"The Big Trees of Calaveras , High Sierra" Calaveras Big Trees State Park by ranger49

Discovery of a Giant Sequoia

It may have been a bear like this one (seen holding its cub) that Augustus T. Dowd, a hunter,was tracking when - on unfamiliar territory - he found himself in a dense forest of the largest trees he had ever seen.

It was 1852, the great forest at Yosemite was yet to be opened to the wondering eyes of travellers but word travelled quickly from Calaveras to San Francisco and it was not long before tourists came to view the magnificence. of Dowd's discovery.
But with them came Speculators, ever keen to exploit anything for gain.
This tree had a diameter of at least 25 ft. at the base and must have been nearly 300ft tall. Itwas 1,244 years old when felled and still showing signs of fast growth .

Within a year, in an incredible display of greed and vandalism, the tallest tree of all , known now as the Discovery Tree, was felled and stripped of its bark.
Plans to transport and exhibit what could be put together of the remains of the trunk and bark around the world, came to an end after an unsuccessful show in New York whenfire destroyed all that was left of the it .
Dowd, angered and dismayed and was joined in his condemnation of such destruction by the Scottish born explorer, writer and conservationist, John Muir. Together they sewed the seeds that were ultimately, to result in formal programmes for the preservation of natural wonders, and decades later,the Calaveras Big Trees State Park.


The Black Bear sculpture was carved by a local man from Arnold, Miles Tucker. He made it from a 180 yearold sugar pine using only a chain saw. It stands now outside the visitor Centre at the entrance to the Park.

Management of the Forest

These days only managed felling of trees takes place as part of the conservation and preservation programmes carried out under the authority of the State Park

The premature end of a great tree.

The base of the stump - all that remains of the base of the Discovery Tree.

"The vandals then danced upon the stump!"John Muir

Big Trees

  • Last visit to Calaveras Big Trees State Park: Mar 2010
  • Intro Updated May 23, 2010
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Comments (3)

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Aug 21, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    Beautiful photos of your walk in this amazing forest! Yes, it is sad what humanity will do to huge specimens such as these, as well as to majestic wild animals that are merely going about their everyday lives in the wilderness.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Jun 18, 2010 at 12:17 AM

    Somebody is a clever person being able to carve that beautiful Bear & cub

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    May 31, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    Those trees looks marvelous, so glad you could see them. Sounds like you enjoyed yourselves. Nice page!

ranger49

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