Nebraska's Heritage Trees

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Tree Name Tree location Significance
1875 Allison Council Tree Near Chadron, Nebraska The Council Tree is a cottonwood located 3.5 miles west of Chadron on Highway 20 on private property. In 1875 President Grant appointed the Allison Commission, chaired by Senator Allison of Iowa, to encourage all Sioux Indian chiefs and elders to attend a Council under the cottonwood tree on Chadron Creek for the purpose of relinquishing their rights to the Black Hills area. "Treaty Tree" has also been given as a name to this tree but, in fact, no treaty was ever agreed on. After several days of meetings between the commission and the Indians, the conference ended with all returning to their homes. This live cottonwood is 60 feet high with a circumference of 22 feet.
4 H Tree Atlanta In 1950, JoAnne Escritt planted this Jack pine in Atlanta's city park. Joanne received it for winning first place in the 4-H Tree & Shrub Identification Contest at that year's state fair. Her hometown's city park, which was originally started by the boys 4-H club of Atlanta, was the proper place for this tree. Nearly 60 years later, it has grown into a beautiful pine for all to enjoy.
Albion's Cottonwood Albion Large trees are not unusual in Nebraska. In the case of cottonwoods—when left undisturbed—they flourish and quickly become the tallest landmark around. Albion's cottonwood tree is a quintessential example! While its exact history isn't known, it has thrived in a tucked away lot near local businesses and the Union Pacific railroad. Nominated by tree enthusiast Rori Erickson, it is an often referenced landmark within the community. The tree was nominated and recognized in June of 2019.
Arbor Day Tree Central City This bur oak was given to the City of Central City in 1999 in honor of the 125th anniversary of Arbor Day. The tree was presented to the city by the Arbor Day Foundation at the annual Tree City USA ceremony in Lincoln. It was planted at Central City’s elementary school by that year’s fourth-grade class as part of the city’s Arbor Day celebration. It will be a continual reminder of the value of planting trees in our state.
Ash Hollow Ash Hollow State Park This green ash tree is more than 100 years old and is nearly 60 feet tall. It's growing out of the rock ledge or wall that is 1/4 mile north of the old rock schoolhouse located at the end of the road through the south end of Ash Hollow Historical Park. The pioneers on the Oregon Trail toiled down Windlass Hill to be met with cool, natural spring water and shade from the ash trees in Ash Hollow. This spot was also a popular campsite for the Plains Indians.
Bellwood Bur Oak Bellwood Jesse D. Bell's love of trees led to the planting of several thousand bur oak and other species that were shipped from Illinois to his Nebraska homestead. This remaining bur oak is one of the original trees planted in 1880. It's located on the original home site of Jesse D. Bell, Bellwood's founder, and is one of a line of oaks that leads from the farmhouse to the general store.
Buffalo Bill Cody Cottonwoods North Platte In 1886, Buffalo Bill Cody began to plan a "show place that would be the talk of the country." This ranch, located on the Platte River Valley, was a treeless region. In fact, the town of North Platte had few trees. So as soon as the frost went out of the ground, cottonwood trees were set out. By the fourth summer the rapid-growing cottonwoods were casting enough shade for picnics and other parties. The trees still grace Scouts Rest Ranch were the Wild West Shows were held. Buffalo Bill Cody was a Champion Buffalo Hunter, Chief of Scouts, American Scout and Showman, pony express rider and a member of the Nebraska National Guard, but most of all he had the foresight to plant trees.
Bur oaks at "The Leap" Fullerton A 40-acre forest of bur oaks is located on a bluff that drops 283 feet overlooking the Cedar River. This bluff of oaks is best known as "The Leap" that was prominent in Indian lore. Stories abound of Indians using skillful hunting techniques by driving herds of buffalo off this cliff. Most striking is the story of a Pawnee chief and his sweetheart who supposedly leaped to their deaths from the bluff. This forest was the location of the first formal July 4th celebration in the state of Nebraska in 1844. The forest also is famous for three decades of spirited summer Chautauqua shows that began in 1897. The majestic bur oaks covering these grounds are one of the largest stands of natural bur oak trees in the United States, dating back over 400 years.
Caroline Morton Oak Nebraska City This stately bur oak was planted by J. Sterling Morton after the death of his wife, Caroline, in 1881. It graces Nebraska City's Wyuka Cemetery and stands nearly 65 feet tall with a circumference of 16 feet. It serves as a remembrance of our state's great tree-planting family.
