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Don’t Pave On Me

Tree in Road, Brayton, Iowa.Roads rule in America. The idea that something as easily bulldozed as a tree could force a detour seems preposterous. Yet it has happened, and the stubborn stay-putters have become pilgrimage destinations for the rest of us. We draw strength from their tenacity; perhaps we, too, will not be asphalted over — either metaphorically in life or literally in death (as some “I’m-not-budging” graves demonstrate).

A surprising variety of objects have bested the paving machines. Here are a few of our favorites:


In a field-first, often shadeless state like Iowa, this huge cottonwood stands in the middle of an intersection, unmolested.


Too big to move (apparently it’s the tip of a giant boulder), so the town just paved a street around it.

Tree in Rock, Buford, Wyoming.

Tree in Rock

America’s most famous detour. Tree in the Rock not only splits a major interstate, it jogged the railroad tracks that were there earlier.


Nancy Barnett’s final resting place was protected from the road crew by a grandson with a shotgun.

Oil Well

An oil well has been pumping in the middle of Main Street for nearly a hundred years, and its town is proud of it.

Oil well in road.


When a celebrity spacecraft crashes into one of your avenues, you’d be foolish not to mark the spot. This historical footnote has survived countless repavings.


As far as we know, this is the only execution spot in America deemed important enough to reroute a street. And the dead guy wasn’t even American.

And one that didn’t last:

Booze-Hating Churchman

An in-asphalt plaque marked the spot where minister George Haddock was gunned down during a prohibition battle. It was eventually dug up in 2013, but the churchman had defied the asphalt gods for 77 years.

Booze hating Churchman plaque..

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