Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Devil's Tree... got a haircut

Perhaps a better description would be 'amputation'. Two of the larger branches on the tree that supposedly were used to hang people from, have as of May this year been hacked off.

The tree as a whole is still there, so is Heat Rock. The DPW can hack off the limbs, but you cannot destroy the memory and the legends of the place.

An older photo courtesy of LostInJersey.com showing the tree with all the limbs intact.
The following shots show it as of this afternoon.

Do I believe in the legends associated with the tree? That it's haunted, cursed, a Gateway to Hell? The execution place for unruly slaves? A KKK hideaway? The Devil driving a Black Bronco chasing people away?

Eh, I believe that every legend is based -at least partially- in fact. Slavery was legally abolished in NJ in 1848. However, by the start of the Civil War, NJ citizens still owned 18 "apprentices for life" as they appeared on the NJ census, however, the Federal one listed them as slaves.

Now, that tree does NOT look to be over 160 years old, but I could be wrong. It happens every now and then.

Also, perhaps it was specifically slaves that were hung there? What if it was just ordinary and free African Americans? Or what if a previous tree had stood on that spot back during NJ's slave-holding times that was used to string up unfortunate men, and the legend held through the ages?

Heat Rock is indeed still there, but the statement that "snow never falls on Heat Rock" is a misconception. During some parts of the year, snow does indeed fall on Heat Rock, but then melts into water. The rock is larger and retains heat better than the surrounding top soil, which allows snow to accumulate on it. The concept is call Geothermal heating and conduction of heat. It's physics and engineering that explains that myth, not The Devil.

The legend that Satan drives a black truck and chases you away can also be explained as some guy with a Bronco, Blazer, or Durango that likes to play pranks on people. I had it happen to me one night with a bunch of people in the car and the "phantom truck" happened to be a black Cadillac Escalade.

But, there is that very ominous feeling that you're being watched when you walk there. Like you're treading on hallowed ground, the same feeling when you walk into a cemetery. I do feel that based on my own experiences there (detailed here: http://akthejefe.blogspot.com/2008/09/devils-tree.html ) and that of others who I know better than to make stuff up to impress me... yes, there is something paranormal about this place. And it is my hope that the local DPW doesnt further damage this piece of Jersey legend and lore.


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