If These Trees Could Talk: Studying the Comanche Marker Trees of Texas
Published November 1, 2017 By LAURA SAMUEL MEYN
No historical marker indicates that this particular pecan tree near the grounds of the Texas National Guard Armory in northwest Dallas is special—just the fact that its trunk grows along the ground for about 25 feet before turning upward. Sometimes natural forces, such as ice storms, can bend trees into strange shapes like this. But for this pecan, its shape is no accident.
Steve Houser, a local arborist and founding member of the Texas Historic Tree Coalition, traces his fingers over scars on the tree’s trunk, signs indicating humans may have lashed down the trunk with yucca rope some 150 years ago, when it was a flexible sapling. The bent tree, known as the California Crossing marker tree, points to a low-water crossing on the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, offering valuable information to those who would have recognized it as a marker tree.
“The typical settler would go right by,” says Houser, chairman of the coalition’s Indian Marker Tree Committee. “A Comanche would see it and follow it. Trees told them where to go to.”
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