PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Wood from a storm-damaged live oak in Pass Christian will be used to rebuild a historic wooden ship. Large sections of the tree will help restore the Mayflower II, a reproduction of the ship the pilgrims sailed to America.
The live oak, on Scenic Drive in Pass Christian, has survived nearly 200 years. Unfortunately, a lightning strike a few months ago likely spelled its death sentence. Enter Mystic Seaport, which agreed to salvage large sections of this dying tree, to restore a wooden ship.
"Live oak was the best available ship timber in the new world in the age of wooden ships," said Quentin Snediker, with Mystic Seaport Museum.
"Live oak is very durable. Rot resistant. But is also comes in very gentle, sweeping curves and has a lot of crooks in it. And those crooks are perfect for ship's knees. And that's some of the most valuable material we see in this particular tree," he said.
Watching the live oak come down is emotional for Kathy Volkman. Her mother and father, Tony and Diane Brugger, rode out Hurricane Katrina, clinging to the branches of another tree in their yard. Her mom survived, but her father lost his life in the storm.
"One of two that are left after Hurricane Katrina. And we wanted it to go to something that actually means something, instead of going into a landfill. We want it to be a good legacy for my dad," said Volkman.
Quentin Snediker directs the tree cutters in salvaging the best sections of wood. Material from this live oak, along with a dozen more salvaged in Bell Chase, Louisiana, will live on in the Mayflower II restoration.
"To be able to repurpose them for America's historic ships, especially one as iconic as the Mayflower, is really not just materially rewarding for the project, but it gives us all a good sense of having the trees live on," he said.
"It's great to know that it's going into something that means a lot to the history of our country," said Volkman.
The Mayflower II is being worked on at the Mystic Seaport shipyard in Mystic, Connecticut. The ship is being restored for the 400th anniversary of the pilgrims' arrival, which will be in 2020.