I've walked by this tree over a hundred times; it's close to home on my return trips about the lake.
American Forest Trees:
"The superiority of American buggies, sulkies, and other light vehicles is due to the hickory in their construction. No other wood equals this in combination of desirable physical properties. Though heavy, it is so strong, tough, and resilient that small amounts suffice, and the weight of the vehicle can be reduced to a lower point, without sacrificing efficiency, than when any other wood is employed. It is preeminently a wood for light vehicles. Oak, ash, maple, and elm answer well enough for heavy wagons where strength is more essential than toughness and elasticity. Hickory is suitable for practically all wooden parts of light vehicles except the body. The slender spokes look like frail dowels, and seem unable to maintain the load, but appearances are deceptive. The bent rims are likewise very slender, but they last better than steel. The shafts and poles with which carriages and carts are equipped will stand severe strains and twists without starting a splinter. The manufacturing of the stock is little less than a fine art. In scarcely any other wood-using industry—probably excepting the making of handles—is the grain so closely watched. Hickory users generally speak of the annual growth rings as the grain. The grain must run straight in spokes, rims, shafts, and poles. If the grain crosses the stick, a break may occur by the simple process of splitting, and the hickory in that case is no more dependable than many other woods."
American Forest Trees. Chicago, 1913. 368. Web. Google Book Search. 20 Sep 2009.