The Cross Timbers

“Forests of Cast Iron”

The land that would later be Edmond, Oklahoma is located in an area of the United States called “The Cross Timbers” which is an ecological region shared by Kansas and Texas.

Central and eastern Oklahoma contain over half of this belt of woodland vegetation. The term relates to the “timber” that expeditions and settlers “crossed” as they moved west. Washington Irving, traveling through the area with the Ellsworth expedition in 1832, famously referred to the “Cross Timbers” in his book “Tour of the Prairies” written during their arduous journey.


“I shall not easily forget the mortal toil, and the

vexations of flesh and spirit, that we underwent

occasionally, in our wanderings through the Cross

Timber. It was struggling through forests of cast iron.”


The Cross Timbers was noted by many trappers and travelers to the area. As early as 1823, Thomas James an early explorer of central Oklahoma, gave his classic impression of the Cross Timbers, as “an immense natural hedge dividing the woodlands,” separating the settled areas of the United States and the open prairies known to Native Americans. In 1840, entrepreneur Josiah Gregg reported that the Cross Timbers varied from five to thirty miles wide. In 1852, Captain Randolph B. Marcy, a soldier and explorer of the American West, reported difficulties passing wagons through the area. The Cross Timbers, closely knit with hardy, slow-growth forests, mixed grasses and prairie, was a physical frustration for those traveling by horseback or wagon, but served the important purpose of a memorable landmark for mapping the vast expanse of prairie.


Nina W. Hager, 2011.