Thursday, October 23, 2014

Historic Trees Stand as Witnesses to History

What better way is there to celebrate the Texas Forest Service’s 100-year anniversary than publishing a second edition of Famous Tress of Texas: Texas A&M Forest Service that recognizes 101 historic trees across the state of Texas?

Authored by Gretchen Riley and Peter D. Smith, Famous Trees of Texas is great for Texans of all ages. The trees Riley and Smith chose to highlight are not necessarily grandeur in their size, age, or rarity, but significant for the vivacious and rich stories associated with them.These trees were witnesses to and participants in some of the most notable events in Texas history.

Riley and Smith show how these tangible, living specimens are a bridge from the past to the present. While some have succumbed to age, natural disasters, or human development, you can also see how they foster camaraderie in a community, such as in the case of the Treaty Oak in Austin. After being poisoned in 1989, the catastrophe brought tree experts, the public, and members of the Texas government together to save the beloved oak.   

Chances are that most state residents live within an hour or two drive from at least one of these historic trees. Most of them are found in state parks or on other public lands for viewing. And while some of the trees discussed are no longer living, their sites and scenery are still worth visiting. Where these living icons once stood, commemorative plaques continue to memorialize their story and location.   

For a taste of what Famous Trees of Texas has to offer, read Suzanne Halko’s article “Tall Tales” in Texas Co-Op Power. Follow her journey as she visits locations, interviews residents, and learns about some of the lesser-known trees across the state.

Along with the new edition of Famous Trees of Texas, the Texas Forest Service also plans to observe its 100-year anniversary by planting 100 new trees across Texas. Perhaps these fledgling shoots will be the next living landmarks to nurture a new era of legendary tales and add to the already remarkable history of the state.   

--Gina Marie Wadas

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