Shawnee's "Twisted Tree"
Photo courtesy of Demco's
The trees arched over the sidewalk at the home of Dr. L. E. Wentworth,
502 N. Louisa. "In a whimisical moment" two Shawnee men (Frank Witherspoon
and Gule Rinneger) started this experiment in 1910 with two elm trees.
Witherspoon, builder of the house, and Rinnager, engineer for
Withersppon at his Shawnee Ice company, went down to the banks
of the North Canadian river and dug up two elm saplings. The
twigs were brought back to Shawnee in the one-horse hack the men
Witherspoon decided that he would form an arch of the two trees by typing them together.
Witnesses said that the planter was more than six feet tall, and that he tied them together
as high as he could reach. Ropes and burlap were used for binding.
Despite antics of neighborhood youngsters, who used to cut the binding, Witherspoon
won his fight against nature's normal, prosaic tendency to uprightness in trees.
The "love" trees grew more closely attached as years went by. In fact, so closely
that tree experts say that if the bark had been scraped they might have truly become one.
With the weight of the years and each other, the twosome grew bent. The southern
half of the pair grew heavy with age, became more crooked, and pulled its nothern
neighbor down to its own level.
After years of the weary struggle, fame came to the couple. August 7, 1930, their picture
appeared in the syndicated "Believe It or Not" column of Robert Rippley.
More recognition followed. Occumpants of cars from practically every state in the Union
notice the Witherspoon wonders as they pass on Highway 270, a few feet away. In a book, "Nature
Woodland Wonders," published by the Allis_chalmers company in 1945, the trees again appear
in a glossy photograph, to be gazed upon by tree fanciers throughout the nation.
School children from various sections of Oklahoma have made pilgrimages to the green shrine.
Shawnee's Chamber of Commerce printed pictures of the trees in its September, 1945, bulletin.
The Oklahoma state highway commission included them in its booklet, "New Thrills Ahead."
Not bad for a couple of saplings!
Article trasncribed from the SHAWNEE NEWS-STAR