Early Oregon Trail emigrants crested the south flank of Flagstaff Hill and, with the Blue Mountains looming to the west, saw a solitary tree in the valley below. Called l'arbre seul (the lone tree) by French-Canadian fur trappers, this large tree, possibly ponderosa pine or Douglas-fir, towered majestically above the floor of Baker Valley about three miles northwest of this marker.
For many years - perhaps centuries - the Lone Tree served as a landmark for Indians, trappers, missionaries, and Oregon Trail emigrants, until felled in 1843 by what explorer John Fremont called, "some inconsiderate emigrant axe."
The place called Lone Tree is a beautiful valley in the region of the Powder River, in the centre of which is a solitary tree quite large, by the side of which travelers usually stop & refresh themselves. — Narcissi Whitman, August 26, 1836
...as I drove along, I would raise my head and look at that beautiful green pine. At last, on looking up as usual, there tree was gone. ... That brave old pine, which had withstood the storms and snows of centuries, had fallen at last by the vandal hands of man. Some of our inconsiderate people had cut it down for fuel, but it was to green to burn. ...Had I been there in time I should have begged those woodmen to 'spare that tree.'
— Peter Hardeman Burnett, September 27, 1843