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The Skull Tree and the Baby’s Cradle

It’s no surprise that most of the creepiest stories of all time take place in heavily wooded areas. Pick your favorite Grimm’s fairy tale, and the odds are strong that there’s a forest in it somewhere. Some trees are, quite simply, scary. And lots of them packed closely together are scary in entirely different way. And there are so many trees in Pennsylvania that the entire state was named after them (sylvania means “forest land”). So it’s hardly surprising that the state also has its fair share of creepy tree stories.

Probably the most famous tree in the entire state is the one on the Devil’s Road near the Delaware border, a misshapen creation that grows on an embankment along one of the road’s more treacherous curves. Erosion has exposed the roots, which looks like an enormous human skull or the skeletal fingers of a hand clawing at the earth. It’s this tree that the character Ivy Walker in The Village stumbles upon during her trek through the woods, and it’s probably the legend that her father, played by William Hurt, referred to in his nod-to-the-audience line about the legends of the woods.

This grotesque trunk has earned the tree many names, including the Skull Tree, the Devil’s Tree, and the Baby’s Cradle. And it has attracted many tales too, including one of an infant sacrifice left among the roots. In a gruesome nod to this tale, you can sometimes find decapitated baby dolls cradled within the tree’s bony fingers.

The Baby’s Cradle of Devil’s Road

One of the most noticeable attractions on Devil’s Road is a very large tree with a small hole hollowed out in the middle. As legend has it, this is called the Baby's Cradle, because a small fetus was once found inside this hole in the tree. –CiCi

There’s a tree with a hole in it along the road, and a mother put her baby in it and left it for dead. If you stop your car, kill the engine and turn the lights off, they say that you can hear the baby crying still. Every night I got close to the place I'd have horrible dreams that seemed all too realistic.  –Dan A.

The Skull Tree Awe’s Me

My friend pointed out a tree growing at the roadside behind us. Half of its roots were exposed by erosion, and when he put the car in reverse, the lights created quite a display in the shadows of the roots. The roots took the form of a five-foot high skull. I had more of a sense of awe than fear looking at it.  –Matt

Skull Tree Filled with Concrete

The site that everyone is writing you about is named Cossart Road, a.k.a .Cult House Road. The stories I've heard go as far back as my father's teen years. I have had some weird experiences down there back in my high school days as well. I was stopped by the security patrols down there, when I had to pull over for a flat. They didn't believe my story of being lost, which I used to get myself out of trouble. The security did go to great lengths to make me understand that the Cult House is a myth. I personally don't believe them. The tree that people refer to with the exposed roots has been filled in with concrete as of late June 2004. Ironically, M. Knight Shyamalan filmed his new movie "The Village" about five miles down the road. If you've seen the previews, you know it's a story about a race of mythical creatures in the woods. Pretty ironic.  –Lou Marziotti

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