Friday, November 28, 2008

Irvine Ranch Conservancy: The Hanging Tree

On the 11th of this month (Veteran's Day 2008), the Irvine Ranch Conservancy graciously showed me and some other lucky folks historic sites that are normally inaccessible to the public. Over the next week or so, I'll be sharing some of the sites we visited, starting with today's entry on the Hanging Tree in Precitas Canyon. I've already provided information about the Hanging Tree in earlier posts, which you can read here:

Today's first photo (above) shows me standing under the tree. Although fires have swept through the area in recent years, the tree is only a little scorched and seems pretty healthy. You might be able to see the tree from the right lane of the southbound 241 Toll Road, if you knew exactly where to look, and were on the passenger side of a high-profile vehicle. Our trip came about when author Chris Epting read my blog entries about the tree, and wanted to do a segment about it with Maria Hall-Brown for KOCE-TV. Mike Bornia of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy organized the trek and added some other sites of interest to the itinerary. When Epting asked if I wanted to come along, I immediately answered "Yes!," followed by, "and can I bring two other people?"
The other two were Orange County historians Jim Sleeper and Phil Brigandi who have both wanted to see this site again for many years. In the photo above, Jim stands under the tree and shows Phil and Mike Boeck photos of the area that he took in the 1960s.
Mike is a docent for the Conservancy and was one of our drivers for the day. He really knows the back country and was as enthusiastic as we were.
This last photo shows (left to right) Dave Raetz (also from the Conservancy), me, Jim and Phil, in front of the tree's historical marker. It reads, "Under this tree General Andres Pico hung two banditos of the Juan Flores gang in 1857." Below that, in smaller print, it reads, "Dedicated El Viaje de Portola Ride, April 1967." The annual El Viaje de Portola equestrian ride used to follow the trail of Gaspar de Portola's expedition through much of Orange County. Today, however, very little of that land is accessible to the public.
(To be continued...)

1 comment:

Surf City Tom said...

I grew up here thinking that the Hangman's Tree was the Sycamore that stands alongside Santiago Canyon Rd. We kids used to drive out there to scare ourselves, and I remember being shown a stone on the opposite side of the road that was purported to mark the grave of the hanged outlaws. It's paved over now, but the tree is still there, with the hangman's branch supported by a cement pillar.