UPDATE: December 26, 2013 – Carl Naples sent me pictures of the tree from 1957-58. Added to end of post.
Back in 2004, I did some hiking at the Thousand Steps trail in Mount Union, PA. I discovered the trail while looking online for good hiking trails nearby State College. I also found during this search a story about a tree in the middle of the road in Huntingdon, PA, a town on the way to Mount Union. Could this story be true?
There is a tree, literally, in the middle of a paved road on a side street right off of Route 26 as you come into Huntingdon from State College. The sidestreet is right across from the school on the right hand side as you enter into the town. The original story I read tells that the tree was the last witch hanging tree in Huntingdon County and is haunted which is why it was not cut down and paved around. I found this story unbelievable until I saw it for myself.
Over the years of telling this story to friends and showing them the actual tree, I began to become more curious about the story behind it. A few years after reading the original story on the Internet, I sought it out again in an effort to find the author and ask them more about it. My efforts failed as I could not locate the original webpage. Finally, in the past few days, I emailed the historical society of Huntingdon about the tree to find out if they had heard of the story and to obtain more details of it.
It turns out unfortunately that the story is bogus. The haunted tree as it turns out is a cedar tree and the developer of the housing development wished to name the development after the tree and have it at its entrance. Thus, the tree stands today in the middle of the Cedar Development. No hauntings, no witching hangings, just a boring story. Bummer.
Thank you to my friend Steve Wagner who was sent me a recent picture of the tree. Special thanks to the Huntingdon County Historical Society, especially Jennifer Stahl, for providing the true details of the tree. Below is the response I received from the them.
I did some checking. Although there are a lot of myths about the tree in
the middle of the road, the truth is not very romantic.
When the developer started building houses in that location, he saw a cedar
tree in the field. He took the tree as the name of the development, and
arranged for the tree to be in the entrance of the development. So, the
cedar tree marks the entrance to Cedar Tree Development.
Huntingdon County Historical Society
P.O. Box 305
Huntingdon, PA 16652
The Huntingdon County Historical Society is funded, in part, by the
Huntingdon County Commissioners and by a grant from the Pennsylvania
Historical and Museum Commission. We are a membership organization.
Additionally Photos of the Tree – Added December 26, 2013
Carl Naples was kind enough to send me two pictures of this tree from 1957-58. Thank you Carl.