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Indian Trail Trees

Many years ago, native americans bent oak saplings along trails to mark the way to important meeting places. These trail trees are almost a lost part of history, but some still exist. Garden clubs in the Northeast and Midwest have documented the trees. Such the trees may also exist in the South. Many severely bent trees are found in the southeastern United States, including Murray County, Gilmer County, and Whitfield County in northern Georgia. According to author, Elaine Jordan, these are Indian trail trees. She notes that many of the trees point toward Ellijay, Georgia. Her book consists of many photographs, and includes one piece of historical documentation ~ a U.S. forestry drawing.

The trees can be recognized by trunks or limbs which are bent almost at a right angle. The point of the bent limb is usually marked by a "nose" (a prominent bump made by cutting the bark and packing it with moss or charred bark). Some of the trees point to a creek or cave, or even to buried treasure (though these treasure troves are usually found empty today).

Please note that the very notion of "trail trees" provokes controversy, but the southeastern trees are particularly controversial because of their smaller size, and because of reforestation efforts. Critics insist that the trees in question were accidentally bent by nature. The tree that I have pictured here is not the best example of a trail tree, and some say that it is not a trail tree at all. The typical trail tree is bent at almost a right angle, like an ell. Some of the trees stand out so dramatically from surrounding trees that it is difficult to believe the trees are accidental. Eventually, Southern Muse will try to provide more pictures. Links


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