|Click on the picture below to see a video of the Tree Tour
Earlier known as the New Garden Woods, the approximately 200 acres are part of Guilford College’s campus and felt as a sacred place. Located within the historically Quaker New Garden/Guilford College community, these woods remain a relatively stable landscape with old growth forest and at least one champion tree standing as a silent witness. Abolitionist Levi Coffin grew up north of the site and references these woods between his home and his New Garden Quaker Meeting as a place of refuge. The case of John Dimery’s escape and quick movement to Indiana in 1819 is the earliest documented instance of Underground Railroad activity. Levi and Vestal Coffin were known leaders assisting runaways going to Indiana from 1819 to 1826. The legacy of justice continued with documented anti-slavery activists serving on the initial staff of New Garden Boarding School when it opened in 1837. A runaway notice in the January 4, 1842 Greensborough Patriot specifically references the New Garden community. Even if the school was not institutionally involved, the land served as a crossroad to freedom -- the Southern Terminus for those slipping away north to Indiana.
The historical significance of the woods as a place of refuge has been passed down through the years so they have been intentionally protected for the past twenty-five years. They are located near -- but not on -- several main local roadways of the early nineteenth century and, not inconsequentially, directly between New Garden Friends Meeting and the Coffin family farm along a southern branch of Horse Pen Creek. Portions of these woods remained unploughed and wooded throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century, so there was plenty of cover created by trees and the terrain in less developed areas.