48 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI FRIENDSHIP OAK The Friendship Oak tree is located in Long Beach, Mississippi, on the front lawn of the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast campus. Currently standing about fifty feet in height, the tree has overlooked the Gulf of Mexico for over 500 years. The diameter of the tree is five feet, nine inches, putting the circumference of the tree at nineteen feet, nine and a half inches. Many hurricanes have challenged the tree, including Hurricane Katrina, but the Friendship Oak continues to stand strong. According to legend, those who enter the shadows of the tree will remain friends for life. With the spread of foliage at 155 feet, the tree forms almost 16,000 feet of shelter, and the lateral roots spread out 150 feet. PHOTOS BY GREG CAMPBELL