Whalebone Tree

Ellensburg’s Well Hung Tree

     You might call it a whale of a mystery, and it has plenty of folks in this central Washington town stumped. How did the jawbone of a titanic whale become embedded in an elm tree in the arid Kittitas Valley, 100 miles from the ocean? The bone forms a weathered gray arch from the tree trunk to the ground in the front yard of a house built as a parsonage in 1887. Some people, including whaling history experts, believe a sea captain once stayed in the house and displayed the jawbones of a catch in the front yard. Over time, the tree has enveloped a section of the bone.

     The whalebone tree briefly became a national curiosity in the late 1990s, when it was mentioned on Art Bell’s “Coast to Coast AM” syndicated radio show by Mel Waters, the namesake for “Mel’s Hole,” an alleged bottomless hole located somewhere in the mountains west of Ellensburg.  Waters explained to Bell that an old Basque had once told him that the whale bone was a marker left behind by Basque whalers. No explanation was provided, however, as to why Basque whalers would be wandering the streets of Ellensburg…

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