First of all, even though small, this little fella is pretty old. Chances are, it's at least 500 years old, maybe 1000, maybe more. Limber pine's live up to 2000 years. It was clearly an impressive sight when the first railroad came through 150 years ago. Since then it has seen a lot of east - west traffic. Before then, there was a lot of north - south traffic.
Consider the north - south traffic. This tree is in the ancestral homeland of the Arapaho nation, and is a recognizable landmark at a very interesting spot. The tree is on the north edge of a plateau that is covered in grassland ... wide open prairie. To the south, west, and east, is grass. Immediately to the north, though, the land slopes downward and opens into an area of amazing and massive rocky outcrops and pine forests, called Vedauwoo (vee-da-voo). Vedauwoo is the Arapaho "Land of the Earth Born Spirits." It was a spiritual place for them.
Imagine, decade after decade, they would have come from camps in northern Colorado to visit this place. The first sign that they've arrived is this little tree growing out of a rock, marking the southern edge of Vedauwoo.
They walk a little straighter and their pace picks up. Then, as now, people would be drawn to this tree ... come close, take a look, and appreciate the strength to slowly and patiently split the rock. Now they're ready to visit the Earth Born Spirits.
Here's the hidden gem entry from our Clue Me! map.
Rocky existence for a limber pine
The tree in the rock
Why It's Interesting
This limber pine (latin name is Pinus flexilis) was here in 1868, and the Union Pacific laid their tracks a few yards south just so passengers could see this brave little tree on its rocky perch. Limber pines live a long time, 1500 years being pretty old, but possible. So although small, this could have been a shady stop for hundreds of years, perhaps enjoyed by Native Americans visiting nearby Vedauwoo.
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