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The Legend Behind St. Simons Island’s Tree Spirits

March 2, 2009

by Guerry Norwood

In exploring St. Simons Island, it’s possible, when looking closely at certain of the majestic oak trees that cover the island, to find one actually looking back at you. There, peering out from the trunk, from between two huge branches, or from the stub of a long-vanished branch, you may see the unmistakable image of a weathered face. These are the Tree Spirits of St. Simons Island-lovingly carved faces emerging from the trees.

These sorrowful faces are the creations of sculptor Keith Jennings. He was commissioned to immortalize the numerous sailors who lost their lives at sea aboard the mighty sailing ships that were made from St. Simons oak. He also carved several Indian faces. The oaks, which display these faces, seem to reflect their sad expressions with their drooping limbs and hanging Spanish moss. Follow the trail of the tree spirits and let your imagination take you back to another time. If you would like to see a Tree Spirit, look among the trees in these locations:

Demere Road at Skylane Drive
Demere Road at the North end of the airport
Mallory Street next to Murphy’s Tavern
Redfern Village (in front of wine and cheese shop)
3305 Frederica Road


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