Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Old Postcard Wednesday--California Redwoods along 199 highway


I thought I must post this particular old postcard today because a hungry pixie commented after last week's postcard of Yellowstone Park that his family had visited the U.S. when he was a kid and visited one national park with "very, very, very tall trees." I thought he must have seen Sequoia National Park but it is likely that they visited Redwoods National Park. One or the other. And if you -- like I -- have wondered about the difference a one-page fact sheet here at the Sequoia National Park website just might give you the same kind of Aha! moment I had when I read it.

The postmark on the back of this old postcard is 1954. Add another 56 years to the age of these trees when the photo was taken and you're talking trees that are old.
The statistics which describe the redwood are truly amazing. These giants can live 2000 years, may weigh upwards of 500 tons, and reach over 350 feet in height. A feeling for this experience can be gained in the picture below, showing a view of a tree more than 250 feet in height. As they grow upwards the redwoods usually lose their lower limbs, producing a canopy over the forest. ~Park Vision, Redwood National Park

I found an online document prepared by the National Park Service in 1969, and reprinted in 1982, that sounds perhaps dry if you judge by the title, but it is not dry and it has a wealth of information about the Redwood National Park. From Redwood National Park History Basic Data the following is found in the final paragraphs:
The long and difficult campaign of almost 60 years that ended in October 1968 with the establishment of the Redwood National Park is a story that can thrill the visitor. Many groups and individuals were involved. In interpreting the struggle to preserve significant stands of redwoods, the Service can teach valuable lessons in conservation and of man and his environment.
The memorial groves in the three California State Parks are valuable resources. In each a memorial grove served as the nucleus around which these magnificent areas grew and developed. To secure funds to acquire additional redwood acreage, the Save-the-Redwoods League, encouraged benefactors to designate groves as living memorials to deceased members of their families, friends, or in honor of individuals whom they admired. Thus in the three state parks authorized for inclusion in Redwood National Park there are a number of memorial groves.

Redwood National Park was dedicated by Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson on November 25, 1968. A website describing the Lady Bird Johnson Grove is interesting reading as it tells of the founding memorial grove while also giving good information on the redwood tree itself (portions below):
President Lyndon Johnson signed the bill designating the original park, and in 1969 his wife was present for the dedication ceremony, at which then president Richard Nixon combined the dedication ceremony with a birthday party for LBJ and dedicated the founding grove to Mrs. Johnson. LBJ and Ronald Reagan* also attended the ceremony, meaning this location once hosted 3 of the 43 men who have served as president of the United States. The dedication ceremony was held in the now-named Lady Bird Johnson Grove, and midway through the walk through the grove a plaque . . . commemorates that ceremony.

This spot in the grove is truly spectacular, given the size of the trees which are located there. Sitting on the bench, or standing on the trail among the huge trees in the grove, it is amazing to realize that these trees once covered vast areas of the earth. In fact, 25 million years ago the trees stretched across North America. . .

. . . Most of the height of a redwood tree is gained during the first 100 years. A redwood may grow 30 feet in the first 20 years. After this early period, a redwood may gain 2 to 6 feet in height and 1 inch in diameter per year. Between 100 and 200 years, the tree typically reaches 200 to 350 feet in height. After 400 years, a redwood tree's trunk may average 5 to 7 feet in diameter, although 10 to 15 foot trunks are possible. A 1000 year old redwood thus has gained most of its height in the first 100 years, and once reaching great heights grows mainly in width. The first recorded measurements of these great trees was accomplished by Josiah Gregg.

Park Vision, Redwood National Park explains the expansion to the park's current size:
In 1978, a major expansion of the park took place as a result of efforts by the Sierra Club and others. 48,000 acres were added to the park. This expansion doubled the size of the park. Areas which had been logged and damaged began to be rehabilitated, and in many places in the park areas which were once clear cut and through which logging roads once ran now appear to be natural, although the loss of a 500 year old tree cannot be reversed so quickly.

