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Austin, Texas: Treaty Oak

Last surviving Council Oak tree at a meeting ground for the Comanche and Tonkawa, where they would decide on peace or war. A historical marker tell the tale. In 1989, a nut job poisoned the beloved tree and killed most of it. But the Treaty Oak hangs on.

507 Baylor St, Austin, TX
Baylor between W 6th and W 5th St.
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Treaty Oak.

Treaty Oak

The Treaty Oak is the last surviving member of the Council Oaks. Since the 1880s, the tree had been privately owned by the Caldwell family. In 1937 the City of Austin purchased the land for $1,000 and installed a plaque honoring the tree's role in Texas history.

In 1989, in an act of deliberate vandalism, the tree was poisoned with the powerful hardwood herbicide. DuPont, the herbicide manufacturer, established a $10,000 reward to capture the poisoner. The vandal, Paul Cullen, was apprehended after reportedly bragging about poisoning the tree as a means of casting a spell. Cullen was convicted of felony criminal mischief and sentenced to serve nine years in prison.

Although arborists expected the tree to die, the Treaty Oak survived. However, almost two-thirds of the tree died and more than half of its crown had to be pruned.

Today the tree is a thriving, but as a lopsided reminder of its once-grand form. Many Texans see the Treaty Oak today as a symbol of strength and endurance.

[Christy LaSalle, 05/02/2017]

Treaty Oak.

Treaty Oak

This 500-year old tree is famous in Austin for being the last surviving tree out of 14 that were once the meeting ground for two Indian tribes. This oak tree represents the place where the tribes decided to go to war or make peace. There is a plaque in front that tells the story of this history-making tree.

[David, 03/20/2012]

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