HISTORY OF THE "GREEN TREE"
The famous Green Tree was also known as “Green Tree Hotel". Those who worked the Mississippi River from New Orleans to St. Paul knew it as the "Green Tree Hotel." The giant elm had a height of more than 50 feet and a canopy 100 feet long. The big tree was a gathering place for river boat pilots and provided shade and refuge for men coming to Le Claire in search of jobs on the river boats.
During its 225 year lifetime, the tree survived shore erosion, construction of railroad tracks and storms. Among the countless children who played under its spreading branches was Le Claire native Col. William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, the famous frontiersman and showman.
In 1924, Le Claire resident Joe Barnes installed a granite marker near the tree as a means of commemorating the good times he and his childhood playmate, Buffalo Bill, had at the tree. The marker remains at the foot of Wisconsin Street, the site of the tree, along with a plaque identifying the site. The plaque was installed in 1966 by members of Boy Scout Troop 9 of Davenport's First Christian Church.
It was the largest Rock Elm on record. It was located at the start of the "Rock Island Rapids" at Le Claire, Iowa. In 1912 it was entered in the "Hall of Fame for Trees" (when it was approximately 175 years old) because of its unique role in local history. In 1964 it succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease. It was cut down on July 20, 1964. The Buffalo Bill Museum, 200 N. Le Claire Drive, Le Claire, Iowa, exhibit includes a cross section of this large elm, including its unusual hollow core. It can also be viewed at the Putnam Museum, 1717 W. 12th St., Davenport, Iowa.