Know The Sadly Funny Story Of The Texas Panhandle’s First Tree?
It's not hard to find a good story in the panhandle if you look hard enough. Do you know the sadly funny story of the Texas panhandle's first tree?
The First Tree Was Planted in the Texas Panhandle
One of the more popular jokes about the area is that all the trees you see were brought here. That's exactly what happened with the panhandle's "first" tree. The tree was brought here as a sapling by Thomas Cree after the Civil War while he was working for the Union Pacific rail.
The First Tree Was Part of a "Honey Do" List
According to the historical marker located at the site of the first tree, Thomas B. Cree traveled over 30 miles to get the sapling. Why make such a trip just to get a tree? His wife told him to.
Husbands everywhere can relate.
The marker states that he traveled "35 miles at his wife's request." Sounds like a honey do to me. I won't ever complain about taking out the trash again.
The Reason For Transplanting The First Tree...
...is actually very understandable. When Thomas Cree and his wife decided to settle on the high plains, there was no lumber. They had to build a dugout house.
In case you aren't familiar with what a dugout house is, you can compare it to a hobbit's house from those Lord Of The Rings movies. Except these usually aren't nearly as ornate or comfortable. They were temporary until a proper home could be built out of logs.
Which leads us back to the 35 mile journey to find something that would eventually produce logs.
The Tragic End of The First Tree
This is a bit bittersweet. Cree's little sapling never grew to be a massive tree. However, it survived blizzards, droughts, summer heat, and everything else the panhandle could throw at it.
That is, until the 1970s.
Good Intentions Could Be Blamed For Tree's Demise
According to legend there was a woman on the Texas panhandle who, one would assume, was attempting to care for the tree. After all, in the 1960s the Men's Garden Clubs of America made a special trip just pay homage to the panhandle's first tree and a historical marker was placed and dedicated to it.
It was an important tree.
The story goes that this well meaning woman sprayed weed killer on the site. Unfortunately, that would lead to the little sapling's demise.
Local legend even goes on to state that she was subsequently removed from the historical society. A bit heavy handed if you ask me. I seriously doubt she had some personal vendetta against the first tree in the Texas panhandle.
The Tree You See Now Isn't The Actual Tree
No, the tree you see now isn't the actual tree. Instead it is a "replacement" of sorts that was planted in 1990 by citizens of the county.
The historical marker doesn't state exactly how the tree died. That part is all local legend. It simply states that citizens planted a new tree there to honor the early pioneers of the area.
The Tree May Be Dead, But The Legend Lives On
As far as I am concerned, the most incredible part of this story is that it all started with a honey do task. Now, well over a century later here we all are thinking about that little sapling, Thomas Cree, and Thomas Cree's wife telling him to travel 35 miles to get a tree so they could move out of the dirt.