Centennial Witness Tree Project

Monday, November 20th 2006, 10:15 am
By: News On 6

There are dozens of Oklahoma Centennial activities on the schedule over the next year. One you may not have heard of the Centennial Witness Tree Project, designed to identify trees the witnessed statehood in 1907.

As News on 6 reporter Rick Wells explains, there is one nominated so far in the Tulsa area.

The American Elm out beyond Mary Ann Coston's back deck at Forest Ridge Golf Club in Broken Arrow is a very special tree. "We have 1,000 acres under development and we don't have anything like that." Doug Shrout with the Robson Companies that owns and operates Forest Ridge and surrounding developments has a US geological survey map from 1898 that shows an old wagon trail.

The tree they now call ‘Big Joe' is located along a creek bed and some artesian springs near a trail. "We kind of think that maybe some of the people got off the wagon trail, walked by down here to replenish canteens."

Mary Ann Colston bought her house 6 years ago. She said the tree was the selling point of the house. When she heard about the Witness Tree Project she nominated the tree.

Everyone believes it's old enough. Doug Shrout: "two independent arborists have said it's well over 100 years old." In fact, they estimate about 125 years old.

There are many other trees across the state that would classify. Some we already know about, like the Council Oak in Tulsa. Under its branches in 1837, Indians, from the Creek Nation, formed a government. Even older perhaps is a Paradise tree planted in 1802 by Pierre Cheautou. Even trees as famous as these have to be officially nominated to receive Centennial recognition.

Trees like ‘Big Joe’ avoiding blight, disease, and severe weather to witness history. "It's a survivor." It's definitely a survivor, and it’s in good shape. But surely it's not the only one.

The State Forestry Department will verify the age of nominated tree. For information about how to nominate a Centennial Witness Tree, CLICK HERE.