Burges Oak

Historical Period: 20th Century (1900 & Later)
Historical Topic: Odds & Ends, Politics & Politicians
Species: Texas Live Oak (Quercus fusiformis)
County: El Paso
Public Access: Yes

When I am forever from this life
erect no marble shaft for me.
But plant, somewhere upon a dusty road
an acorn in my memory.

So reads the first stanza of a poem attributed to Richard F. Burges, WWI army officer, attorney, advocate, and state legislator from El Paso.

In 1915, Burges—tree advocate—brought a sapling live oak from California and planted it in his yard, against the common wisdom of the day that oak trees could not survive the harsh desert climate.

That same year, Burges—state legislator—introduced a bill in the Texas Legislature to create a new state agency to govern and nurture the forests of Texas. With the support of forestry advocates such as W. Goodrich Jones, the bill to create the Texas Forest Service was passed and signed into law.

With the same commitment he gave to all his causes, Mr. Burges nurtured his live oak to maturity. El Paso residents followed suit and soon trees were thriving throughout the city. Burges Oak remains a testament to the tenacity of live oaks and early residents of Texas.

In the front yard of the Burges House, home of the El Paso County Historical Society, 603 W. Yandell Dr., El Paso.