Sunday, September 26, 2021

Old postcard: The Big Lynn Tree

This postcard has no date, and it was never written upon or sent. It's a Plastichrome card by Colourpicture Publishers of Boston, Massachusetts. And it was published by Hugh Morton of Linville, North Carolina.

According to, Grandfather Mountain owner Hugh Morton died at his home in Linville on June 1, 2006. "Morton built the Mile High Swinging Bridge and opened the Western North Carolina travel attraction in 1952 after inheriting the Mountain from his grandfather. A world-class photographer, he will also be remembered as a conservationist and civic leader," the website states.

It adds that Morton "was one of the few people who ever fought the Federal Government and won. When engineers wanted to build the Blue Ridge Parkway across Grandfather Mountain at 5,000 feet above sea level with a tunnel at the highest point, Morton forced a compromise that resulted in the building of the Linn Cove Viaduct."1

Getting back to the postcard (a photo presumably taken by Morton himself) and the tree, this is what the caption on the back of the card states:
LITTLE SWITZERLAND, NORTH CAROLINA. This huge Linden tree is 600 years old and is a historic landmark of the area.
The landmark is no more, and has been no more for decades, which makes me wonder what year this postcard was published. According to the 2000 Michael Joslin book Appalachian Bounty: Nature's Gifts from the Mountains, the Big Lynn Tree stood over 75 feet tall and had a circumference of 13 feet. It was cut down in 1965. An excerpt from Joslin's book states:
"Even when the trunk of the tree was a hollow shell, Big Lynn stood, battered by winds that tore huge branches from it. Blue Ridge Parkway officials attempted to cut the tree down in 1949 because of the danger it posed, but organized protests earned it a reprieve. In 1965, the owner of the Big Lynn Lodge felt so threatened by its weakened conditions that he asked Parkway officials to take it down. The Big Lynn was no more. However, twin shoots that were growing from its base were encouraged to grow. Today they stand tall and straight themselves, lusty scions of the historic tree."2
The obituary of Dale Beverly Sipes (1928-2011) provides a little more detail about the felling of the Big Lynn Tree. It states:
"While [working] at Spruce Pine [North Carolina], a tree on the parkway in Little Switzerland, known as 'The Big Lynn Tree,' was damaged by lightning. It was a hazard to the parkway, power lines and a motel. No one would take the risk of cutting the large tree but Dale, and he safely got the job done."
1. According to, the Linn Cove Viaduct "was completed in 1987. It was delayed for twenty years as environmentalists, adjacent landowners, engineers, and architects sought a design that would preserve and protect the fragile habitat of adjacent Grandfather Mountain. The Linn Cove Viaduct hugs the face of Grandfather Mountain and is recognized internationally as an engineering marvel."
2. Yes indeed, that's the first appearance of the phrase "lusty scions" on Papergreat.

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