September 2013
Libby Reuter and Joshua Rowan
Silver Creek Preserve
South of Mascoutah, IL
N38.469273 W089.827385

Midpoint on the paved trail around Silver Creek Preserve, a deck provides a view of the seasonal stream bed—only dried mud when we visited. From the overlook, you can see this maple tree that measures 6 feet 10.75 inches around the tree below the bend. The green-glass Silver Creek Spire Cairn fit perfectly between the trees two trunks. This could be a Trail Marker Tree. Native Americans would bend young trees about 3 feet from the ground to indicate a trail that later might be hidden under a rising creek or by a heavy snowfall.

Great Lakes Trail Marker Tree Society confirms that this is probably a marker tree because its shape is similar to the bend and growth of other authenticated Trail Marker Trees. The tree’s species offers another clue. Native Americans bent sturdy hardwoods like this maple to ensure long-lasting signs on their paths. Also, this tree is old enough to have been a sapling when native people were creating their trail markers. The large circumference indicates a tree at least 200 years old. Trees stressed by bending grow more slowly than those growing naturally, so this tree could have been shaped before 1800. See pictures of other Trail Marker trees at

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