No straight answers in the crooked forest

Let us leave behind the world of humans, stepping into an eerie realm: a small corner of western Poland, near the town of Gryfino, where a strange and unexplainable phenomenon challenges our understanding of the laws of nature….

Nestled deep inside a forest of regular, straight-growing trees, there’s a grove of 400 pines with a curious bend at their base. This is Krzywy Las – known in English as the Crooked Forest.

How can we understand this bizarre phenomenon? What caused the trees’ trunks to turn 90 degrees, toward magnetic north, before curving up to reach for the sky? Through the years, many theories have been proposed.

One of the most obvious is that some kind of gravitational force pulled the trees into this shape.  But this theory is mostly disregarded by scientists, since gravity pulls down and not to the side. This theory also doesn’t explain how there are still a mass of normal trees surrounding the crooked ones. Why would these remain unaffected?

If it’s not gravity, some people have answered, then maybe it’s snow! Perhaps a heavy snowfall blanketed the forest and weighed the trees down, just as they were sprouting?

Maybe that caused their strange shape? This seems more possible. Again, though, why only this handful of trees?  Why not the others nearby?

As these trees were planted in the 1930s, on the eve of World War II, some have suggested that army tanks flattened the saplings, and those that survived grew back in this unusual form. While possible, it seems unlikely that the young trees would have survived after being run over by a 20-ton tank. And even if they did, it doesn’t really explain the shape of their trunks, which only curve outwards after first springing up straight.

Some believe the local people intentionally altered the trees to make easy crafting material for boats and rocking chairs. Well, maybe! But how exactly did they do this?  With the town of Gryfino mostly abandoned between the early stages of WWII and the 1970s, the people who may have had the answers are likely gone forever.

Finally, there are those who suspect an altogether less Earthly cause. Perhaps the Crooked Forest is the site of an extra-terrestrial visit? Perhaps an alien spacecraft landed here, warping the trees with the force of its intergalactic engines?

The truth is, that we just don’t know for certain what caused this amazing place to become the way it is.  We may never know!

But one thing is for sure. Once we look past the initial spookiness, we here at KIT find the crooked forest totally fascinating, even beautiful in its own eerie way. Why? Because it’s so unique! And we know that often the best things (and people!) in the world often appear weird at first. Just like the most interesting things (and people!) are not always the easiest to understand.

Words: Madeleine Northey

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