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On June 26, 2005

Reprinted from

By George McLaren
April 4, 2003
"Gobbler's Rock," so named because a turkey-hunter found it, was the first boulder-in-a-tree reported. -- Charlie Nye / staff photo.

NASHVILLE, Ind. -- Rocks and trees are natural sights in the forest.

But there's definitely something unnatural going on in Yellowwood State Forest.

Somehow, large boulders have found their way to the tops of tall trees and gotten wedged among the branches. There are at least three, maybe five, maybe more.

The first was discovered a few years ago and was dubbed Gobbler's Rock, because it was found by a turkey hunter scouting in a remote area of the 23,000-acre forest.

Since then, curious hikers have worn a path to the 80-foot-tall chestnut oak tree. High in a fork in its branches, nearly 30 feet off the ground, a massive slab of sandstone is nestled. The triangular rock, perhaps 4 feet wide and a foot thick, is estimated to weigh about 400 pounds.

The boulder itself isn't that unusual. It's the where -- not to mention the how -- that makes it so intriguing.

About five miles away, on the banks of Plum Creek, sandstone boulders are wedged in the upper branches of two tall sycamores 100 yards apart. One boulder is nearly 45 feet off the ground; both rocks appear to weigh about 200 pounds.

And a local hiker says there are two more in yet another part of the forest.

Carol Carr, 58, of Edinburgh, had visited Gobbler's Rock. Then a friend led her to the two sycamores, in a remote, seldom-visited part of Yellowwood southwest of Helmsburg.

One day, Carr was hiking with an acquaintance in a different area of the forest, on a ridge near Yellowwood Lake.

"We just wanted to go down and see the creek. All of a sudden, there's two more (boulders in trees) by the creek," Carr recalled.

What in the world is going on?

Theories range from engineering students working on a class project to fraternity boys with too much time on their hands, to tornadoes or high winds or floods or dynamite demolition gone awry.

Or UFOs.

Don't snicker. This story has "other world" written all over it.

The boulder-topped trees are up to a half-mile from the nearest road access, in remote areas of the state forest, miles apart. There's no apparent reason why the locations were picked, no damage to the trees, and no signs of any type of heavy equipment having been used to hoist the heavy rocks.

In fact, there's no signs of anything.

Except the boulders.

"You know 'Signs' (the movie) . . . Instead of crop signs, we've got tree 'signs,' " said Brenda Stine, a state forest employee at Yellowwood.

She was kidding. We think.

In fact, the bizarre rock case is highlighted at, a UFO-related Web site. Go to and scroll down.

The Web site (which offers a new book for sale: "Healing the Hurt of Alien Abduction") posts a few comments from a UFO investigator about Gobbler's Rock. Included in a list of topics such as "Alien Mark Appears on Woman" and "Dogs Under Attack From UFOs," the Web site ponders this question:

Did a UFO put a boulder in this tree?

"If the rock was blown into the tree, why isn't there some sign of damage to the bark? It had to be gently rested in the branches, I would think, but by what?" the investigator asks.

Brown County Sheriff Buck Stogsdill laughed nervously when asked about the prospect of UFOs operating in his county.

"That's one of those . . . How can you answer that?" Stogsdill replied, avoiding a direct answer.

Stogsdill said a law officer was dispatched to investigate a few years ago when Gobbler's Rock was discovered. "There really wasn't much to do," he admitted. "Just look at it and try to figure it out."

They couldn't.

No one yet has been able to solve the boulder mystery.

The rocks may have originated near the trees, because sandstone boulders are scattered around the forest and the trees are a considerable distance from the nearest roadway.

Yellowwood officials say many people have claimed credit for Gobbler's Rock -- casting doubt on all the claims.

"Maybe it's some kind of club that goes around putting rocks in trees and they have a little dinner celebration afterward. I've heard that rumor," said Jim Allen, Yellowwood property manager. "Or it could be some college kids that don't have anything better to do."

Some have wondered if a boulder had been placed in the tree years ago, and had risen as the tree grew. But trees don't grow that way. The boulders must have been placed high in the trees after their trunks were sturdy enough to support them.

"You could use a block and tackle, I suppose," Allen said, referring to a rope-and-pulley system.

The fact that there are at least three boulders, possibly five or more, diminishes the likelihood of a weird tornado incident. Plus, there's no sign of wind damage to surrounding trees. And no one remembers any mishaps involving dynamite anywhere nearby.

For now, the Unexplained Resting Boulders (URBs) are being left alone by forest officials. But Allen says workers may be forced to bring them down if too many are lifted up. He doesn't want somebody to get hurt while hoisting a 300-pound boulder 40 feet into a tree.

"I would prefer this go away because of the liability issues," Allen said. "I try not to encourage stories."

The government may not want you to know about the URBs. But we're telling you anyway.

Because, well, the truth is out there.

Somebody, possibly with a few friends, has the answer.

"It's kind of a mystery of who and how," said Sheriff Stogsdill.

"And why. That's another one. Why?"


What's up?

State officials are at a loss to explain how several boulders have found their way to the tops of tall trees in Yellowwood State Forest in Brown County.

Here's how to find them:

The Yellowwood State Forest office (1-812-988-7945) has maps showing the general location of Gobbler's Rock. To reach the office, travel west of Nashville on Ind. 46. After about five miles, turn north on Yellowwood Road and follow the signs.

To reach Gobbler's Rock, head north on Yellowwood Lake Road from the office about three miles, and then turn west on Lanam Ridge Road. Turn left onto Ind. 45, and then quickly turn left (south) on Tulip Tree Road. Follow this gravel road about two miles, and park in a small pull-off near the gate.

From this point, having a compass is suggested. Continue walking south about a half-mile, and look for a cleared, grassy area on the left. Look for an old logging path that leads east from the cleared area, and follow it east and south. Gobbler's Rock is high on a south-facing slope overlooking a ravine. (GPS coordinates: N39 12.204, W86 21.955)

To find two other rocks:

From the Yellowwood Forest office, travel north on Yellowwood Lake Road about three miles. Turn right (east) on Lanam Ridge Road. Follow the road about three miles, and turn west on Dollsberry Lane (it's about a mile south of Helmsburg). Follow the gravel road until it ends; park in a small parking area on the south side of the roadway.

From this point, a compass is required; there is no marked trail or path, and underbrush in some areas is thick. Follow the old roadway west, and then southwest. South of the pond (which is on private property), you must bushwhack southwest to Plum Creek, then follow the creek as it meanders west. The two sycamores holding rocks are on the north creek bank, about a third of a mile west-southwest from the parking area. The trees are about 100 yards apart, but not visible from each other. (GPS coordinates: N39 14.986, W86 18.492; N39 14.984, W86 18.560)

Be sure to note landmarks while hiking in to assist you in finding your way out.

On June 26, 2005

On June 26, 2005

Vandoodle says: I think it's ALIENS!

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