The Witch Tree LbNA # 18698
|Placed Date||Sep 25 2005|
|Last Update||Oct 3 2010|
Just north of Grand Portage, Minnesota, if you follow a winding path through a cedar swamp to the very edge of Lake Superior, you will find yourself at the base of a gnarled tree twisted by wind and time, springing almost miraculously from the bare rock just a few feet above the furry of Superior’s waters. This silent sentinel, with its sparse green crown and tentacled roots has stood for more than four centuries on the edge of the Great Lake Superior.
The Anishanabe and Grand Portage people called the tree “Little Spirit Cedar”, the Voyageurs called it the ”Witch Tree”**, and for generations those seeking safe passage on the lake have made offerings of wild flowers or tobacco before departing. Elders say the tree has a sacred presence which allows the sincere a means of communicating with the spirit of the lake.
To find our Witch Tree begin at county park that is located east of Townline Road, north of Good Hope Road and south of County Line Road. Take the east trail from the Picnic Area 3 parking lot. Follow the trail east through the woods. When you reach and open area there will be a trail that leads north. Follow the trail north. After a short distance this trail will dead end at a picnic area. From the end of the trail look for a five trunk tree at a heading of 140 degrees.
There is a fee to enter the park. In 2005 the rates are $5/car on summer weekends and $2.50/car on summer weekdays and any day in the off-season (SEP thru mid-May).
Per a request from Robert Swanson at the Grand Portage Tribal Museum I'm footnoting the clues to clarify that the Voyageurs most likely never used the term "Witch Tree". The term was was not associated with that site until 1923 when landscape artist Dewey Albinson did a sketch of the tree.
Also, in verifying Mr. Swanson's request, I discovered that the Witch Tree has had a problem with vandalism. The problem is serious enough that access to the tree is now heavily restricted. It's a sad reminder that the actions of a few can have a negative impact on us all.