Council Grove, Kansas was the last stop for 625 miles along the Sante Fe trail. Pioneers would gather their provisions at The Last Chance store, gussy up, and perhaps mail a final letter to their loved ones before the trek to New Mexico and beyond. With no formal post offices, letters were placed in the knobs and holes of the 80-foot tall tree that shaded the main drag of Council Grove.
From 1827 on, travelers would leave trail condition information and more upon the oak, so “The Post Office Oak” it was dubbed. The tree was a go-to stop for every passerby. It took about a week for news on the east coast to reach Kansas. In 1855, a postmaster was assigned to Council Grove. With no official office, he “posted” up next to the Oak tree and slung mail out of his sack.
In 1990, at 270 years old, The Post Office Oak died, leaving a massive stump behind. For a time, the stump was removed and a pole was put in its place. It is now back where it began, with a protective awning and base. Behind is Council Groves historical society building.