Blazed Trails (What Old Tree’s Can Tell Us)

In the early days when large portionsof the country was covered with forrests and there were few roads, travel was often possible only by way of paths “blazed through the woods.

To blaze as every woodsman knows, is to strike off a chip from sides of trees, so that the line marks will indicate the direction of the trail. In blazing for a path small trees were marked, but in blazing for the bounds of a lot or town or maybe for a farm line, larger trees were usually selected.

The blaze being made about chest high. When the blazing was done in winter, usually men wearing snow shoes in deep snow. The mark on the tree was sometimes high-up. When such a line was traveled in the summer, especially after some years during which the trees had grown the marks were found high up on the trunks. Now some may think, why didn’t the blaze marks get too high to be seen? I was taught by a man (Robert Wright) years ago. The base of a tree doesn’t grow up. His example was, if you nailed a fence to the bottom of a tree, and it grew up instead of out, then your fence would eventually be over your head. With that being said, if you made a mark on a tree near the trunk it will only get to be a bigger mark as the tree grows.

Many of the tree’s became partially overgrown, so the task of the surveyor or who ever goes over one of these old lines has his work cut out for him. He must pay close attention or he may just miss the mark.

Understanding a blazed trail took some understanding for someone not accustomed to the woodsman’s ideas. If the boundary line passes to the left of a tree, then the cut is made on the right side of the tree. If it went to the right it was simply cut on the left. We called them line tree’s. Most often the tree belonged to the property owner on the opposite side of the cut, But line tree’s were very seldom cut because everyone wanted to be sure of where the property line was. lot of folks have lost their lives over property disputes.

In running a boundary at a corner, where two property lines came together either a rock monument or steel stake is erected. (a stake supported by four large rocks or a tree is blazed on all four sides to indicate as nearly as possible the turning point of the line.

The wound of a tree that has been blazed heals over, but never completely so that scar may not be recognized by an experienced woodsman. That is to say as long as the tree is not cut down or fire destroys the tree.

Blazed tree’s also can fix a date almost as accurately as they preserve boundaries. The outer shell which has grown over the scar is cut away and the rigs in the wood beneath the bark testify to the number of years which have elated since the blaze was made.

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