Redwood trees are still harvested today

When could mature redwood trees be harvested?

justCal

Although smaller trees may have been cut down earlier, it appears that the first was well documented Cases one of the hugeTrees took place in 1853:

On Monday, June 27, 1853, a giant sequoia - one of nature's most formidable sights - was brought to the ground by a group of gold rush speculators in Calaveras County, California. It had taken the men three weeks to cut through the base of the 300-foot-tall, 1,244-year-old tree, but it eventually fell to the forest floor.


You can read more about these events here: Mother of the Forest

This artist's view shows the felled 'mammoth' tree in the foreground while the scaffolding in the background can be seen as the bark is peeled off by the mother of the forest, which will later be exhibited in London

Another picture from here shows more details about the size of the felled tree:

The Wikipedia article mentions that this tree is often referred to as the "discovery tree" for its species (although it wasn't actually the first):

Much better known was the "discovery" of Augustus T. Dowd of Calaveras Grove in 1852, and this is commonly referred to as the discovery of the species. The tree named "Discovery Tree" found by Dowd was felled in 1853.

So we discovered this miracle in 1852 and killed it in 1853. :(

Aaron Brick

These pictures are great. So dramatic and sad.

Aaron Brick

Auguste Duhaut-Cilly visited Fort Ross in 1828. He made a famous drawing of the fort and wrote:

We went with Mr. Shelekhov to see his wood production ... Mr. Shelekhov showed me the trunk of a recently felled wood; it was twenty feet in diameter, measured two feet above the ground and from one root or pillar to another; The main trunk was more than thirteen feet wide. I measured two hundred and thirty feet from tree stump to crown and lay where it had been separated from the tree trunk.

Given its location and size, this would have been a mature, if not record breaking, Coast Redwood. Apparently, the Russians brought or made more advanced forestry tools than the Hispanic immigrants.

Probably it uses the same source, but without saying it says Coast Redwood: A Natural and Cultural History (Evarts and Popper, eds.) "... Russian artisans felled trees up to 20 feet in diameter ..."

justCal

All information, where this tree was located. I can't find any reference to a stump this size in the Fort Ross information, but the stump of the 'Discovery' tree I mentioned can still be viewed today. Maybe some did in the days of the ranch very ambitious farmers removed?

Aaron Brick

Given its size, it must have been quite close to the fortress. Coast redwoods seem less likely than giant sequoias to leave visible stumps. They tend to grow back by sprouting stumps (the original stump decays in place), and the valuable nubs near their base are often stolen. You might find a "fairy ring" or a "cathedral" made of redwoods second growth in its place, like this one: mdvaden.com/images/Cathedral_Redwood_600.jpg

justCal

Interesting picture and formation. Is that from the area or just for reference?

Aaron Brick

@ user2448131 I don't know where the photo is from. You can see how the original stump is missing somehow. I grew up around these things and can't remember ever seeing an old tree stump that is still intact. I was just thinking of another reason why: Coast redwoods are way, way more chaotic. The young trees will bury their parents in rubble!

Tom Au

"Official" was the first known harvest of redwood trees after the start of the 1849 gold rush when white men arrived in large numbers. This may have been "possible" earlier, but we may never know as this was when the device was first put in the tree. (Spanish or Russian settlers may have been harvested and not registered.)

Unofficially, the redwood may have been "harvested" by Native American tribes who have lived in the area for about 1,000 years. However, these people used fire to "cut down" large trees, not the advanced methods you mentioned.

Aaron Brick

But fire is usually not enough to cut a mature redwood.

justCal

@ Aaron Brick - no naturalFire .

Aaron Brick

@ user2448131 I agree, no natural fires and no intentional fires either. Using hot tools to burn through the base of a tree ("Coast Redwood, A Natural and Cultural History" says the Spaniards did this) is another matter, but it's hard to imagine how the technique works on large trees.

justCal

@Aaron Brick Personally, I doubt the local populations would have tried. I think it would have been sacrilegious. Why use one of these “forest spirits” when smaller trees would be enough? Most of the native philosophy was respect, not unnecessary destruction. By the way, you should share any references that you already have in your question.

Aaron Brick

@ user2448131 Some Polynesian traditions involve making offerings of fish and religious invocations in exchange for cutting trees. I wouldn't be shocked if the Californians came up with a similar idea. I didn't have the source in hand when I wrote the question, but as you said it would have been a good idea.