The Witches' Tree – Louisville, Kentucky - Atlas Obscura

Louisville, Kentucky

The Witches' Tree

Locals place their offerings on this nightmarish gnarled tree so the witches won't summon another storm. 

If you’ve walked past the corner of Sixth Street and Park Ave in Louisville, you’ve probably seen what can only be described as a natural monstrosity—a tree so knotted, tortured, and misshapen that it could easily serve as a portal to the underworld in a Tim Burton film.

Even if the tree didn’t resemble something from a nightmare landscape, all of the trinkets, baubles, and bead necklaces hanging from the branches would make it impossible to miss. They were placed there by locals to appease the vengeful witches.

According to local lore, in the late 19th century, this tree was the gathering place for a coven of witches. There they performed their ceremonies and generally didn’t create too much of a nuisance. Until, that is, a city planning committee decided to remove the tree ahead of the annual May Day celebration. 

This displeased the witches greatly. So much so, they cast a curse. And exactly 11 months to the day after the tree was cut down, the city suffered a storm so severe that it was generally assumed that the witches had made good on their curse and summoned a storm demon. During the storm, lightning struck the stump of the old witches tree and a new tree began growing there. Not a healthy, happy tree, but rather the otherworldly thing that stands there now.

Whether there’s any truth to the tale or not, it appears that the community has decided to err on the side of caution and leave small tributes on and around the tree to keep on the witches’ good side.

Know Before You Go

The tree stands in front of a building across the street from the northeast corner of Central Park in the Old Louisville neighborhood. Please be respectful of private property when visiting.

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