The Crooked Forest is a place we could almost have listed in our review of travel places that look like Dr. Seuss illustrations if it weren’t tinged with such creepiness. The forest is more like the sort of place a band of weary heroes would have to traverse towards the end of a dark fairy tale. Or maybe it would work best for a scene in a mystery novel. That would be apropos since the trees here are in themselves a mystery.
• Sometime in the early 1930s, someone planted about 400 trees near the town of Greifenhagen in what was then Germany.
• Something stunted the growth of the trees and caused them to grow horizontally—all facing due north—for some period of time.
• Somehow, around 1940, the trees curved back towards the sky and started growing back up.
The sometime, someone, something and somehow of those facts are all unknown.
The growth of the trees could simply be the coincidental result of natural factors such as soil type, tree infestations, erosion, snow falls, and/or the availability of light.
Another theory holds that the trees were purposely grown to be curved, perhaps by a boat maker or a carpenter. The curvature of the trees certainly bears a resemblance to the hull of a small boat.
Spot Cool Stuff has been working on a third hypothesis that involves an extraterrestrial plot against humanity.
[ ALSO ON SCS: The Mystery of the Hill of Crosses ]
Regardless, the trees were planted in politically contested territory that saw a great deal of fighting towards the start and end of World War II. After the war’s conclusion in 1945, new international borders were drawn and the Crooked Forest ended up 3 kilometers inside Poland. (The town of Greifenhagen was officially given its Polish name, Gryfino). Whoever planted the trees either perished in the war or felt unable to return to their land that was now in a new country.
Today, there’s no sign pointing the way to the Crooked Forest but it isn’t hard to find. Use our map, below, and ask locals to point you to “Krzywy Las” if you get lost. The way to the forrest makes for a nice bicycle ride from Gryino or the German town of Mescherin. That is, if you dare to visit such a mysterious place.
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