Pittsburgh’s Whispering Tree

Posted by junketseo in Pittsburgh Ghost Tours
Pittsburgh’s Whispering Tree - Photo

Shrouded in darkness and mystery, forests have continuously captivated the imaginations of humankind. Before the days of written works, the trees that create the vast, dark corridors of the woods have held a special place in human mythology. Many contain the remnants of spirits, and the lush canopies they create are home to countless stories and scary scenarios. The Brothers Grimm took inspiration from the nearly perpetual Black Forest in Germany for their folk tales, including Hanzel and Gretel.

The Pine Barrens in New Jersey spawned from its murky depths, the tale of the leathery goat-like Jersey Devil. Not too far away lies the lonesome Devil’s Tree, a tree they say Satan himself planted. So, can trees possess spirits and evil ones at that? One tree in Pittsburg known as “The Whispering Tree” beckoned this question to the townsfolk of Pittsburg in 1893. Many heard its call. They were hearing voices coming from the trunk of the tree. Mass hysteria quickly arose. They believed that a spirit, perhaps multiple spirits, lived inside the tree’s trunk. The Whispering Tree is not the only tree that raises this question. Read on to discover the truth behind its roots and more.

Pittsburg’s Whispering Tree

In 1893, the city of Pittsburgh was in an uproar over a mysterious tree that whispered ghastly incantations into the ears of those who would listen. A large maple that sat at the edge of a wistful river attracted many visitors who could hear an ever-so-soft murmur out of it. They would come at midnight on Halloween as it was believed, and still is today, that this is the time that spirits are entirely able to enter our realm freely. There were claims that this was the site of a grizzly murder in years past and that the victim haunted this tree.

Perhaps it was a lovers’ quarrel, an execution, or something more sinister.? A local lawyer named J. H Maxwell was tired of hearing such gossip and decided to investigate the matter on his own. A dedicated man of science and a destructive one, he took an axe to the tree to read the rings inside. Trees can be dated due to the number of rings within their trunks. It turns out this tree was over 150 years old! Plenty of time for a gruesome murder to be committed.

Upon further investigation into the area and some deep digging, Maxwell discovered 70 bullets lodged in the tree’s trunk and scattered across the surrounding area. These bullets, not of his time, appeared to have been from at least a hundred years prior. Perhaps this was the site of a mass execution of British soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Or, quite possibly, the sight of a racially motivated murder, a common occurrence in American history. We may never know, but Maxwell did discover something else of interest. Two hollowed grooves ran alongside the mighty trunk. It was assumed that water ran down these lines, creating the odd whispering sound. The massive amounts of bullets discovered at the site proved otherwise. Even though the tree is now a stump, thanks to Maxwell’s efforts, many still visit in hopes of hearing the mysterious murmurs.

Other Haunted Trees

The tale of the Whispering Tree is far from the only yarn spun about trees, forests, and their spiritual occupants. A Live Oak in Mobile, Alabama, known as The Boyington Oak, is said to hold the spirit of a man named Charles Boyington. Falsely accused of murdering his friend and roommate Nathanial Frost, he was hung by the neck shortly after the murder. He proclaimed that his innocence would be proven by an Oak tree sprouting from his heart and out of his grave. Many hear whispers from inside it, eerily similar to the Whispering Tree of Pittsburgh.

The Aokigahara Forest, aka the suicide forest in Japan, is perhaps one of the most chilling canopied terrains on all of planet Earth. Home to the Japanese bird demon Tengu and over 105 suicides a year, it lives up to its horrifying name. Since the 1960’s Japanese people have been heading into this dense forest to end their lives. Compasses do not operate appropriately within their boundaries, and those who die there remain to guide others to their demise.

  The Manchac Swamp, an area surrounded by the tall, royal cypress tree of the Louisiana swamps, is home to more than one terrifying tale. Julia Brown, a local Voodoo Priestess, haunts the still waters of the swamps. They were not always still, however. Before her death in 1915, it is claimed that she either summoned or tried to prevent a large hurricane that destroyed the town. She died September 28th, and by October 2nd, a storm had struck the Louisiana coast. The force was so great that it tossed her body from its casket. Some say they still find her remains floating to the surface to this day. The Rougroux, a Cajun werewolf who is said to eat children who are up past their bedtime, also roams the murky swamp late at night.

The Devil’s Tree

The Devil’s Tree in New Jersey is one of the most famous haunted trees in the United States. One that is said to have been a sight of KKK meetings and hangings. Many say they can hear screaming coming from inside its trunk. Many have tried to cut it down but have ultimately failed and ruined their lives in the process. Snow does not gather around it due to the massive amount of heat emanating from it. The Whispering Tree and other aforementioned arbors continue to fascinate all who read and visit them. Read more to find out what else awaits beyond the pines!

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