Clara Barton Memorial Tree Central City A stately hackberry tree stands on the south lawn of the Merrick County County Courthouse. This tree was planted on April 12, 1923, the anniversary of the death of Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross. The National Women's Relief Corp designated this day to be observed by the planting of trees across the United States in the memory of Barton. On April 24, 1928, a memorial plaque was placed next to the tree by the Relief Corps so all would know why this tree was planted.
Cottonwood Avenue Melbeta The cottonwood trees were hand-planted between 1887 and 1900 as part of a settling of the land by Neil Gatch's (tree nominator) father. The trees were dug and hauled up from the North Platte River and planted on each site of the road to make a canopy or almost a tunnel to drive under. This avenue is a tribute to our pioneer tree planters of Nebraska.
Cottonwoods at Big Springs Big Springs This cottonwood graces Big Springs’ main street near the Phelps Hotel. Mr. Phelps, a Union Pacific employee, built the hotel in 1885 so workers would have a place to stay while in Big Springs. Over the years many railroad engineers stayed overnight at the hotel while traveling through the area. In later years the hotel was both a cafe and bed-and-breakfast. It is listed on Nebraska’s National Register of Historic Places. Planted in 1887, this cottonwood has been a sentinel to the many changes of Big Springs.
Easter Egg Tree Unadilla This mulberry is a community landmark. For four generations it has been the site of Easter egg hunts in Unadilla. It also was part of the community's Nebraska Centennial Celebration. Numerous weddings and anniversary parties have been held under its canopy. This tree probably occurred naturally as part of a pasture that later became a city park.
Ernst Shelterbelt Columbus This shelterbelt was one of the first in the state. In 1920, Louis Ernst moved cedar trees found along the Platte River to the farm and planted them in double rows to help protect the sandy soil from erosion. A few years later the belts attracted the attention of soil conservation personnel. In 1945 the Ernst farm was selected as a tour stop in the Midwest for the Prince of Iraq, who was particularly interested in conservation. During the same year the shelterbelt was featured in Successful Farm magazine.
Farmers Valley Cemetary Trees Stockham The Grand Island Independent once wrote that, “The trees in Farmers Valley Cemetery near Stockham are so old and so tall they practically reach heaven.” This historic cemetery is the final resting place of many, including Civil War veterans; settlers, some infants and children, who died of diseases; settlers who died in battles with Native Americans; and a mother and son who died in the Easter blizzard of 1873. A prominent state senator, Perry Reed, also was laid to rest under the stately trees. His grave includes a bench made from pillars of the first State Capitol. It's thought that several of these trees were brought by wagon from Wyoming and planted in their current location in the 1880s.
Fort Kearny Cottonwoods Ft. Kearney State Historical Park Army engineer Lt. Daniel Woodbury selected the site for Fort Kearney in November 1847, and said the trees were one of the main reasons. "The trees are cottonwood, scrub elm, small willows, and a scattering of ash and a few cedars. The cottonwood is the only tree that grows in abundance." Large cottonwood trees delimit the perimeter of the parade ground itself. Many photos have been taken at different decades of the parade grounds with these stately cottonwoods.
Four Trees Cottonwood Oakland

The trees are legendary in the community and remembered in the stories of local Swedish storyteller Fergy Nelson. In the latter 1800s, Nelson said, the trees designated the spot where homesteaders would divide up supplies hauled over the high divide to Oakland from Fontanelle, about 30 miles away. The area has been known as “4 Trees” as long as residents can remember, with the Oakland city housing development across the street bearing the name “Four Trees Village.” The cottonwood trees are on the West end of the Four Trees Nature Forest located east of U.S. Highway 77, and south of East First Street and Aurora. An arched bridge leads across the stream to the cottonwoods. Jeff Troupe, native longtime business person & community volunteer for Oakland, nominated the group of trees.

Giesleman/Kuhlman Family Cottonwood Bloomfield This stately cottonwood was planted in 1900 by William Kuhlman because there were no trees on the entire farm. About 20 were planted that year but this one survived the harsh elements. The tree has stood watch for 106 years as children were born and raised and homestead changes have taken place. The family continued to plant shelterbelts through the years due to the foresight of William Kuhlman. It is a valuable tool in the family's history.
Grand Army of the Republic Tree Central City On April 24, 1928, the Women's Relief Corps planted an American Linden tree on the north lawn of the Merrick County Courthouse. They dedicated this tree to the Grand Army of the Republic (Civil War veterans). It was a "living monument of that brave band who so nobly fought that this nation might be preserved." A marker was placed close to the tree on April 13, 1950, to preserve its dedication.
