Calaveras Big Trees State Park

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Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Calaveras Big Trees State Park - South Grove, CA - panoramio (8).jpg
Giant sequoias in Calaveras South Grove
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Location Calaveras and Tuolumne counties, California, United States
Nearest city Arnold, California
Coordinates 38°16′22″N120°17′26″W / 38.27278°N 120.29056°W / 38.27278; -120.29056 Coordinates: 38°16′22″N120°17′26″W / 38.27278°N 120.29056°W / 38.27278; -120.29056
Area6,498 acres (26.30 km2)
Elevation4,560–4,920 ft (1,390–1,500 m)
Established1931
Governing body California Department of Parks and Recreation

Calaveras Big Trees State Park is a state park of California, United States, preserving two groves of giant sequoia trees. It is located 4 miles (6.4 km) northeast of Arnold, California in the middle elevations of the Sierra Nevada. It has been a major tourist attraction since 1852, when the existence of the trees was first widely reported, and is considered the longest continuously operated tourist facility in California.

Contents

History

Early History

Shortly after their discovery by Europeans, giant sequoias were subject to many exhibitions Giant sequoia exhibitionism.jpg
Shortly after their discovery by Europeans, giant sequoias were subject to many exhibitions

The giant sequoia was well known to Native American tribes living in its area. Native American names for the species include Wawona, toos-pung-ish and hea-mi-within, the latter two in the language of the Tule River Tribe.

The first reference to the giant sequoias of Calaveras Big Trees by Europeans is in 1833, in the diary of the explorer J. K. Leonard; the reference does not mention any specific locality, but his route would have taken him through the Calaveras Grove. [1] This discovery was not publicized. The next European to see the trees was John M. Wooster, who carved his initials in the bark of the 'Hercules' tree in the Calaveras Grove in 1850; again, this received no publicity. Much more publicity was given to the "discovery" by Augustus T. Dowd of the North Grove in 1852, and this is commonly cited as the discovery of both the grove and the species as a whole. [1]

The "Discovery Tree" was noted by Augustus T. Dowd in 1852 and felled in 1853, leaving a giant stump and a section of trunk showing the holes made by the augers used to fell it. [2] It measured 25 ft (7.6 m) in diameter at its base and was determined by ring count to be 1,244 years old when felled. A section of the trunk was toured with little fanfare while the stump was later turned into a dance floor. John Muir wrote an essay titled "The Vandals Then Danced Upon the Stump!" to criticize the felling of the tree. [3]

Discovery Tree - Largest known Giant Sequoia but it was cut down. Notice an adult person in above picture standing on its platform trunk US CA SP Calaveras Big Trees Discovery Tree 2.jpg
Discovery Tree - Largest known Giant Sequoia but it was cut down. Notice an adult person in above picture standing on its platform trunk

In 1854, a second tree named the "Mother of the Forest" was skinned alive, of its bark in 1854, to be reassembled at exhibitions. This mortally wounded the tree, since outer layer of protective bark was taken away, tree lost its resistance to fire. If you look closely there are still horizontal saw marks in the wood to remove the bark. The tree didn't survive long after, having shed its entire canopy by 1861. [4] In 1908, with the tree unprotected by its fire resistant bark, a fire swept through the area and burned away much of what was left of the tree. [5] Today, only a fire-blackened snag remains of the Mother of the Forest.

Mother of the Forest US CA SP Calaveras Big Trees 2020sep06 Mother of the Forest.jpg
Mother of the Forest
John Muir for Mother of the Forest US CA SP Calaveras Big Trees 2020sep06 mother of forest.jpg
John Muir for Mother of the Forest

In early 1880s, [6] [7] a tunnel was cut through the compartments by a private land owner at the request of James Sperry, founder of the Murphys Hotel, so that tourists could pass through it. [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] The tree was chosen in part because of the large forest fire scar. The Pioneer Cabin Tree, as it was soon called, emulated the tunnel carved into Yosemite's Wawona Tree, and was intended to compete with it for tourists. [13] [14] [15]

Calls for preservation

Despite or due to the 1850s exhibitions, the destruction of the big trees was met with public outcry. [16] In 1864, on introducing the bill that would become the Yosemite Grant, senator John Conness opined that even after people had seen the physical evidence of the Discovery Tree and the Mother of the Forest, they still did not believe the trees were genuine, and that the areas they were from should be protected instead. [17] However, this did not guarantee any legal protection for the trees of Calaveras Grove.

