many people had their pictures taken there over the years,” the 49-year-old Sedley man said. “Why that’s where (a lot of people) take their midnight rides.”

He assumes the tree fell sometime Saturday night.

“It’s kind of sad,” Edwards said. “It’s funny, you gotta have a little laugh in life.”

His daughter, Jenna Edwards of Virginia Beach, called the tree a source of entertainment that made for some very interesting photographs for generations.

“I’ve seen a lot of feedback and posts about the tree on Facebook,” the 25-year-old insurance agent said. “When my dad logged the property, it was marked off as the only tree not to be cut down.”

“It was a Saturday night thing to ride out there and take pictures,” she continued. “The tree is now resting in peace.”