As part of the Town’s 375th anniversary celebration, please take a moment
to enjoy some weekly historical facts you may not have known
For centuries in the town there existed lobbed trees – trees artificially induced to grow horizontally for three or four feet before resuming their natural shape. These trees- known as line trees, boundary trees or bound trees- were used to mark boundaries in the early years of settlement. They are still sometimes used by surveyors today to find boundary lines.
It is not known where the practice of deforming trees originated. It is a found in some European cultures and may even have been used by Native American people to mark trails. The trees selected locally were usually oak, hickory or wild cherry. The trees were distorted by bending a very young sapling or making a slit in the trunk of a young tree and then bending it towards the cut and holding it down with twine or vine. After several years of horizontal growth, the tree would be allowed to resume its natural growth.
Water Mill has boundary trees in several areas. There’s a row on the east side of Scuttle Hole Rd just south of intersection at Narrow Lane. There are some on Seven Ponds Towd Rd, some north of Montauk Hwy near Hayground, and a few on the north side of Old Sag Harbor Rd off Water Mill Towd Rd. Another stand is on the east side of Water Mill Towd Rd just south of intersection with Edge of Woods Rd. Those trees correspond with ditches dug by settlers to mark property lines. It is believed to delineate land once owned by the Goodale family.
Perhaps in celebration of the town’s 375th anniversary of its settlement residents might consider establishing some boundary trees on their property lines. Not just to mark boundaries but to create future sitting trees.
Water Mill Museum, located in 17th century water-powered grist mill at 41 Old Mill Rd, Water Mill, NY.