It occurs rarely, but sometimes you discover a bit of information that really peaks your interests and stimulates your thoughts. It happened to me last night when I read an email that my brother Roy sent concerning Indian trail trees. I had never heard of such things, but the minute I saw a photo of one, I knew exactly what he was talking about. I immediately thought of the “Elephant Tree” which was an odd looking tree that was a local landmark for our family. In the photo above you can see a 1935 photo of the tree. The young girl is my 94 year old mother.
It seems that Indians (Native Americans, Amerinds, or First Nation peoples) purposely deformed trees to serve as markers along their trails. Some of these trees, which were usually white oaks, can still be found in the forests of North America. I was totally unaware of this practice, and now having seen some photos of other such trees, (Google “Indian Trail Trees) I am sure that our Elephant Tree was one of these trail markers.
As a kid I was extremely interested in Indians. I had an arrowhead collection and loved to read about them and dream about becoming and archeologist digging up Indian artifacts. All this time in my neighborhood there was an actual living structure with Indian origin, and I was totally unaware of its connection with those first inhabitants of our community. I wish I would have known.
It is really a shame that there was so little known about those early people that had once lived in our neighborhood. I grew up thinking that all physical traces of them had disappeared under European settlement. I find it a bit heartbreaking that the once standing Elephant Tree, was part of the Indian legacy, and I didn’t know about it. I wish I had more photos of it.
The Elephant tree is no longer standing, but it was located within sight of Darmstadt Road in Evansville, Indiana in a wooded area beside Oak Ridge Cemetery. I did write an earlier blog about the Elephant tree in 2014:
You can see my paintings at: www.davidmarchant.ca