The Coolidge Tree in Underwood Park, Mendocino County

I’ve lived in Fort Bragg since 2000 and I’ve been “doing” local logging history pretty much since I arrived.  I thought I knew the whereabouts of all the big trees in Mendocino County but not this one – it has me flummoxed. The sign says it’s the Coolidge Tree.

1930s WOMAN DRIVING CONVERTIBLE CAR THROUGH OPENING IN GIANT SEQUOIA TREE TRUNK COOLIDGE TREE MENDOCINO CALIFORNIA

I looked through my files and could find no mention of it. There’s nothing in Wiki about it. Huh! Well I kept nosing around and found this photo:

Coolidge Tree, Mendocino Co. CA

The writing at the bottom says, “The Coolidge Tree” – “On Redwood Highway.  The Coolidge Tree was named after President Coolidge’s father. It was 305′ high and had a circumference of 58′ . The Coolidge Tree was tunneled between 1910 and 1915. The Coolidge tree was cut down in 1938 when it appeared ready to topple and was growing in  Underwood Park.” Underwood Park? Never heard of it. Back to the books. According to Wiki, “Underwood Park is an unincorporated community in Mendocino County. It is located near U.S. Route 101 0.25 miles south-southwest of Leggett.” Well the Chandelier Tree is in Leggett. Is this another name for the Chandelier Tree?”

Chandelier Tree in Leggett, Mendocino County

Can anyone help please?

 

Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad at Fulton, CA. (a 3 ft narrow-gauge railroad)

When we lived in Kentfield in Marin in the 1990’s one the family’s favorite day trips was down over the Golden Gate Bridge, down the Peninsula and along Route 17 to Felton.  I had never been up close to a Shay loco before let alone ridden behind one.  I’m not sure wife Sarah and the kids were as entranced as was I. Looking at these photos taken some 25 years ago brings back many happy memories.

The Dixian Shay we rode behind was built in 1912.  She was originally owned by the Alaculsy Lumber Company, and was used on the Smokey Mountain Railroad in Tennessee. The Dixiana is named for a small narrow-gauge mining railroad, now abandoned, out of Dixiana,

The tender of Shay #1

The tender of Shay #1

Shay #1

Shay #1

View of the Shay from one of the open air passenger cars

View of the Shay from one of the open air passenger cars

The steam and gears that fascinated me

The steam and gears that fascinated me

These photos were taken before the age of digital cameras. Alas, I didn’t have a movie camera. If I had one I’d like to think I could have taken this vid ……..

What happened in the life of a 1,341 year old redwood?

We, as in our computer guru, Roger Thornburn and me, are in the process of creating posters to affix to the outside wall of our (The Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society) soon to be Museum/Library. The photo below must have been taken a long while ago based on the last date and the clothes the man is wearing. The copy I gave to Roger was quite grungy. He’s done a great job of cleaning it up and making all the data readable. Double click on the photo to see all the dates clearly.

Section of a 1,341 year old Redwood tree

Section of a 1,341 year old Redwood tree

Thanks Roger.

The Drive-thru Chandelier (Redwood) Tree at Leggett, CA

First, where is Leggett? Leggett (formerly, Leggett Valley) is a place in Mendocino County, California. It is located on the South Fork of the Eel River 17 miles northwest of Laytonville, at an elevation of 984 feet. You can get there from Fort Bragg (the home of our club’s Model Railroad Layout) via a VERY twisty State Route 1, whose northern terminus with U.S. Route 101 is just outside the community. How big is it? The town of Leggett includes a single gas station, K-12 school, a convenience store, pizza parlor, fire station and Drive-Thru Tree. The Drive-thru tree is named the Chandelier Tree.

It is a VERY large Redwood:

Chandelier Tree. Sign

Chandelier Tree. Sign

Can you really drive through it? Yes, and you have been able to do so for many years. Look at the age of the cars in the gallery below:

 

Big Trees in pics from way back then

I love big trees. One of my great pleasures is taking a drive to Eureka and stopping in at the Avenue of the Giants. I like it best when it’s pouring rain!!!

This pic shows, in part, why I like them so much – you stand by an old redwood and you are standing next to over a thousand years of history. Look at this pic to get the idea:

Time capsule

Time capsule

Amazing isn’t it. I don’t know how old the trees are in the gallery below apart from a lot. Alas I have few details of where they were located or cut. Double click on any one to set the gallery in action.

The Dyerville Giant, a giant downed redwood in Humboldt Redwoods State Park

I visited the Dyerville Giant when we went to Humboldt State University Library recently. It is simple awesome even though it is on the ground.

The Dyerville Giant was recognized as the “Champion” Coast Redwood as certified by the American Forestry Association until it fell on March 24, 1991. Before it fell, it was at least 362 feet tall (estimates from two different sources measured it at 370 feet after it fell). That is 200 feet taller than Niagara Falls or comparable to a 30-story building. It probably weighs over 1,000,000 pounds.  It is 17 feet in diameter, 52 feet in circumference and possibly 2,000 years old.

Dyerville Giant Sign

Dyerville Giant Sign

The Dyerville Giant’s long life came to an end one March morning in 1991 with a sudden thump in the forest. Pacific storms had battered the Humboldt redwoods with the ferocity of a 15-car pileup. Gale-force winds often accompany spring storms with heavy rain, a particularly perilous combination for big trees. The Founders Grove in Humboldt State Park took the brunt of the storm and four old trees tumbled, leaving the Dyerville vulnerable.

Redwoods are like mountain climbers attached to ropes: The trees depend on each other through a latticework of shallow roots that do not clench deep into the bowels of the Earth for anchorage. Instead, they look something like crocheted welcome mats spread across the forest floor. The felling of one tree weakens the entire structure. When the Dyerville Giant suddenly lost the protection of the others to block the wind and keep it stable underneath, it fell, leaving a gaping hole in the spongy earth below. The dead tree can be found on an easy, self-guided, half-mile tour at the Founders Grove.

It is very difficult for me grasp what a tree like the Dyerville Giant has “seen” in its lifetime. When I went to the visitor’s centre at the Myers Flat Museum in Humboldt Redwoods State Park there was a slice of tree which helped me “get the picture.”

Slice of a redwood tree taken out 70 feet from the base

Slice of a redwood tree taken out 70 feet from the base

This slice is about five feet across. The labels on one side really got me going …..

History seen by the tree

History seen by the tree

The bottom left label says that was the size of the tree at the 70 foot height when the Vikings landed in North America. Click on the picture to enlarge it and see the other labels. What a slice of history.