Establishing Calaveras Big Trees State Park

By the turn of the century the land was owned by several lumber companies, with plans to cut the remaining trees down, as sequoia and giant sequoia with their thick trunks were seen as great sources of lumber at the time. [18] This again caused a chorus of public outcry by locals and conservationists, and the area continued to be treated as a tourist attraction. The Yosemite protection was gradually extended to most sequoias, [19] and Calaveras Grove was joined to California State Parks in 1931. [20] [21]

Parcels of land that would later become the state park and nearby national park were optioned by lumberman Robert P. Whiteside in January 1900, with the intention of logging. A protracted battle to preserve the trees was launched by Laura Lyon White and the California Club. Despite legislation in 1900 and 1909 authorizing the federal government to purchase the property, Whiteside refused to sell the land at the offered price, preferring its higher valuation as parkland. It was not until 1931 that Whiteside's family began to divest the property, beginning with the North Grove. [22]

The area was declared a state park in 1931 and now encompasses 6,498 acres (2,630 ha) in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties. [23] [2]

Save-the-Redwood and Calaveras-Grove-Association bought the parcels of land to make Calaveras Big Tree State Park US CA SP Calaveras Big Trees Calaveras Grove Asso Save the Redwood.jpg
Save-the-Redwood and Calaveras-Grove-Association bought the parcels of land to make Calaveras Big Tree State Park

Over the years other parcels of mixed conifer forests, including the much larger South Calaveras Grove of Giant Sequoias (purchased in 1954 for US$2.8 million, equivalent to US $27 million in 2020 dollars), have been added to the park to bring the total area to over 6,400 acres (2,600 ha). The North Grove contains about 100 mature giant sequoias; the South Grove, about 1,000. [2] According to Naturalist John Muir the forest protected by the park is: "A flowering glade in the very heart of the woods, forming a fine center for the student, and a delicious resting place for the weary." [24]

Attractions

Pioneer Cabin Tree in 2006. CalaverasTreeTunnel1.jpg
Pioneer Cabin Tree in 2006.

The North Grove includes several noteworthy giant sequoias:

The South Grove also included several noteworthy giant sequoias:

Louis Agassiz Tree - One of the last few Giant Sequoia US CA SP Calaveras Big Trees Louis Agassiz Tree.jpg
Louis Agassiz Tree - One of the last few Giant Sequoia
Palace Tree with large hollowed out trunk. Travellers have stuck nails on its internal trunk US CA SP Calaveras Big Trees Palace Tree.jpg
Palace Tree with large hollowed out trunk. Travellers have stuck nails on its internal trunk

Other attractions of Calaveras Big Trees include the Stanislaus River, Beaver Creek, the Lava Bluff Trail, and Bradley Trail. [2]

Giant Sequoia burned in fire of 1908 holding its ground US CA SP Calaveras Big Trees Giant Sequoia burned in 1908.jpg
Giant Sequoia burned in fire of 1908 holding its ground

Activities

The park houses two main campgrounds with a total of 129 campsites, six picnic areas and hundreds of miles of established trails. [2]

Other activities include cross-country skiing, evening ranger talks, numerous interpretive programs, environmental educational programs, junior ranger programs, hiking, mountain biking, bird watching and summer school activities for school children. Dogs are welcome in the park on leash in developed areas like picnic sites, campgrounds, roads and fire roads (dirt). Dogs are not allowed on the designated trails, nor in the woods in general. [2]

See also

Related Research Articles

Yosemite National Park National Park in California, United States

Yosemite National Park is an American national park in California, surrounded on the southeast by Sierra National Forest and on the northwest by Stanislaus National Forest. The park is managed by the National Park Service and covers an area of 759,620 acres and sits in four counties – centered in Tuolumne and Mariposa, extending north and east to Mono and south to Madera County. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, meadows, glaciers, and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness.

<i>Sequoiadendron giganteum</i> Species of tree found in North America

Sequoiadendron giganteum is the sole living species in the genus Sequoiadendron, and one of three species of coniferous trees known as redwoods, classified in the family Cupressaceae in the subfamily Sequoioideae, together with Sequoia sempervirens and Metasequoia glyptostroboides. Giant sequoia specimens are the most massive trees on Earth. The common use of the name sequoia usually refers to Sequoiadendron giganteum, which occurs naturally only in groves on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California.

Calaveras County, California County in California, United States

Calaveras County, officially the County of Calaveras, is a county in the northern part of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 40,171. The county seat is San Andreas. Angels Camp is the county's only incorporated city. Calaveras is Spanish for "skulls"; the county was reportedly named for the remains of Native Americans discovered by the Spanish explorer Captain Gabriel Moraga.

Kings Canyon National Park National park in California, United States

Kings Canyon National Park is an American national park in the southern Sierra Nevada, in Fresno and Tulare Counties, California. Originally established in 1890 as General Grant National Park, the park was greatly expanded and renamed to Kings Canyon National Park on March 4, 1940. The park's namesake, Kings Canyon, is a rugged glacier-carved valley more than a mile (1,600 m) deep. Other natural features include multiple 14,000-foot (4,300 m) peaks, high mountain meadows, swift-flowing rivers, and some of the world's largest stands of giant sequoia trees. Kings Canyon is north of and contiguous with Sequoia National Park, and both parks are jointly administered by the National Park Service as the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Sequoia National Park National park in the Sierra Nevada mountains, California, U.S.

