Mississinewa Trail Tree
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Team gEco Friendly
N 40° 37.786 W 085° 44.318
16T E 606675 N 4498423
Quick Description: A Native American Trail Tree located near the historic Mississinewa 1812 battlefield in Marion, Indiana
Location: Indiana, United States
Date Posted: 1/20/2012 7:28:57 PM
Waymark Code: WMDJHG
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Neos2
Views: 6

Long Description:
Trail trees are trees that were modified by the Indians in order to mark the way to trails, campsites, or special locations. Often these were oak saplings that were given a unique bend, usually pointed in the direction of the point of interest or to be visible from a trail or river.

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. 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).

To make Trail Trees, Native Americans forced trees to grow in certain shapes so as to serve as signals marking trails, hunting grounds, hideouts, camping areas, shallow fords, tribal territories, sacred places, etc. They made them by bending a sapling and holding it by some means until the first curve was fixed by growth. So as to hasten the fixation, they tied the sapling in some manner with rawhide, sinew rope, or stout vines. “Variations in shape depend on the type of tree used, the tribe bending them, the geographic area of the U.S., the age of the tree (styles varied over the hundreds of years that they were bent), what they point to, etc. Trail trees will be bent and will have some evidence of a ‘nose’ on the pointing end of the tree trunk. Sometimes, you can actually see the scars left by the tie-down sinews. Shorter trees are from the time period when Indians traveled by foot; the taller trees — known as horse-and-rider trees — are younger trees that were bent after the Indians began to use horses. Is every bent tree a trail tree? No — trees can become bent from many causes (storms, ice, wind, another tree falling on it, crowding in the forest, etc.) Look for the characteristic shape, plus the knob or “nose” on one end. Sometimes the nose is not very obvious, but there will be at least some characteristic scarring or healed-over part where the tree was cut. Once you see a few trail trees, either in person or from photos, you will begin to recognize them and they will literally jump out at you.

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Recent Visits/Logs:
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TheCatHerder visited Mississinewa Trail Tree 8/14/2014 TheCatHerder visited it