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Big Trees, Calaveras County, California

Big Trees, Calaveras County, PO 33 miles north east of San Andreas, reached by stage from the Central Pacific Railroad at Gait, or from Milton, the terminus of the Stockton and Copperopolis Railroad.

Among the many wonders sought by the tourist in California none exceed in grandeur, or remarkable age of vegetable life, the grove of mammoth trees of Calaveras County, and none are of easier access. A few hours ride by stage over a country where every mile affords interest and pleasure, and one is in the midst of these, the grandest productions of the earth. There, in the terse Saxon parlance, are the "Big Trees." They are indescribable by comparison or statement of dimensions, and can only be appreciated by observation and reflection. There are many other great trees among the noble forests of the Sierra, particularly in the region of Yosemite, but the grove of Calaveras is distinctive from its aggregation of the giants, and its accessibility. This grove, by route of railroad and stage, is 92 miles from Sacramento, in latitude 38° north and longitude 120° 10' west, and at an elevation of 4,370 feet above the sea. Within an area of 50 acres are 103 large trees, 20 of which exceed 25 feet in diameter at the base, and as a consequence exceed 75 feet in circumference! This noble grove, surpassing in grandeur all known arboreal productions of the earth, has been placed by Congress under the protection of the State of California to be forever preserved as objects of interest and curiosity, and the region as one of public resort.

The Big Trees were discovered in June, 1850, and previous to being placed under the protection of the State one was felled. To accomplish this, long, pump-boring augers were used and the constant toil of five men for 25 days ; but when thus completely severed two and a half day's labor with various mechanical appliances were required to throw it from its broad base, and thus this monarch of the forest, which had crowned in glorious majesty the heights of the Sierra through all the ages of Christianity, before Solomon built his temple, and even centuries before David had raised the kingdom of Judea to its zenith, was laid prostrate on the earth. Troy flourished and decayed while this tree was and it was a giant of 500 years' growth ____ __thage was founded. Its annular line ___ 3000 years of life ere the vandal hand ____ This grand tree was 302 feet in height and circumference at the ground. Upon the upper part of the prostrate trunk a house and double bowling alley have been constructed, and on the stump a dancing hall. Four sets of quadrilles, or thirty-two persons can engage in dancing upon it at the same time, with room for musicians and spectators. From this an idea, by comparison, can be obtained of its grand dimensions.

The largest of the trees now standing is the "Mother of the Forest," whose height is 321 feet and circumference at the base 90 feet. This tree has been denuded of its bark, which was stripped for exhibition at the East, leaving it to perish. Nearby lies what once was the largest of the group, called the "Father of the Forest," which, when standing, is estimated to have reached a height of 435 feet and had a circumference of 110 feet at the base. Another prostrate is the "Burnt Tree," which is hollow and into which a person can ride on horseback for a distance of 60 feet. "Hercules," another of these giants, is 95 feet in circumference and 320 feet high. The "Hermit," so-called from being at some distance from the others of the grove, is 60 feet in circumference and 318 feet high. Among others of great interest and bearing names are "The Old Maid," "Old Bachelor," "Three Graces," "Two Guardsmen," "Siamese Twins," "Mother and Son," " Pioneer's Cabin," and " Uncle Tom's Cabin." A well-kept hotel gives accommodation to visitors, and various means of recreation are provided, thus inviting the tourist to one of the most remarkable localities of California.

Deeble S, hotel (Reservoir House)
Dunbar Freeman, lumber manufacturer
Dunbar W, lumber manufacturer
McGowan W S, telegraph operator
Sperry J F, postmaster
Sperry, Keefer & Company, proprietors Mammoth Grove Hotel, livery stable, and general merchandise

California Gazetteer | AHGP California

Source: Pacific Coast Business Directory for 1876-78, Compiled by Henry G. Langley, San Francisco, 1875


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