Sequoia National Park is an American national park in the southern Sierra Nevada east of Visalia, California. The park was established on September 25, 1890, to protect 404,064 acres of forested mountainous terrain. Encompassing a vertical relief of nearly 13,000 feet (4,000 m), the park contains the highest point in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet (4,421 m) above sea level. The park is south of, and contiguous with, Kings Canyon National Park; both parks are administered by the National Park Service together as the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. UNESCO designated the areas as Sequoia-Kings Canyon Biosphere Reserve in 1976.

General Grant Grove

General Grant Grove, a section of the greater Kings Canyon National Park, was established by the US Congress in 1890 and is located in Fresno County, California. The primary attraction of General Grant Grove is the giant sequoia trees that populate the grove. General Grant Grove's most well-known tree is the General Grant Tree, which is 267 feet tall and the third largest known tree in the world. The General Grant Tree is over 1,500 years old and is known as the United States's national Christmas Tree. General Grant Grove consists of 154 acres and is geographically isolated from the rest of Kings Canyon National Park.

Nelder Grove Giant sequoia grove in Madera County, California, United States

Nelder Grove, formerly known as Fresno Grove when it was within a much larger 19th-century Fresno County, is a Giant sequoia grove located in the western Sierra Nevada within the Sierra National Forest, in Madera County, California.

Mariposa Grove Giant sequoia grove in Yosemite National Park, California, United States

Mariposa Grove is a sequoia grove located near Wawona, California, United States, in the southernmost part of Yosemite National Park. It is the largest grove of giant sequoias in the park, with several hundred mature examples of the tree. Two of its trees are among the 30 largest giant sequoias in the world. The grove closed on July 6, 2015, for a restoration project and reopened on June 15, 2018.

Sequoia National Forest

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Chandelier Tree Coast redwood tunnel tree

The Chandelier Tree in Drive-Thru Tree Park is a 276-foot (84 m) tall coast redwood tree in Leggett, California with a 6-foot (1.8 m) wide by 6-foot-9-inch (2.06 m) high hole cut through its base to allow a car to drive through. Its base measures 16 ft (4.9 m) diameter at breast height (chest-high). The sign claims 315 ft. high and 21 ft. wide, but a Certified Arborist experienced with tallest redwoods, using a laser rangefinder, measured the tree as 276 ft. high and 16 ft. diameter. The name "Chandelier Tree" comes from its unique limbs that resemble a chandelier. The limbs, which measure from 4 to 7 ft in diameter, begin 100 ft (30 m) above the ground. The tree is believed to have been carved in the early 1930s by Charlie Underwood.

Giant Forest Giant Forest, Sequoiadendron giganteum, most accessible of all giant sequoia groves

The Giant Forest, famed for its giant sequoia trees, is within the United States' Sequoia National Park. This montane forest, situated at over 6,000 ft (1,800 m) above mean sea level in the western Sierra Nevada of California, covers an area of 1,880 acres (7.6 km2). The Giant Forest is the most accessible of all giant sequoia groves, as it has over 40 mi (64 km) of hiking trails.

Wawona Tree

The Wawona Tree, also known as the Wawona Tunnel Tree, was a famous giant sequoia that stood in Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California, USA, until February 1969. It had a height of 227 feet (69 m) and was 26 feet (7.9 m) in diameter at the base.

Mother of the Forest Historical giant sequoia tree located in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, California, United States

The Mother of the Forest was an ancient and huge Sequoiadendron giganteum tree. The tree lived in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in eastern central California, United States. The dead tree's remains are within the Calaveras Grove of Big Trees State Park, in Calaveras County, California.

Mountain Home Grove Giant sequoia grove in Tulare County, California, United States

Mountain Home Grove is a grove of giant sequoia trees located in the southern part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, and includes some of the largest trees in the world.

<i>Sequoia sempervirens</i> Species of plant of the monotypic genus Sequoia in the cypress family (Cupressaceae)

Sequoia sempervirens is the sole living species of the genus Sequoia in the cypress family Cupressaceae. Common names include coast redwood, coastal redwood, and California redwood. It is an evergreen, long-lived, monoecious tree living 1,200–2,200 years or more. This species includes the tallest living trees on Earth, reaching up to 115.5 meters (379 ft) in height and up to 8.9 meters (29.2 ft) in diameter at breast height (dbh). These trees are also among the oldest living things on Earth. Before commercial logging and clearing began by the 1850s, this massive tree occurred naturally in an estimated 810,000 hectares along much of coastal California and the southwestern corner of coastal Oregon within the United States.

