Historic Sentinel Tree Standing Guard Since Franklin County Was Founded

HAMPTON, Iowa- In Franklin County there is a tree that has been around for most of Iowa’s history. It’s called the Sentinel, as it towers over the prairie landscape south of the town of Hampton

The Sentinel Tree has been here since long before the first settlers came to Franklin County in 1852,” said Ray Baltes, who researches the history of Franklin County. “Because of its location, on one of the highest spots in the county, and because it’s immense size, it was really a landmark at the early settlers used to find their way home.”

Nearby the Sentinel is a pioneer cemetery. Early settlers Gideon and Susan Riggs are buried there. They died on the same day in 1860. On their tombstones, and image of a giant tree, much like the Sentinel.

The tree also was a landmark for navigation in the 1860’s

“This tree was there GPS app, it helped them find their way home,” said Baltes. “This is where it all began, this is one the most important things for early settlers in Franklin County.”

There have been efforts to measure the massive tree, but with part of the tree now broken, it is harder to get an accurate measurement. Some have estimated the tree to be 60 feet around.

The tree can be seen on 110th Street 1.25 miles east of Highway 65, south of Hampton.