Hi Tree Omaha Nebraska and Omaha are so friendly that even nature says "Hi" with these cottonwoods. They just happen to grow in the shape of the letters H and I. The cottonwoods are located in the Historic Florence area of Omaha which had its roots in the Winter Quarters settlement of 1846. The "Hi Tree" grows along the Back-to-the-River Hiking and Biking Trail and is a natural oddity that is known throughout the Midwest.
James Hunt American Chestnut Syracuse James K. Hunt was an early settler in Otoe County in 1872. This American chestnut was a sapling that he carried on the train from New Milford, Connecticut. The tree was planted on the homestead where he and his wife lived in a dugout. They had three daughters and one son who died on the day of his birth. The son was buried somewhere near the chestnut tree. The farm was sold in 1956 to the Bandt family that now cares for this special tree.
John G. Neihardt Crabapple Bancroft This crabapple tree is located in the center of the re-created Sacred Hoop Garden near the free-standing one-room study where John Neihardt wrote many of his earlier works and began his great epic poem, "A Cycle of the West." The garden recreates the image of the Sacred Hoop as related in Neihardt's most well-known work, "Black Elk Speaks," a book included on the list of the top 100 most influential works of the 20th century. Neihardt is the first Poet Laureate ever named by a state legislature.
Johnny Carson Tree Norfolk This large 80-year-old silver maple stands in the front yard of Johnny Carson’s boyhood home. Johnny undoubtedly walked in this tree’s shade each time he left the house via the front door. Johnny’s family moved to Norfolk when he was 8 years old, and he graduated from high school there in 1943. He always referred to Norfolk as his hometown.
Lange Settler's Tree Near Decatur This eastern cottonwood is one of the last survivors of a series of transplants by F.E. Lange in the 1860s. Lange and his party were some of the first settlers to Burt County, Nebraska. The tree is estimated to be over 160 years old and stands as a testament to the value trees had for the area's earliest settlers. You can read more about this tree's history here.
Lone tree Central City "Lone Tree", a giant, solitary cottonwood, was a noted Platte River landmark as early as 1833. Standing on the north side of the Platte River, the tree was visible at great distances. It was especially prominent since timber was rare on the Nebraska prairies except in stream valleys, where it received protection from prairie fires. The Mormon Trail passed by Lone Tree as did the Omaha-Fort Kearney stage route. The tree also gave its name to a stage station and a town, later renamed Central City. Passing travelers often camped beneath Lone Tree and carved their initials on its trunk. This probably hastened its end, for the tree was dead by 1863. A severe storm in 1865 brought it to the earth. In 1911 residents of Merrick County erected a stone in the shape of a tree trunk and planted another cottonwood tree on the site once occupied by Lone Tree.
Marker tree Near Wausa

According to Don Wells, who aims to locate trail trees across the US, this "marker" tree was a special purpose tree for native Americans who inhabited the area. "Historically, living in complete harmony with nature was a way of life for the American Indian. They relied on Nature for all their needs. Many years ago, traveling from place to place required good navigational skills, directions along the way, and a method to mark common trails.  American Indians used trees to not only mark a trail but also to signal the presence of important features, some of which were critical for survival. Today, some call these old road signs Indian marker trees.  They are known by others as trail treesthong trees, or culturally modified trees." -Steve Houser,  Texas Historic Tree Coalition

Merdian Highway Redcedars Pierce The Meridian Highway Redcedars stand along the Meridian Highway, the first north-south automobile route between Canada and Mexico. The four-mile-long stretch where the trees stand is thought to be the best preserved portion of the highway. The highway ran adjacent to the farm Caspar and Johanna Hoffmann homesteaded in 1871. The Hoffmanns planted the trees about the time of the highway’s opening in 1911. The farm has been in the Hoffmann family for five generations.
Morton Oak Nebraska City The Morton Oak has graced grounds south of Arbor Day Farm Apple House for more than 200 years. Bur oaks, with their thick bark, were more resistant to prairie fire and as a result scattered pockets of bur oak managed to survive. These areas are referred to as "oak savannas." The Morton Oak was probably part of an old oak savanna ecosystem. On Arbor Day 2001, it was designated as Nebraska's Millennium Landmark Tree.
