The Hanging Tree, Tulsa, OK
On the site of Tulsa’s Oktoberfest headquarters at Three North Lawton Avenue is a more than 215 year old stately Burr oak tree. It’s known as the Hanging Tree. Those who violated Creek Indian law in the late 1800s became acquainted with the end of a hangman’s noose. Between 15 and 20 people are said to have been hanged from the eerie lower limb 12 feet above the ground.
Three cattle rustlers hanged together at once are the most notable of stories surrounding the hanging tree. It’s the most repeated tale about the tree and the land surrounding it until it’s development in the 1920s. The land and its accompanying tree were the object of much wheeling and dealing for several decades of Tulsa history. The tract was sold in 1989 under the fear that the tree would be removed to make room for the proposed site of a new criminal justice center. Tulsan’s sense of history won. A petition was formed and the tree still stands today.
French adds, “It is said that Burr oak trees do not get as large or live as long as the Hanging Tree. It is unknown how the tree has endured as it has, but there is reputedly a spring underneath that has helped in its growth. And legends say that on certain nights, the distinct squeaking sound of an old rope twisting in the breeze can be heard.”