|Tree Rock in 1979. Photo: Ray Jennings
Rita: I took
this picture of this tree in Wyoming this summer – near the top of the Continental Divide about 8000 feet
altitude. The tree is known as the “Union Pacific Pine” and has grown out of solid rock! It is over 100 years
old. In the early days of the railroad they say the engineers on the old trains would stop and water it! It has grown in an
impossible place! It had the will to survive and “hung in there.” With a little help it has made it. End of sermon.
Love, Dad 9/28/79
Lincoln Highway at the Tree in the Rock
In the spring of 1868 when the Union
Pacific was being constructed west of Cheyenne, the surveyors came across this struggling small tree growing out of a solid
boulder of 1.43 billion year old pink Sherman granite. The railroad was relocated so as to preserve the tree. Locomotive engineers
would stop to water the tree.
In 1902, the railroad was relocated
so as to avoid the steep grade at Sherman Hill and the necessity of double-heading the locomotives up the grade from Laramie. The
old rail grade continued to be used as a wagon road. With the opening of the Lincon Highway, the old
grade continued along the same location. Today, I-80 continues along the same route with the tree in a wayside park located
in the median.
The Tree Rock Today... Located at a left exit along Interstate 80/U.S.
30 near Milepost 333
(between the Buford interchange and the Vedauwoo Road/Ames Monument interchange) is the "Tree Rock." A limber pine tree grows
here from a crack in the large granite boulder. One of the legends of the railroad construction was that the railroad was
aligned specifically to pass by the Tree Rock, so that railroad engineers could throw buckets of water onto the tree to facilitate
its growth. The railroad passed Tree Rock between 1869 and 1901; it was realigned away from the tree. The age of the tree
and rock could date many years; the rock is from the Precambrian Era and might be over a billion years old. The limber pine
can be up to 2,000 years old, although this specimen is probably younger. Photo taken 09/06/05.
Just a few years short of 30 years later...
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: Rita writing a letter
I never gave this letter to you because you always "edit" my letter writing and I was afraid it would sound
silly. I found this on my computer and was going to post it on the website but it was rejected several times. Today is Father's
Day and I am missing you. I was in the midst of making some important decisions and I needed your advice last week. I decided
if I sent my original letter to you might give me a sign... what do ya think? Sorry I'm late, Well, I think you did anyway!
I have wanted to write you a letter for months now - then I put it off believing you are going to be just fine - truly
believing that you are not going to leave us. Not my Dad! I am certain that if there ever was to be a miracle it would be
you staying with us longer. I realize now that I have been selfish thinking about my pain of losing you and realized your
pain must be a hundred times more because you are losing all of us. There are things I need to make sure you know. I will
cherish you forever. I find it very hard not to come completely unglued at the very thought of losing you... you have been
there my whole life...you and mom are the one stable thing in my life, and now, you are "packing up" to leave for
good and you won't even have a phone. Now I know the meaning of "we sometimes take people we love for granted".
I don't know how much time we have left, God only knows, but I hope that we will have the time that we need. You have taught
me not to fear death, You have taught me to try and live life to its fullest while we are here on this earth. You are one
of the few honest men I've ever known (maybe thats why I am not married ha ha). You have so many friends, you have inspired
so many people... when I was younger, I thought you were too strict, too critical, too old fashioned... I was determined not
to act like a preachers daughter should (boy did that come back and bite me) by the age of 30 I realized what a gift you were
and didn't know how to tell you... at almost 55, I realize that your death will mean unbearable pain and loss - but in the
end all that matters is love. Love of family and friends. You have loved my mother and never left her side for 62 years. You
have also loved the rest of us unconditionally! Has it been hard? You should have been everyone's father in my book - I think
you are the most wonderful father and you have done everything for us and given us far more than we have deserved. You have
said you have not done enough for us... for once (the one and only first time) I can truly say you are wrong. You have done
far more than you can imagine or should have done. You have taught me that you are never too old to make a difference. I think
of you all day while I am working and knowing you are in pain, wondering what I can do - and hearing you say you are OK --
stay at work!
Thank you Dad for loving me just the way I am and for your patience.
With love, "Corky" (did you know that for the longest I thought you were calling me "Carkey"?)
Now about that sign? Did you give me a sign? I love you and I know you are watching over us. Oh, I know you probably know...
Mom is still beautiful as ever and Cayman started walking way before his 1st B-day and knows how to blow a kiss and point
his finger to show you what he wants! You should see him Dad. He is the happiest baby and full of laughs. I think he is going
to have a real sense of humor! He watches people like you did. He's already traveling like you loved to. He's been to Hawaii
and right now he's in Cancun... and now that I am 56 it only took one year to get this letter out......
|Yet another example of Ray's humor
During his ministry in Ottawa, Kansas, Ray had this sign installed to
reserve his parking place.