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The Story of the Louisville Witch Tree Is Truly Remarkable

You cannot cut back a witch tree.

The country is dotted with supposed “witch trees”—trees claimed by local lore to be enchanted, haunted, cursed, the gathering place of witches or evil entities, or the location of grisly crimes. In Louisville, the resident witch tree has one of the most outlandish stories of any, and it is one that keeps residents coming to the spot, leaving beads, trinkets, and other offerings to appease the spirits, even over a hundred years after the strange event which created the tree took place.

In 1889, the city of Louisville, Kentucky, thought to cut down a large maple tree under which, it is said, witches would gather to perform their rites. It didn’t go precisely as planned.

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According to local legend, eleven months to the day after the tree was destroyed, a powerful storm swept through the city, including a tornado. During the storm, lightning struck the stump of the old tree, and a new tree began growing in its place, a gnarled, twisted thing that still stands today. Covered in strange galls, and bizarre, spiky branches, it does not look like a normal maple tree at all.

It is widely assumed in Louisville that the storm was payback for the destruction of the tree. According to some versions of the legend, a hundred people were killed in this massive disaster. That’s why people still leave offerings at the tree now.

If you go to Louisville, you can see this strange monument and artifact near CentralPark in Old Louisville. The tree is located on the corner of Sixth Street and Park Ave.