The Mystery of the Cup Tree…

I’ve been out of town for about four days now visiting family and now vacation. Currently we are in a beautiful condo at the Lake of the Ozarks here in Missouri. My parents also have a lake lot (no house yet) about 30 minutes away from where we’re staying, and so we’ve spent some time there on the dock and fishing, etc. Until today I hadn’t really been fishing since I was a kid, at least not that I remember. It was kind of fun, as long as someone was there to take care of the slimy things. I discovered I don’t have the patience for fishing for catfish and staring in a trance at the fishing line just waiting for what looked like the line being pulled. I started seeing things, experiencing visual pareidolia, like grilled Cheesus, except on the sparkling water. No, I prefer casting colorful and flashy fishing lures out into the water and reeling them back in, over and over. Much better. It was kind of fun. And I actually caught a fish (going by the official rules set by my sister), although I had one and it flopped off before getting it out of the water. The fish that I officially caught was tossed back in.

The area around my parents’ lake lot is somewhat secluded and not nearly as popular (yet) as many areas on the lake. Lots of winding roads, up and down hills, woods all around you. It would be quite an experience in the dark, I’m sure. And Jason Voorhees would LOVE this place. Chi Chi Chi Ha Ha Ha. (That’s me doing the scary sound effects. Friday the 13th nerds will get it.)

The Cup Tree

The Cup Tree

But if the seclusion or the hillbilly neighbors don’t creep you out, maybe the story of the Cup Tree will? Of course, it depends on what story you hear. The famous cup tree, a bizarre roadside attraction, is not far from the lake lot. The road is even called “Cup Tree Drive”. Looking at this picture you can probably imagine a story in your head to go with it. The story I heard from a local, with obvious holes in it, involves a woman who invited men into her home for tea. She’d kill them and nail a cup on the big oak tree for each one of them. Some say she buried the bodies in the back yard. Some also say she went to jail.  According to, the cup tree has been a popular attraction since the 1950s. The site also says that the land and tree was “originally owned by local resident Fred Moore, the phenomenon’s origins are a mystery shrouded in years of ever-changing explanations and folklore. The current owner is no more forthcoming with a plausible explanation as to why generations of tourists have left cups, saucers and even tea and coffee post dangling from the tree.” I’m unable to find any of the other stories of the cup tree online. Perhaps readers from this area in Missouri could help us or maybe fill in the gaps of the story I told.

The Shoe Fence

The Shoe Fence

If you plan to visit the cup tree, plan on staying on the road long enough to also see the “shoe fence” nearby. ( also includes directions to both attractions.) After seeing this spectacular fence we decided to consider starting something like this near my parents’ lot… perhaps an underwear post. (Imagine the stories we could make up for that one!) Surely we’ll make millions. I’ve already got the t-shirts designed in my head.

I’ll leave  you with a Vimeo I found. Maybe the story of the cup tree went more like this?


Related Post:

Route 66: Bourbon Hotel and John’s Modern Cabins (Big Séance)


About Patrick Keller

Patrick Keller is an educator, blogger, and the host of the Big Séance Podcast, which is a place for paranerds to have an open discussion on all things paranormal, but specifically topics like ghosts and hauntings, paranormal research, spirit communication, psychics and mediums, and life after death. He’s the founder of the now inactive Missouri Spirit Seekers and has spent a lot of time experimenting with spirit communication tools and techniques, such as EVP. Patrick also has a passion for spending hours at a time in cemeteries and loves cemetery photography. Visit! View all posts by Patrick Keller

5 responses to “The Mystery of the Cup Tree…

  • spiritchild1972

    Gosh your mind just wanders with these sorts of stories aye? They always say there is a ounce of truth in every myth and legend. So now you start to think ‘If she did kill men, why hang the cups up? What is the significance with it?’ But in actuality it was more something like she used it as a marker to direct the men to her house which would have been dense forest back in the day or something lol I love stuff like this. Please let us know if you ever find out the truth behind it and the shoe tree. As for the Underwear tree…….um….Mkay lol

    • Patrick

      Ha! I’ll let you know of the progress with the Underwear Tree. 🙂 It’s funny though. When my parents were looking into buying their lot out there, they heard the stories from people, saw the tree, and were telling me about it. Then when I wanted to do this post no one knew any specifics and you can’t really find anything online. I want to believe that there’s really something to this and not just an old woman in the 60s who found a way to attract people to her house to sell vegetables. 🙂

  • T

    Truth is, there was an area on the side of the road where people would “dump” their trash before returning home from a weekend at the lake. The “dump” owner would place shoes that were found on the fence post’s and cups on one particular tree.
    The gravel roads were not paved or named with street signs back in the day. These peculiar sites were used when giving directions to friends that were visiting.

  • K

    According to the Granddaughter of the longtime owner of Cup Tree and Shoe Fence her Grandmother, now deceased, would nail the cups to the tree after friends and family left them while calling on her and her husband. No explanation why. The tree and house and fence are still in the family.

  • Anthony Rector

    My name is Anthony Rector I am the Great Gransdson of Fred Moore. If you would like to know more truth behind this message me at this link.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: