This is Axel Erlandson. Axel was a Swedish born farmer emigrating with his parents to the U.S. in 1886. His unusual and rather long-lasting hobby was training trees to assume different kind of shapes like ladders, cathedrals windows, chairs or stair cases.
The control of human beings over nature seems to aim its peak in these very special creatures which Axel started to grow in the 1920’s. In endless patience he taught himself how to “control the rate of growth, slowing it down or speeding it up to blend his designs to perfection”. More historical information about the so called “Tree Circus” can be found on this website.
Pictures found on the Website of Architect Mark Primack who was one of the guys saving these extraordinary trees.