Black-Bowie Black Walnut Trees - Historic Washington State Park, Washington, AR
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member WayBetterFinder
N 33° 46.684 W 093° 40.765
15S E 437094 N 3737756
Quick Description: Wood from the stand of black walnut trees growing next to the old 1914 Schoolhouse found at the end of Conway Street in the Historic Washington State Park in Washington, Arkansas was used in crafting the original Bowie knife.
Location: Arkansas, United States
Date Posted: 5/31/2020 2:49:40 PM
Waymark Code: WM12HN7
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 0

Long Description:
Jim Bowie is the man who made the Bowie knife famous. Jim Bowie lived a colorful life, but not always peaceably. He gained a reputation (fame) as one who would get into disputes of honor which often ended in deadly combat with knife and gun. Jim Bowie's last fight was at the Alamo where he was fighting for Texas independence from Mexico in 1836.

Bowie knew a blacksmith named James Black who operated a blacksmith shop in the town of Washington, Arkansas. Some time well before 1836, and even longer before the 1914 schoolhouse was constructed next to some black walnut trees, James Black and Jim Bowie's older brother Rezin Bowie got together to create a stronger (thus deadlier) knife design so Jim Bowie would have more assurance his duals and fights would see him as the winner. The knives he previously used sometime broke during his fights. Since the infamous Sandbar Fight occurred in 1827 and is believed to be the motivation for the development of the Bowie knife.

So, even though Jim Bowie and his custom-built knife would make him world famous, it was James Black and Rezin Bowie who designed and crafted the now famous Bowie knife design. The blacksmith, James Black, used the locally available black walnut from the nearby trees as the material for the knife's handle. Over time, Jim Bowie and brother Rezin would redesign the shape of the knife blade, but blacksmith James Black would continue to craft each knife with the handles of each modified design from this supply of black walnut wood.

The 1914 schoolhouse has its own story and history, but it happened to be built next to the black walnut trees and close to the blacksmith shop of James Black. Today, all three: school, blacksmith shop and black walnut trees are now part of the Historic Washington State Park in Washington, Arkansas.

In years past, one of the black walnut trees within the stand of existing walnut trees had been designated as an Arkansas Champion Black Walnut. Comments in the literature published by the park mention that the black walnut tree is a champion, but at least by 2019, another black walnut tree in a different county hold the title of Champion. This does not diminish the size of these walnut trees in this park area. The one that was the biggest is still notably big. It just got beat by the discovery of another, larger tree. It is well worth the trip to see it and its companion black walnut trees.

On the particular black walnut tree that held the title of Champion in the past is mounted a large metal tag that declares that this and the companion walnut trees are declared and registered as official historic trees. There are other large, old black walnut trees around the former champion that should be included in the historic designation. The text of the tag reads as follows:

"This tree has been registered as an Arkansas Famous and Historic Tree
Black Walnut
Juglans nivea
Is recognized as an Arkansas Famous and Historic Tree for its association with a significant person in local, state or national history and as a state big tree champion.
'Black/Bowie Black Walnut'
AFHTP Registered Tree # 0009 November 19, 1997"

Link to the history of the Bowie Knife:
(visit link)
Website: [Web Link]

Historic Event:
Because of the history associated with the handles of the famous Bowie knife being incorporated into the original creation of the Bowie knife at James Black's blacksmith shop, of the reputation of Jim Bowie as a fighter and of him dying during the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, and as the fame and legend of the Bowie knife itself that justify the trees the designation of being historic.


Year: 1827

Species: Black Walnut (Juglans nivea)

Approximate Age: 200

Location: Historic Washington State Park, Washington, AR

Visit Instructions:
To log this waymark you must visit the site and post an original photo of the tree. Photos taken off the web, or from other sources are not acceptable.
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WayBetterFinder visited Black-Bowie Black Walnut Trees - Historic Washington State Park, Washington, AR 6/5/2020 WayBetterFinder visited it