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Trail Marker Trees

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  • Trail Marker Trees

    Although controversial as a concept because there are many claimed but false examples, Native American trail marker trees do exist (most notably in the Great Lakes region). They will be BIG trees today. Here’s one on the border of Mettawa and West Lake Forest, Illinois.

    [The public domain photo is from the 1890's, supplied by Lakes Region Historical Society, Lake County, Illinois. It was one in a long line of Trees that helped lead the Native Americans of the area from the Highland Park area on towards West Lake Forest and Mettawa towards the Chain of Lakes and Antioch, and finally directing them on to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin trail trees].

    This from Dr Raymond Janssen, writing in 1941:

    “Among the many crooked trees encountered, only a few are Indian trail markers. The casual observer often experiences difficulty in distinguishing between accidentally deformed trees and those [...] purposely bent by the Indians. Deformities may occur in many ways. A large tree may fall upon a sapling, pinning it down for a sufficient length of time to establish a permanent bend. Lightning may split a trunk, causing a portion to fall or lean in such a way as to resemble an Indian marker. Wind, sleet snow or depradations by animals may cause accidental deformities in trees. However, such injuries leave scars which are apparent to the careful observer, and these may serve in distinguishing such trees from Indian trail markers.”

    Such trees are almost always hardwood (notably oak or maple) and also normally occur in a series, following a straight line. The other characteristic is that the bend in these trees is normally several feet above the ground – at least enough to ensure that they would still be visible after snowfall.

    Wikipedia entry here:
    I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.