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The bald cypress tree, while not a true cypress, has played a part in North Carolina history for over 4,500 years. The tree grows in wet, swampy areas, often in standing water. At Phelps Lake in Washington County 30 dugout canoes made of bald cypress by Native Americans were found; the oldest canoe dates back to around 2430 B.C. The bald cypress was popular with colonists, who used it in ship building, fence making, and other types of construction. The greatest use of the tree was in making house shingles. At the start of the Civil War, a company, founded in the Dismal Swamp by George Washington, was shipping a million and a half shingles a year. Logging felled most of the state's old-growth bald cypress trees during the 19th- and early 20th-centuries, though some remain in out-of-the-way swamps. One tree in Three Sisters Swamp in Pender County is 1,600 years old, making it the oldest documented living thing in the eastern United States.
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