In the years between 1913 and 1936, ECU and the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. were vying for a 250,000,000 year-old petrified tree.
At the time, everyone was interested in the discovery of the tree at a near-by farm because it was the largest example of the oldest tree ever found.
Dr. David White, head of the U.S. Geological Survey came from Washington D.C. to examine the fossil and decided it should be displayed at the Smithsonian, not ECU. ECU supporters raised money for erecting the tree fragments into a tree shape and moving it to campus.
Dr. White died before enough funds had been raised to move the tree to the Smithsonian and as a result the tree was given to East Central. The Callixylon tree was formally accepted by President Linscheid in March, 1936. The plaque at the base of the tree is dedicated to Dr. White.