Narrows Bur Oak Oak This bur oak saw significant activity from its location along the Oregon Trail, as well as countless changes of lifestyles. The Narrows Bur Oak is located 150 feet from the site where four settlers were captured near the Narrows of the Oregon Trail in 1864. Because traditional Native American hunting grounds were possessed by settlers and soldiers, the Cheyenne, Sioux and Arapahoe tribes carried out attacks along the Oregon Trail. In one attack, Mrs. Eubanks, two of her children and Laura Roper, a visiting neighbor, were captured. After council with tribal representatives, Laura and one child were released at Fort Lyons, Colorado. In 1919, Laura Roper Vance returned to the Narrows to verify the place of her capture. This bur oak has seen not only this event, but the movement of Native Americans and settlers along the Oregon Trail and an enormous change in how people live along the Platte.
Oak Canyon Trenton The native oaks in Oak Canyon date back 200 to 300 years. In fact, some artifacts located at the site have been dated 5,000 years. A stone plaque marks the canyon that also saw significant Native American activity during pioneer times.
Old Wolf Oak Ponca State Park This bur oak is one of the featured attractions at Ponca State Park. It was core dated to be a seedling in 1644, which makes it 132 years older than the United States. The general appearance of this "old wolf" oak tells the whole story. To think about what this tree has seen is pretty incredible!
Ponderosa Pines at Fort Hartsuff Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park Two large Ponderosa pines planted by soldiers at Fort Hartsuff in the 1870s have been recognized by the Nebraska Heritage Tree program. Trees were scarce on the plains due to frequent prairie fires. Some canyons were rarely damaged by fires, however, including Jones Canyon near Burwell. It was abundant with trees that the army harvested and used for framing and shingles to construct the fort. Soldiers also dug up saplings and brought them back to the fort for planting. The Ponderosa pines in front of the Officer's Quarters were among the trees successfully moved from Jones Canyon. The pine trees survived a period of about 80 years in which Fort Hartsuff received little or no maintenance, but in 1961 the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission took it over. The trees once again welcome people to what is now Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park.
Prairie States Shelterbelt McCook On April 5, 1935, the first shelterbelt of the Prairie States Forestry Program was planted on the Bishop farm. By April 12, 1935, five shelterbelts, which included 28,000 trees, were completed in Red Willow County. The McCook site was chosen by the President as a favor to Senator Norris. These shelterbelts marked the beginning of efforts to combat drought and wind erosion in Nebraska during the “Dirty '30s.”
Rennecker Oak Beaver City Herman Rennecker's wife, Caroline, was not pleased when they moved from Illinois to the treeless plains of Nebraska in 1895. Herman compromised by allowing Caroline to bring 10 oak saplings that she planted on each parcel of land Herman purchased. After 112 years, only one oak remains, a knarled sentinel standing firm. No Rennecker’s live on this land now, but the oak remains proof of their presence in this county.
Saw Blade Pin Oak Omaha This unique tree is a large pin oak with three saw blades through the trunk. This property was owned by Mr. Erdman who was an arborist and nurseryman in 1928. The tree is in part of the original nursery that is now a landscape steward site for the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum. It has been well known for its uniqueness in the Omaha area.
The G Trees Hayes Center The Gohl family has farmed in the Hayes Center area for more than 100 years. In 1983, the family decided to plant 2,366 trees in a triangle with a 'G' in the middle. Through the years the family has taken the time to maintain and care for the trees. The resulting 'G' has become a significant landmark for the airlines and military when they're flying over the Hayes Center area.
The Hempstead Mansion Red Maple Pawnee City This stately red maple tree has lower branches that sweep to the ground and back up again. It was brought from West Virginia by Mrs. Neill, a Pawnee City citizen in about 1920. In 1925, the red maple was moved to its present location near the Queen Anne-style Hemptstead Mansion. The mansion, built in 1883, is on the National Record of Historical Places. Hempstead was the founder of Pawnee Electric Company and the owner of Nebraska State Bank.
The landmark hackberry Ashfall Fossil Beds This hackberry was present in a 1916 photo and is probably an offspring of the native hackberry trees from the area. Hackberry seeds have been recovered from the Miocene Age fossil beds, making this tree's ancestors 12 million years old. The tree is located north of the Ashfall Visitor Center and is a true example of an enduring species.
Wausa Cottonwood This cottonwood was probably planted in the late 1800s. It's more than six feet in diameter and has been the backdrop for family pictures and gatherings. The property where it stands has been in the same family for nearly 100 years. It is thought to be the oldest living tree in Wausa.