Episode 10: O Cottonwood (ft Deb Williams)

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Emily stands beside a tall Cottonwood
Emily and Nicole visited the Lucky Cottonwood. (Honk at the Lucky Tree.)

Deb Williams loves the Cottonwood tree, and so did Native Americans and early settlers on the plains. With the whisper of their glittering leaves, their stately crowns, and their long history watching over the landscape, there's a lot to love. So honk at the old Cottonwood for luck, and listen for its reply.

Deb's husband poses with a Black Dragon Cottonwood
Deb's husband poses with a Black Dragon Cottonwood

Cottonwood Snowstorm - fluffy seeds rain down from the Cottonwood tree

The lucky tree has its own facebook group of dedicated enthusiasts.

The Topeka Cottonwood Tree

The Topeka tornado of 1966 caused further damage to the old tree. In 1983 Jack Brier, then secretary of state, made every effort to "save the cottonwood" from disease and damage. Large limbs on the 90-foot cottonwood were supported by wires attached to the 15-foot circumference of the trunk. In spite of Brier's efforts, the tree finally succumbed to more winds and had to be removed.

The old tree was revered for many years. U.S. presidents are said to have spoken from beneath its wide branches. There was concern for its survival when wind damaged the tree, but time could not be beaten. Age, illness and wind finally felled the cottonwood in 1984. Cuttings were taken from it and today a descendant of the original tree sits at the location of its ancestor.

- Kansas Historical Society

The Cottonwood's soft wood makes it excellent for carving.