BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – The Cainhoy Meeting Tree, a 300-year-old live oak standing at the corner of Clements Ferry Road and Cainhoy Road, is set to be chopped down Monday night to make room for a road-widening project.
Sammy Sanders owns the land upon which the tree sits. He says that his father specifically bought the plot with the tree in order to protect and preserve the oak. Sanders is carrying on that legacy.
After much back and forth with Berkeley County, who is overseeing the road-widening project, Sanders has taken to staking out in the tree day-in and day-out to raise awareness. He has also gained a following on his ‘Save the Meeting Tree’ Facebook Page.
He has additional support from the Coastal Conservation League, whose leaders say that the tree’s nickname comes from the landmark that it has always been for those traveling to Charleston:
“For as long as anyone can remember, it has served as a meeting place for folks traveling to Charleston from scattered historic settlement communities like Huger and Jack Primus. It’s suspected that the tree’s roots stretch all the way to antebellum days when enslaved people would secretly gather under the tree to visit loved ones they were forcibly separated from and exchange news.”Robby Maynor, Berkeley County Project Manager, Coastal Conservation League.
Advocates for the tree are not opposed to the widening project, but prefer an option that leaves the tree in tact, which they say is feasible.
Berkeley County leaders said that “two alternatives were studied that would have avoided the tree, but were eliminated due to adverse property impacts, additional costs, and increased jurisdictional wetland impacts.”
The report reasons that “selection of the preferred alternative requires the consideration of all impacts to the human and natural environment, and in this case, impacts to the tree were weighed against private property and jurisdictional wetland impacts to conclude that the least impactful reasonable alternative would require removal of the tree.”
Berkeley County requested the State Historic Preservation Office investigate the historic significance of the tree, and concluded “the tree did not play an important role within the community’s traditions or culture.” The following is an excerpt from the Finding of No Significant Impact:
In the days leading up to the scheduled Monday night demolition, protesters have rallied around the tree, hoping to sway the outcome.
While no specific time has been released, Sanders plans to remain in the tree all night Monday; if the tree goes down, he is going down with it.