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August 5, 1861: Santa Cruz

August 5, 2011

Big Trees, Felton, Santa Cruz Co.

Big Trees, Felton, Santa Cruz Co. by SMU Central University Libraries, on Flickr

Camp 44

[Today] I visited some limestone quarries and lime kilns near town. Lime is burned for the San Francisco market. All the arrangements are very fine and complete, and about five thousand barrels per month are burned. The proprietor, Mr. Jordan, was very kind and showed me around. These people own a large ranch, raise their own cattle, keep their own teams, cut their own wood, etc. They have schooners for shipping the lime, and the wagons they use in drawing it to the wharf are enormous. These wagons draw from 90 to 150 barrels to a load, each barrel weighing 200 to 250 pounds—surely quite a load.

The mountains back of Santa Cruz are partially covered with magnificent forests of redwood, pine, and fir—tall, straight, beautiful.1 Many of the redwoods are from ten to twelve feet in diameter; one is nineteen or twenty feet in diameter. You cannot appreciate how tall and straight these Californian evergreen trees are. Mr. Jordan cut a fir for a “liberty pole” that was 14 inches in diameter at the butt, and 2 1/2 inches where it broke off at the top, perfectly straight, and 171 feet long. In falling it broke in the middle and was spliced. I saw some magnificent sticks cut from these fir trees. The redwood is by far the most valuable timber of California. It grows only on the mountains near the coast. It is between a pine and a cedar—the wood is as coarse grained as pine, but of the color and durability of red cedar. The trees grow of enormous size, very large and tall, with a habit something like our hemlock, only the trees swell out more at the base. The “giant trees” of the Sierra Nevada are of the same genus, and much like it in all respects, only larger.2 The wood splits well and all the cabins in the mountains are built of it—fencing, timber, everything. Northward they grow still larger. Chester (Averill) tells of seeing in Humboldt County a house and barn—roof, timber, boards—all—and several acres fenced—with one tree. Such is the redwood.

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