Arbor Day rolls, East Texans can take pride in a special collection
of unusually large and historic trees.
One of our most unusual trees, ironically, is one that isnšt a native
of Texas. The Hubbard Ginkgo in Tyler,
located on the lawn of City Hall, was brought to East
Texas from Japan by Ambassador Richard Hubbard, a Tyler
resident, and planted in 1889.
At Athens, the Pioneer
Oak -- a giant southern red oak -- has been estimated to be 320
years old. The oak is located a block east of Athens'
courthouse square on the north side of U.S. Highway 175.
East Texas, naturally,
has a few national champion trees, past and present.
Near Mineola are three
champs growing on the lands owned by one family -- Mark, Will and
Billie Godwin. A 110-foot black gum is a national and state
champion, a 66-foot tall Hercules Club tree is also a state
champ, and a 61-foot blackjack oak is a state champion, too.
One of the dethroned natonal champs in East
Texas is a black gum growing deep in the Sabine River bottomlands
on the bank of Eight Mile Creek near the Harrison-Panola county line.
The national champion honey locust is located on the Alabama-Coushatta
Indian reservation between Livingston
It stands 112 feet all, has a circumference of 81 inches, and a spread
of 43 feet. The locust is a good bee tree and has been used to make
railroad ties and fence posts. Its seed pods are enjoyed by cattle
The national eastern red cedar stands north of Pinehill
in Rusk County. It measures 196 inches in circumference. Red cedar
has been cultivated since 1664 and its aromatic wood is popular as
an insect repellent.
Guarding some of East Texas'
earliest man-made structures, the Caddo Indian mounds of Nacogdoches,
is the Indian Mound red oak. Youšll find it north of the downtown
has another historic tree, the Old North Church oak, which
stands just north of the city. As early as 1832, settlers in the community
met and worshipped under the tree. In 1835, a ten-acre site around
the tree was set aside as a cemetery and churchyard. In 1838, only
two years after Texas won its independence from Mexico, the first
Baptist church in Texas was organized on the site.
Pine trees, of course, are the most recognizable trees in East
Texas. The national champion longleaf pine also stands
on the Alabama-Coushatta Reservation. It was crowned only because
the previous national champ, was downed by a hurricane. It once stood
in a small park beside Farm Road 2024 five miles west of Hemphill,
but the park is still a great place to see large longleafs.
Several other stands of large pines are worth seeing. The most accessible
are the old pines on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State
University in Nacogdoches
and the Longleaf Pine Park on Farm Road 62, just off US 287,
about a dozen miles east of Corrigan.
11-17, 2004 column
The column is provided as a service of the East Texas Historical Association.
Bob Bowman is a former president of the Association, a member of the
Texas Historical Commission, and the author of 30 books about East
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