A tree that came down long before the ice storms sees new life. The centuries old Liberty Tree used to shade the banks of
This Valentine's Day marks the launch of the new Hilton Hotel on the Branson Landing. And while reservations include many couples looking for a romantic getaway, other visitors will show up simply for the love of a tree.
At the heart of a new Branson development, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of opening a new business, sits Ozarks history literally cut into pieces. But that doesn't mean it's broken.
"The legacy lives on because people will see this," says furniture maker Rick Braun.
He's talking about the Liberty Tree; a bur oak that once towered over the banks of
"Branson history is culture of the Ozarks and the area and a key feature was the Liberty Tree in this area," says hotel General Manager Mark Hartman.
It was so key that Hilton Hotels incorporated six tables crafted from the tree at the new Liberty Tavern restaurant.
"It probably means a lot more to me than a lot of people," admits Braun.
He's had his eye on the tree for almost ten years. However, he says it's the sweat and sawdust over the past two years of craftsmanship that mean the most to him.
He says, "This is the most historic tree we've worked with."
While Braun calls it beautiful, it's wood others wouldn't work with.
"This wasn't prime lumber because there were cracks and decay." says Braun.
But he cured that problem.
"We thought it would be appropriate to set gravel and acorns to make it feel more at home," Braun says of the design.
In the process, he found something special.
"This tree was double hearted," Braun explains. "At some time it was cut off at the ground, it healed itself and all the way through the trunk there was a layer of bark separating the two hearts."
He says that was enough to touch his spirit and hopes when others pull up a seat to make some history of their own, they'll feel the same thing.
"Hopefully people will get the vibes I get off an old tree like this." says Braun.
Braun and his son counted at least 209 rings on the tree, making it well over 200 years old. The pair also found things like bullets, rocks and even fencing in the tree.
Cross sections of the Liberty Tree can also be seen at the