Harrison County

Pass Christian oak will become part of historic Mayflower ship

Pass Christian resident Diane Brugger’s Live oak tree is chopped down Wednesday, March 22, 2017, and will be donated to form the ribs of the Mayflower II, a historically accurate reproduction of the original. The tree, which had survived 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, was recently struck by lightning.
Pass Christian resident Diane Brugger’s Live oak tree is chopped down Wednesday, March 22, 2017, and will be donated to form the ribs of the Mayflower II, a historically accurate reproduction of the original. The tree, which had survived 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, was recently struck by lightning. Special to the Sun Herald

Another Live oak from the Mississippi Coast is on its way to Connecticut, where it’ll become part of American history.

South Mississippi property owners have been donating Live oaks to the maritime museum in Mystic Seaport, Connecticut, ever since Hurricane Katrina felled so many trees in 2005. The wood is used to build and restore replica wooden tall ships because of its strength, resistance to rot and decay, and curved shape.

This time, a lightning-struck tree in Diane Brugger’s Pass Christian yard will be used to restore the Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction of the ship that brought the pilgrims to Plymouth in 1620.

The Brugger tree’s donation is just in time for the 400th anniversary observnace of pilgrims arriving on the original Mayflower in 2019. The tree will be used for the ribs of the Mayflower II, which will remain docked for the next two years until the restoration is complete. Plimouth Plantation, a living-history museum of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, and Mystic Seaport, The Museum of America and the Sea, have been collecting Live oaks for the project.

Over the years, weather has been rough on Brugger’s property, which at one point was home to Harbor Oaks Bed and Breakfast. Brugger’s daughter, Kathy Volkman, said her mother and father, Anthony Brugger, bought and restored the property in 1991. However, Katrina’s storm surge ultimately destroyed the inn. Of the 12 Live oaks that were on the property, only the youngest remains.

“That tree has been a part of my life and a part of our landscape since 1991,” Brugger said. She she the experience of watching the crew take down the tree was bittersweet.

Becoming a bit emotional, she said she was sad to see the tree go, but excited about the idea of it becoming part of history.

“It’s going to continue to live on instead of rotting away in the landfill,” she said.

Brugger one of two Gulf Coast property owners so far who have donated oaks to the Mayflower II. The second property is in Belle Chasse, Louisiana.

Mystic Seaport Shipyard Director Quentin Snediker, who is on the Coast this month to collect the trees, said the museum is always looking for donations of Live oaks. Those interested can email him at quentin.snediker@mysticseaport.org.

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