Carved faces peer out from the old oak trees scattered around Saint Simons Island, a barrier island off the coast of Georgia. The weathered wooden facades, dubbed the “tree spirits,” are a beloved addition to the island’s towering flora.
Saint Simons is known for its impressive oaks. In the island’s early years, it boasted a prosperous lumber industry. Timbers from Saint Simons were even used to construct the Brooklyn bridge in 1874.
Though they may look like an ancient source of forest magic, the tree carvings were created by local artist Keith Jennings, who says the faces are a reflection of his personal connection with the trees on his island home. The individual oaks influence each unique work of art.
Jennings began bringing the tree spirits to life in the 1980s. Each face is carved by hand and takes anywhere from two to four days to create. According to local legend, the spirits immortalize the sailors who were lost at sea while journeying aboard ships made from Saint Simons oaks.
Know Before You Go
The GPS coordinates and address lead to the tree carving outside Murphy's Tavern. The other tree spirits are scattered throughout the island. Finding one is like finding a lost treasure.