Establishment and maintenance of this park has been a significant achievement. Truly the last stand of the giant redwood, after 1978 fully one half of all remaining old growth redwoods on earth are contained within the boundaries of Redwood National Park and the three associated state parks.


*Finally, the comment, "If you've seen one redwood you've seen them all" that is attributed to then-Governor Ronald Reagan is actually a paraphrase of this statement by him on March 12, 1966 in an address to the Western Wood Products Association:
I think, too, that we've got to recognize that where the preservation of a natural resource like the redwoods is concerned, that there is a common sense limit. I mean, if you've looked at a hundred thousand acres or so of trees -- you know, a tree is a tree, how many more do you need to look at?
~You can read the one-page fact sheet that gives the background of this infamous comment  
here at Snopes.com. (Oh, how I loathed that man.)


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7 comments:

Debbie Smith said...

I love this old postcard! I have enjoyed many trips to the Redwoods including this past April. Ever time I'm there, I am in awe!
Thank you for sharing!
Have a fabulous day!
ps. Love your new header. Looks like it's here in Nevada somewhere?

ALeks said...

Wow girl!! I love what you did to your blog looks,I love your header photo too!! Just a short visit and warm greetings!
Hugs
Aleksandra

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

ooh...err...now I'm confused

I think it was Redwood that we visited - i'm sure my dad made some big thing about the colour of the trees, i'll have to check. It was June 1977 to be precise so we were there during Jubilee week (for two weeks)

I can only remember very tall trees lining the roads. We stayed in the california area with some people my mum had worked with previously

Thanks for thinking of me - loved the postcard, it does look a lot like i remember the park

A few words of wisdom now from UK band The Stereophonics: it only takes one tree to make a thousand matches, only takes one match to burn a thousand trees

it's so vital we continue to protect these places - who are we to chop down a tree that's over 500 years old?

Hattie said...

There are one or two redwoods left, I understand. Maybe that's what Reagan meant, that if you had seen one redwood you'd seen them all, because that was the only one left.

Lydia said...

Debbie~ That cinches it; I absolutely must see Redwoods Park! I have seen the old growth trees around the Kalmiopsis Wilderness but they aren't the congregation found in the park proper.
In my blog header photo I was sitting in the middle of the Alvord Desert in Oregon, approximately 25 miles from Denio Nevada. Two posts I wrote about the Steens Mountain/Alvord Desert area are I have entered into the desert, and Journal entry 9-29-94-in the high desert. It's my favorite place and my thoughts so often wander to there.

ALeks~ Thank you so much for the compliments. It is so good having a comment from you! Hope things are better in your life and I'll be by soon. xo

DFTP~ When you find out which park you visited as a kid be sure to let me know.

Exactly, who are we to chop down a 500 year old tree indeed! I think the quote from the band is absolutely superb...thank you for sharing it!

Hattie~ There are more than two left, no thanks to Reagan. In researching for this post I read more about Lady Bird Johnson and came to appreciate her even more than I had in the past. (Somewhere amongst the links - but not linked directly - is the speech by Nixon when the Johnson Grove was dedicated. He was pres by then and the speech is fascinating. It might be easier to simply Google for it than to try to track it down through my links here...that is if you are so inclined, and why would you be, really? :).

Vix said...

Sadly despite many years in Oregon I have hardly begun to explored its many many low-density areas.

However, I have hiked a tiny bit in RNP and you should definitely go!

Though to be entirely truthful I may have adored hiking in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park -- with its gorgeous views of the Big Sur coastline -- more.

[I'm not sure if the JPBSP redwoods are QUITE as big as those in RNP, but if you've seen one glorious ancient redwood surely you can blow off the slightly more glorious, slightly more ancient ones if needed? ;)]

Thanks much for this particular Old Postcard Wednesday.

Lydia said...

Vix~ My pleasure.
It is fun to learn that you are a hiker. My husband and I used to hike and haven't for years, and I miss it. Hiking at Big Sur would be heaven! Would love to go there again. And would love to see/hike RNP.

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