The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips: Half-Way Oak, Breckenridge

Citizen uprising turns 200-year-old historic oak into a folk hero

By Gerald E. McLeod, July 1, 2016, Columns

Half-Way Oak, near the midpoint on U.S. 183 between Breck­enridge and Cisco, can easily pass unnoticed among the other trees that line this stretch of the two-lane North Texas highway.

The 200-year-old oak wasn't always so ignored by travelers.

The legend that Doc Holliday and/or Wyatt Earp might have found shelter under the tree's massive limbs is not impossible, since both spent time gambling at nearby Fort Griffin. What is most remarkable about the tree is that it has been on a major thoroughfare for centuries, whether the voyagers were on foot, horseback, or automobile. At some point the state highway department added two concrete picnic tables and called the tree a picnic area.

In the Seventies the highway department ignited an uprising of citizens when they considered removing the tree to widen the road. The tree stayed to become a folk hero and the road went around it. In 2011 – after surviving droughts, ice storms, poisoning, and car crashes – Half-Way Oak was added to the list of Famous Trees of Texas.

Here's an idea: Drive in to Breckenridge and go to Ray's Grocery and Market, 1117 W. Walker St., for picnic supplies. The butcher counter in the back of the grocery makes a tasty smoked brisket and barbecued chopped beef. Then drive about 13 miles south of Breckenridge to have a picnic at the junction of U.S. 183 and CR 160 where Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and centuries of other travelers might have stopped at Half-Way Oak.

1,301st in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 40312, South Austin, TX 78704.

Follow "Day Trips & Beyond," a weekly travel blog, at

Copyright © 2023 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.