Cutting down a tree is a sad affair. It’s likely stood there longer than your own lifespan, with a thick trunk and gnarled branches reaching towards the sky. One tree, however, has resisted all attempts to fell it with conventional means. Dozens have attempted to cut it down, but were unsuccessful. When they get home, however, they might find that bad luck has followed them back to a place that was once safe. The Devil’s Tree in New Jersey has this unique distinction, resisting attempts to bring it down from its tall stature and onto the ground. It’s rumored to be one of the most cursed locations in an already cursed part of NJ.
The Devil’s Tree looks like it belongs in a horror movie, which it likely does. It stands alone in a field nearby Bernards Township, looking like a scene out of The Ring. The history of the tree keeps the legend alive, with local rumors saying that a farmer hanged himself from the thick branches after murdering his entire family. Legend says dozens of suicides and unexplained deaths have happened in the vicinity of the frightening tree. When it snows, the precipitation cannot pierce what seems like a forcefield around the tree, leaving it free of any snow as if it melted or never stuck in the first place. Locals tell stories of those who attempted to cut down the tree and met an untimely death, from car crashes, brain hemorrhages, and heart attacks.
More legends speak of a ghostly sentinel guarding the tree and chasing off anyone who gets too close, one witness claiming the ghostly guard chased them down the winding road to the Devil’s Tree. Some even think it’s a portal to hell, but no reports of demons or plagues have been reported. Yet.
The most horrific thing about the tree, however, is its history with the most infamous hate group in the United States. Members of the Ku Klux Klan are said to have used the tree for nefarious and horrifying purposes, such as lynching African-Americans almost from the beginning of KKK activity in the region. Some say it’s still a hangout for those with hate-filled ideologies and biases, covering their faces with white hoods to keep from being identified in the community as racists and murderers.
Right next to the cursed tree sits a stone, which some say stays hot to the touch even in the winter. The stone and tree are believed to both be portals to some unknown, fiery hellscape. No word if anyone has ever passed through the veil to confirm this rumor. Others say they can see bodies hanging from the tree out of the corner of their eye before looking back and seeing nothing. Rival high schools frightened locals once by stringing up the mascot from one of the schools. Some say they hear sounds of screaming if they put their ears up to the tree. Still more reports say that after touching the tree, teenagers had their entire hands turn black an hour later, which was nearly immune to all efforts to remove.
The Devil’s Tree has dozens of legends and stories surrounding it, some more horrific than others. But it still stands today in the field, radiating the negative energy and keeping thrill seekers on their feet, as long as you don’t try to cut it down, you should be fine. Mostly.
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Born in Death Valley and raised on the prairie, Deborah is a Wyoming-based paranormal researcher and a senior at the University of Wyoming, studying Communication. Her interests lie in folklore, history, rhetorical analysis and research. With an obvious love for ghost stories, frequently those interests combine with her work on Ghostlandia.