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Plow in the Oak.

Plow in the Oak

Field review by the editors.

Exira, Iowa

Can nothing sate the appetite of America's hungry trees? This one, a burr oak, has swallowed a single-blade farm plow, although how it got here is the subject of some debate.

The popular legend is that a young farmer, Frank Leffingwell, was out plowing his field when a group of Union soldiers passed by. Overwhelmed by patriotism, Frank leaned his plow against a young oak tree and left to join the Civil War -- and never returned. Time and an unforgiving tree did the rest.

Detail of plow protruding from the tree.

The more prosaic story is that the plow was left against the tree by Leffingwell's hired hand, Christian Miller, and not because he was seized by patriotism, but because he couldn't get the plow to work. Miller did eventually join the military, but he also eventually came home, married, and raised a family. When US 71 was cut through the old Leffingwell farm, Miller was driving past one day, remembered the plow, and rediscovered the tree.

The hungry oak and its helpless meal are now protected within the five-acre Plow In The Oak Park. Helpful signs direct you to the famous tree, for which you should be thankful because otherwise you would never find it. Some say that it's the plow's blade, or hitch, or handle that's currently sticking out of either side the tree. All we know is that it isn't much.

More plow sticking from the oak tree.

Plow in the Oak

Plow-in-Oak Park

US Hwy 71, Exira, IA
I-80 exit 60, then north on US Hwy 71 for six miles to Plow-in-Oak Park, which is on the west side.
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