Did Native Americans Bend These Trees to Mark Trails? | Atlas Obscura

As a kid, Dennis Downes was the type who played in the woods. The forests where he frolicked were near Lake Michigan, around where Wisconsin and Illinois meet. The spot is striking—in these woods, there are large, old trees that have contorted into incredible shapes.

No more than four or five feet off the ground, these trees bend sharply into right angles, parallel the earth for a measure, and turn sharply up again, towards the sky. These trees are now abandoned infrastructure. Like like other structural relics, they were designed to be long-lasting–so much so that some of these trees are still indicating the way. But the people they served have been forced to leave, and the marker trees themselves are in danger of disappearing.

Many people who come across trees like these in the forest share the same instinctive response: this can’t be natural. And as a kid, Downes was taught that they were not. The trees looked like that, he was told, because native tribes had…

Source: Did Native Americans Bend These Trees to Mark Trails? | Atlas Obscura

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7 thoughts on “Did Native Americans Bend These Trees to Mark Trails? | Atlas Obscura

  1. There are quite a few trees like that in this area. Were the ancient inhabitants of Beetley doing the same thing, I wonder? Two years ago, I asked an elderly local (83) if he knew why they were bent from almost ground level. He suggested that before the widespread use of ladders and climbing ropes, young trees were contorted by foresters, to make it easier to chop off the branches. I wasn’t too sure about that explanation.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

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