Native Village 
Youth and Education News

December 1, 2013

Tree downed by storm may be trail marker from 1800s

Condensed by Native Village

Ohio: A hackberry tree possibly used by Native Americans in the 1800s as a trail marker was toppled by a strong storm last summer.

Estimated to be 200 years old, the tree stood beside  the Portage River near Woodville. If the tree was, in fact, a trail marker, it would have sprouted before Native Americans left the region in the late 1810s or early 1820s,

In 1968, during a community efforts to clean up the river banks at Riverside Park, someone “discovered” the tree and its unusual L-shape. A local man with a vast knowledge of Native American culture determined the tree was probably used as a trail marker.

The park was renamed Trail Marker Park.

It's believed Native Americans used this hackberry tree to note a shallow part of the river along the trail.  To create the marker, they would have tied down tree limbs on the then-young hackberry tree to note the shallow waters. 

Michael O’Connor, president of the Woodville Historical Society, said it's impossible to determine where the trail actually started and stopped, but it appears to have stretched between Upper Sandusky and Detroit.

Over the years, efforts were made to maintain the integrity of the badly worn tree, like using bolts to keep its wide, hollowed trunk from splitting further.

The marker is believed to be the only one in northwest Ohio.

This is not the first time the tree has created a buzz about town. Several years ago, inmates from a nearby detention center were cleaning up the river banks and cut off one of the tree limbs.

“That was controversial,” said a local resident.

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