If you see a bent tree in the forest, look about right away.

I can’t image driving without a GPS now… and it’s because I/we let technology take over our lives. It’s hardly surprising that they recently linked the brain to the internet… Maps can also be a great guide, but what happened before we had maps or GPS? Before technology, how did people find their way through the woods? It appears that there were hidden mysteries in nature, and they have something to do with bent trees.՛

Trees with unusual shapes can be found all throughout the United States. Their trunks exhibit unusual kinks or bend at unusual angles. While some of these trees are simply natural oddities, the majority of them are markers that helped indigenous people find their way. Native Americans would bend young trees to make permanent trail markers, indicating safe routes across tough terrain and directing visitors to water, food, or other vital features.

The trees grew throughout time, retaining their original shape but losing sight of their original purpose as contemporary life grew around them. We may not need these “trail trees” to travel now, but their historical significance makes them invaluable. Consider the tales these trees could tell. Yes, we know there are many twisted and weirdly shaped trees created by Mother Nature, but there are few things Native Americans accomplished that distinguished them, and wandering wanderers could tell the difference.

Many trees in the forest, for example, can be naturally bent, as depicted in the picture above. However, the trees bent by Native Americans have a distinct nose, or notch, that extends out at the end of the bend (as seen below). This was made by putting a section of the tree into a hole and letting the tree grow around it. Aside from the nose, there’s another little characteristic that can help you tell the difference between natural and man-made bent trees. Scars from where the straps were placed while the trees were young may also be seen on the top part of the inner bed.

numerous of these trees are 150-200 years old, yet as we all know, there are numerous things that humans do that wreak havoc on nature. One of them is the growing population, and these trees will most likely be “timbered” in the near future…That is why the Mountain Stewards website exists. The website mapped out over 1,000 twisted trees across the country and documented where they were! Hopefully, both young and old will rush out to view these magnificent pieces of American history before they are gone!

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