This is the second in a series of five excerpts from Insider Louisville contributor and author Kevin Gibson’s new book, “Secret Louisville: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure,” to be published by Reedy Press this month. The author is scheduled to appear at Carmichael’s Bookstore, 2720 Frankfort Ave., for a reading and talk at 7  p.m. on March 23.

The Witches’ Tree | Photo by Kevin Gibson from “Secret Louisville.”
Did witches of long ago place a curse on this gnarled tree?

This unique-looking maple tree at the corner of Sixth Street and Park Avenue is startling to look at no matter how it came to be so gnarled and grotesque. But the back story is even weirder than the tree itself.

As the story goes, during the late nineteenth century a coven of witches would gather there to perform ceremonies, until a city planning committee decided to cut the tree down for a May Day celebration, angering the witches and prompting them to cast a curse.

Less than a year later—actually, eleven months to the day—the city was hit with a storm so severe that it actually caused locals to fear the witches had called forth a “storm demon” (a phrase which made the local headlines), unleashing damaging storms on the city. During the storm—and this is lore, mind you—lightning struck the stump of the old tree, and a new tree began to grow. A tree that looked like . . . well, just look at that thing.

Whether the legend is true or false, the tree is something to behold, although it’s advisable to be polite and not mess with the offerings. You just never know.

WHAT A cursed tree
WHERE At the corner of Sixth and Park Streets
COST Free
PRO TIP Might be best not to disturb the tree. Just in case.