Part 3: The World’s Largest Tree-house
On Thursday after the beach morning/lunch, we drove north from Florida up to Chattanooga, TN. Along the way we made a stop at a northern suburb of Birmingham, at a splendid place: Big Springs Park. Friendly folks abounded, and I met the youth pastor of Crosspoint Church, then played soccer-pinball with my kids between the raised perimeters of the playgrounds.
And then—Friday. The big day. We veered a total of 346 miles east of Interstate 65 so that I could finally explore something I’ve wanted for the past three years. Eight trees, and 10,000 square feet of climbing space, the grand-daddy tree house of ‘em all!
The Minister’s Tree-house in Crossville, Tennessee.
The heavens shone favorably on us and the rain held off for the morning while we explored the 97-foot structure. First, we had to finagle our way through a hole in the tightly barricaded fence that was smaller than the opening to my fireplace. Why? Apparently the fire marshal deemed the structure a fire-hazard, and ordered it closed. Only several years before, the place had tours and numerous visitors.
So, my kind wife stayed back with one of the boys, while I took the other three on a self-guided tour of arguably the world’s largest tree-house. We took the spiral staircase up two stories and a couple of carved wooden statues welcomed us to the cathedral space, where two of my kids reclined in a swinging love-seat.
The spacious room had pews, balcony seating, and a basketball hoop, lit up from a skylight high above. Later we found that most of the balconies overlooking the assembly space had rails, but a couple allowed unobstructed views, which reminded me of the book of Acts and a man named Eutychus, whom I could easily see falling off this 3-story structure, too (I was already on high Dad-alert mode due to broken glass from windows, so I had my two-year-old’s hand throughout).
Then my eldest found a way to climb above the pews on an archway above a hall, and we again ascended a spiral staircase. Before the top, we found an impressive room with what looked to be the twelve disciples listening to Jesus.
Then we climbed up some uneven stairs to the bell-tower. Over and over we just kept saying the word “Awesome…”
The bell-tower had a ladder in the middle above the open spiral stairs, rising ten more feet into the belfry, or crow’s nest, and I thought to myself, if this were twenty years ago and my Dad was taking me here, we would be climbing up that ladder right now. But, I’m a little bit more cautious, so we called the upper window of the bell-tower a fine achievement. And when I saw the loose boards of the crow’s nest from outside later, it reinforced my decision.
The final fun part of the treehouse? The massive swing!
Each of the kids enjoyed their relaxing pendulum ride, and on my turn, I had to marvel at how the builder, Horace Burgess, had (among other feats) rigged a fifty-foot swing to the tree house.
Definitely worth the 346 miles.