Historic photograph of Burnside Bridge with the Sycamore in view. Park officials say that the tree undoubtedly was hit by gunfire as thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers fought for control of the bridge on Sept. 17, 1862. Today, over one hundred and forty years later, the tree still remains as a direct link to the past.
Park Rangers believe that the tree wasn’t planted, but naturally sprouted near the northwest corner of the bridge over 150 years ago during construction in 1836. There has been a growing concern in recent years that severe storms could bring the tree down and damage the bridge below.
Metal cables have been strung between the tree’s two main branches to reduce pressure on the limbs and help prevent the tree from splitting. Each cable can support 60,000 pounds, hopefully keeping this beautiful relic of history standing tall for many more years to come.
Standing Under the Antietam “Witness Tree” at Burnside’s Bridge
The Burnside Sycamore is a civil war monument unlike any other at Antietam because it survived the brutal battle of September 1862 and is still alive and standing. Today the mighty tree provides great refuge from the summer heat with a chilling effect like none other.
Discover more about this piece of history through nature with insight from the Antietam Park Rangers: