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Friday, March 17, 2023

Determining the validity of supposed Spanish Carvings on Trees PART 3

Original Article Posted 

January 9th 2017 

Part 3 of 3

Although the trail glyphs when found create excitement and are indeed fun to find, the following glyphs when found are even more so, simply because you know you are close to what you’re looking for. This one although we have only an idea of what it means could very easily pass as a natural scar, had it not been for another exactly like it and each facing each other from a hundred yards away it would not have been considered. In part it is an Icon, we have yet to fully determine what its purpose was, and it is suspect of marking a vein.

Meaning Unknown

Here is another that is meant to be seen from a distance, it is in addition to being an icon it is also a cache symbol. Contrary to what some believe pertaining to the cache symbol, in that they say the cache is in the opposite direction the symbol faces, in my opinion this is incorrect, the symbol faces the cache, there is only one way to know for sure.

Before this grew over from the sides especially near the top it was a near perfect rectangle, or so we think,  it can be seen coming up the old trail from about a half mile away as it was likely intended.

Another mark that is very good to find and in every case I have found one, the authentic Spanish mine is within 100 yards of its location, give or take, and that is what we call a wedge tree, here are some examples. In the following image a friend and I had been talking about the different tree markings one might find, then a few days later he sent me this picture below, he asked what it was and I told him it is a wedge and that a mine is nearby, not long after that, a day or two he emailed me again and told me they had found a mine just up the hill about 100 yards and that the dump was over grown and large trees growing through it.

My friend has since taken me to this site, I have to say, this tree wedge is the most impressive I have ever seen, although it has not been sampled for age yet, I would guess it at near 250 years. The dump site and mine above was a classic scene of an old authentic Spanish Mine. They say Old Tommy Thomson was looking for this one, I am told he never found it.

Photo courtesy of Ben Russell
A very large and old pine with an overgrown wedge


One of the most exciting symbols to find is a heart, if you find a heart you are likely within a short distance of what was considered a Kings Mine. Sometimes when you find it you don’t know that you have, simply because the years have masked it and it does not look like a heart because of the overgrowth which is always from the sides. I have only seen one on a very old pine tree that has retained its shape nicely.

The following are examples of what a heart might look like when you find it.


When it comes to the pine trees and how the tree will react in an effort to repair the damage done to it by way of carving is any ones guess. Not all pine like varieties react to the carving the same and many of the same variety may seem to react differently than others. One variety which you almost never find a carving in, will replace the scarred area with a sap that builds up and over time, just like if you scraped the skin of your arm the body reacts and will replace it first with fluids that eventually become a scab and the skin repairs itself. This variety of pine is very similar in its reaction and after time is very difficult to even see the scarred area left by the carving but upon close viewing, it is obvious.

The following heart symbol was by far was the most exciting as we had looked at it for years not knowing what it was until one day my perspective was a bit different. Many core sample were taken to confirm the original outer boarders of the carving and of what we suspected was under the over growth. We were right, it was a heart.

Heart symbol marking a Kings mine and carved approximately 1770

Photo Courtesy of Todd Strong
A suspect carving yet to be verified

Although we have never been faced with this situation before of the above image, and if it becomes expedient to know if this is a carving and what it may be, we can only think to use a rasp to peal back the layers of time to see what it is and what it may be, but I refuse to damage the tree unless it becomes that important, I feel the same way about damaging the trees as the many Native Americans.
Part of this game is investigating seemingly authentic tree carvings, a friend sent me the photo below and with some excitement asked if I could come and see it, I must admit, from the limited view of the photo I was intrigued.

Upon arriving at the site the first thing I noticed was the smaller size of the healthy Ponderosa tree, this immediately cast doubt but I remained hopeful. It should not have escaped my first view but did in giving credence to the color of the wood the cross was in, even in full shade continuous, this should have been a gray color, but it did indeed slip past me. The overgrowth was near two inches thick and so we continued in out quest to uncover what seemed to be additional overgrown symbols in the top left and bottom right. Just as I was about to pop off a piece of the overgrowth, my friend realized what it was.

We both had a good laugh over it but we still had to know for sure, I popped off a portion of the overgrowth and then it was confirmed, + D, It wasn’t until then we looked much harder at the carving and realized it is a plus, not a cross this little operation also gave us the opportunity to count the rings since it had been carved, I would have bet at least 50 years but, to both our surprise, it was carved only 11 years ago. The diameter of the tree was about 18 inches but this was a Ponderosa and so actually a young tree and when the trees are young, the rings are much larger. I don’t feel too bad about falling for this one and neither should my friend; it was just one of those things that had to be confirmed not only for the experience, but to know the truth of the matter. It was a great day and I got to spend time with a very good friend…

The point to this part being added to this section of the book, is that sometimes things look to good to be true, sometimes they are but other times it is the real deal, the tell tale signs are the size of the tree compared to others of the variety, the tree was just to small and the fact that the wood had not yet faded. The bottom line is, when in doubt, verify.

For years I had heard of another mark on trees that supposedly existed, and seems to me one of the rarest of them all, in fact in all these years of searching, I have only seen one and heard of another that I would like to get to one day to photograph. What exactly this mark means or what its intended purpose was, I can only guess but from what I do know and based on where it was found, I can only assume it is meant to mark something important, such as a cache and possibly an ancient cache scheduled for looting who knows the answer? The mark I speak of is none other than a simple granny knot tied in a branch.

A literal Granny Knot from 230 years ago

Finding a knot in a tree branch is impressive to say the least, although very few have ever seen one, one particular individual claimed it is a sextant mark, I might have fallen for this but frankly from where it is found you can’t see further than a few hundred yards away for the trees, if you understand the sextant and its use, you see this cannot be the case. I was more interested in how it was done and how long ago.

My friend who at the time worked in Range Management came with me to investigate, we first found a tree near by of the same variety and with some experimentation determined that the largest a branch could have been in order to manipulate it into a loose granny knot was about ¾ of an inch. In using the increment borer to get a core to the center of the branch to learn its age, and minus the ¾ of an inch it was determined that it had been tied approximately 230 years prior and this was in 2004. What is it with the time frame of 1770?

I have one other knot tree to go see and photograph however it will have to wait. If it were a sextant mark as one suggested, why are there so few? 

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