Balch Park

Balch Park is a county park in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains of California that features a grove of Giant Sequoia trees. It also has archaeological sites relating to the early Native Americans of the area, and to the late 19th- and early 20th-century logging industry that cut down many of the big trees in the area.

Pioneer Cabin Tree

The Pioneer Cabin Tree, also known as The Tunnel Tree, was a giant sequoia in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, California. It was considered one of the U.S.'s most famous trees, and drew thousands of visitors annually. It was estimated to have been more than 1,000 years old, and measured 33 feet (10 m) in diameter; its exact age and height were not known. The tree was topped before 1859. It fell and shattered during a storm on January 8, 2017.

References

Notes

    Citations

    1. 1 2 Farquhar, Francis P. (1925). "Discovery of the sierra Nevada". California Historical Society Quarterly. 4 (1): 3–58. doi:10.2307/25177743. hdl: 2027/mdp.39015049981668 . JSTOR   25177743., Yosemite.ca.us
    2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Calaveras Big Trees State Park" . Retrieved January 9, 2017.
    3. McKinney, John (2002-10-13). "An autumn walk through Calaveras County's majestic groves". Los Angeles Times. ISSN   0458-3035 . Retrieved 2018-06-12.
    4. "The Mammoth Trees of California" (PDF), Hutchings’ California Magazine (33), p. 392, March 1859
    5. Hawken 2008, p.  51.
    6. "Trip to the Big Trees". Sacramento Daily Union. 18 (15). 8 September 1883. p. 2. The "Pioneers’ Cabin" had a large burnt cavity, which this year has been so enlarged by workmen, that a stage could easily pass through it with enough of the tree left on each side to support it in health.
    7. California State Parks (2008). "Hanging On By A Branch: The Pioneer Cabin Tree".
    8. "The Latest: Famed giant sequoia topples in California storms". Associated Press. January 9, 2017. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
    9. Carol Kramer; Calaveras Big Trees Association (September 6, 2010). Calaveras Big Trees. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 118–. ISBN   978-1-4396-2522-4.
    10. Bourn, Jennifer (September 28, 2016). "The Calaveras Big Trees North Grove Trail". Inspiredimperfection.com. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
    11. "The Pioneer's Cabin and Pluto's Chimney – Big Tree Grove, Calaveras County" (Albumen Photograph). Library of Congress. 1866. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
    12. "Iconic Pioneer Cabin tree falls during strong Northern California storm" (Video). CBS News . January 9, 2017. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
    13. Hongo, Hudson (January 9, 2017). "After More Than 100 Years, California's Iconic Tunnel Tree Is No More". Gizmodo . Retrieved January 9, 2017.
    14. Mazza, Ed (January 9, 2017). "GREEN: Pioneer Cabin Tree, Iconic Giant Sequoia With 'Tunnel', Falls In Storm". The Huffington Post . Retrieved January 9, 2017. The tree was “barely alive” due to the hole punched through it in the 1880s.
    15. Summers, Jordan (May 15, 2012). 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Sacramento: Including Auburn, Folsom, and Davis. Birmingham, Alabama: Menasha Ridge Press. p. 120. ISBN   0897326040.
    16. Hickman, Leo (27 June 2013). "How a giant tree's death sparked the conservation movement 160 years ago". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
    17. "The Congressional Globe". A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875. May 18, 1864. p. 2301. From the Calaveras grove some sections of a fallen tree were cut during and pending the great World’s Fair that was held in London some years since. One joint of the tree was sectionized and transported to that country in sections, and then set up there. The English who saw it declared it to be a Yankee invention, made from beginning to end; that it was an utter untruth that such trees grew in the country; that it could not be
    18. Dollar, George (July 1897), "Timber Titans", The Strand Magazine, 14 (79)
    19. Hartesveldt, Richard J. (1975). The Giant Sequoia of the Sierra Nevada. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. p. 3.
    20. Kramer, Carol (2010). Calaveras Big Trees. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN   9781439625224.
    21. Isne, John (2013). Our National Park Policy: A Critical History. Routledge. p. 115. ISBN   9781135990503.
    22. Binkley, Cameron (2005). "A Cult of Beauty: The Public Life and Civic Work of Laura Lyon White". California History. 82 (2): 48–49. JSTOR   25161804.
    23. "California State Park System Statistical Report: Fiscal Year 2009/10" (PDF). California State Parks: 18. Retrieved October 29, 2011.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
    24. St. John, Paige; Hamilton, Matt (January 8, 2017). "An iconic tunnel tree in a California state park is no more after huge storm". Los Angeles Times . Truckee, California. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
    25. North Grove Guidebook, Calaveras Big Trees State Park
    26. "How Big are Big Trees?". California State Parks. Retrieved October 29, 2011.