By James Figueroa, Staff Writer
Posted: 05/08/2011 09:36:20 PM PDT
CHARTER OAK - No one knows for certain if the old oak tree sitting nondescriptly in a yard along Cienega Avenue is the tree of local legend, the one that inspired mythical tales of fleeing Mexican soldiers and buried treasure. But everyone does agree that the tree is dying. The Bakke family, which has owned the property at 21027 Cienega for nearly 50 years, believes their tree is the Charter Oak, the namesake of the community. Lore suggests the tree towered above the rural rancho landscape of the 1800s, and served as a marker where Mexican officials buried a purloined American flag, important documents and gold. Whether or not that's the same tree in the Bakkes' front yard is debated.
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Charter Oak tree facing final days
[Rod Bakke, his sister Debbie and their mother Ruby are the caretakers of the purported Charter Oak tree, which has inspired wild tales of buried treasure and is considered an important part of Charter Oak history. Now the family will have to cut the tree down because it won't survive much longer, May 5, 2011. (SGVN/Eric Reed/Staff Photographer)]
."Everyone calls it the Charter Oak tree," said Debbie Bakke, who helps care for her mother, Ruby, at the residence with her brother, Rod. "As little kids we heard the story (of buried treasure) and would dig a few feet down.