Discover Austin: The Treaty Oak - Episode 65

This episode of Discover Austin is about Austin's most famous tree, the majestic Treaty Oak.  It's located downtown and it's quite possible you've been by it and not realized it was there.  If you'd rather read about the Treaty Oak, the video transcript can be found below.

Greetings, I’m Craig Smyser with 1835 Realty.  Sitting unassumingly in a city park is a tree rich in Texas history.  We’re going to take a look at the Treaty Oak on this episode of Discover Austin.

Located on Baylor Avenue between 5th and 6th Streets, the Treaty Oak is Austin’s most famous tree.  This majestic specimen is a live oak and believed to be over 500 years old.  It’s the last surviving live oak of the Council Oaks which was cluster of 14 trees that legend says was a meeting place for the Comanche and Tonkawa Indians to negotiate peace terms. 

Though there is no documented evidence, Texas lore claims that Stephen F. Austin signed the first boundary treaty between the Indians and the settlers under the Council Oaks, hence the Treaty Oak name.  Sam Houston is also supposed to have come here to ponder his future after he was removed as Texas governor in 1860. 

As Austin grew, the Council Oaks were cut down until only the Treaty Oak remained.  In 1927, it was admitted to the American Forestry Association Hall of Fame and also declared to be North America’s Most Perfect Tree.  The land on which the Treaty Oak is located was owned by the Caldwell Family who put the land up for sale in the 1920s.  Many Texans were concerned the tree would be cut down by a new owner so both state and local leaders were urged to buy the land.  In 1937, the city of Austin did just that and preserved the land as a city park. 

The Treaty Oak stood safely as a beloved symbol until 1989 when a man named Paul Cullen intentionally poisoned the tree.  A group of arborists known as the Treaty Oak Task Force was assembled to save it.  Texas businessman and philanthropist Ross Perot pledged to cover whatever cost was necessary to save the tree.  Though over 2/3 of the tree was lost, the Treaty Oak survived and has recovered well in the decades since.  The vandal was sentenced to nine years in prison.

The Treaty Oak is still an incredible tree so come pay it a visit and reminisce about a simpler time in the Texas Capital.  I’m Craig Smyser with 1835 Realty, thanks for joining me for this episode of Discover Austin.  And remember, when you’re ready to buy or sell real estate in Central Texas, I’m ready to help.

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