Sunday, January 8, 2006

Indian Trail Tree

Indian trail tree - this one is pointing at the intersection of two creeks. I have read about and seen pictures of these for years, and did not realize we had one on our property until this weekend.

Trail trees have a characteristic bend in the trunk, and a nose on the end of one of the bends. The nose points the direction to some point of interest to the Indians (trails, game, fish, danger, shelter, caves, boundaries, camping areas, rivers, shallow points for fording, springs, trading posts, etc.)

Basically, the trail would be marked by bending, and then tying down, a sapling. Then the tree would grow straight up from the tie-down, and would point and mark the trail for as long as it lived. Sometimes, there would be three stones next to the trail tree, and the stones would point the way to the next marker. To move the stones or cut down a marker tree was taboo, resulting in very bad luck for the perpetrator.

The local organization Mountain Stewards is documenting Indian Trail Trees in the area with their Trail Tree Project.

Some pictures of Indian Trail Trees here.


jellyhead said...

Susan, you are just a mine of information! You would be such a brilliant teacher...not forceful, just leading others to knowledge.

That is really interesting about the trail trees. How lucky you are to have that piece of history growing on your property.

doubleknot said...

That is so interesting about the tree. Glad you found it and knew what it was.