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Redwood Deadwood: 1891

Redwood Deadwood: 1891

1891. "Camp Badger, Tulare County, California. End of Mark Twain log, diameter 18 feet. Slab of Giant Sequoia, Kings River Grove (now part of Kings Canyon National Park), California, felled in 1891, to be exhibited in the Natural History Museum in New York." Albumen print by Charles Clifford Curtis. View full size.


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Alas, Alas

The problem with timber from the Big Trees (Sequoiadendron gigantea) felled here is that unlike the Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), the timber is quite brittle. It is very durable and is both rot and insect resistant, but shatters and fractures easily. These are old trees with the biggest approaching 3,200 years.

Most of the Big Trees felled were used for grape stakes, fenceposts and packing boxes. The trees often shattered when felled.

Worth noting

While the waste of a lot of that wood saddens me, especially for the hollowed out houses and motorhomes described in the comments, one thing that's worth noting is that redwood is prolific out there. My favorite example is seeing good sized (100-foot or so) trees shading the streets of Mountain View and Palo Alto while keeping the weeds down in the median.

[Those are Coast Redwoods, an entirely different (and much skinnier) species. Only 68 groves of Giant Redwoods remain. - Dave]

How incredibly tragic.

What were we thinking?!

You ask and the internet responds

The famous giant redwoods from California have been used to build creative tunnels for cars, and even this house built from one hollowed out log! The redwood tree used to build this house was over 2,100 years old and fell due to natural causes. The section used for the house alone weighed 42 tons and took two men eight months to hollow out the inside. Initially, the "One Log House" was built on wheels and traveled the US as a tourist attraction. Problems eventually arose and now it sits in Garberville, California, where you can pay a dollar to step inside and take a tour, quick as it may be.

Interior photos:

Two big saws

Looking at the way the blade tapers towards the center it looks like there are two blades welded together. One of those blades would have been a workout. Dragging two would have been a real workout. I expect the loggers to look more like Mr. Schwarzenegger than these two.

Tree trailer

I remember a redwood trailer -- it was a section of tree with wheels on it, carved out with furniture like an Airstream. It would tour the East Coast - I remember seeing it as a kid at the NY Coliseum flower show, and maybe at the world's fair.

Wonder where it is now?

A long pull and push

While this picture sickens me, there is a technical challenge the poor sawyers had to overcome. The space between the cutting blades (the gullets) would fill with sawdust which had to be removed before the saw would bind in the kerf.

The Greens will use it.

The brothers Charles and Henry Green will open their architecture office in Pasadena in 1894 and make good, and renowned, use of redwood such as this.

Joni was right

And they charged the people a dollar-and-a-half just to see 'em. This makes me almost physically ill.

I Came, I Sawed

I cut.

That is the longest blade I have ever seen.


Quite large

Needless to say I found the trees overwhelmingly large. We drove through one that had a tunnel cut out of it. Another had a small cabin constructed in its root.

It looks bigger

than the one pictured at the Museum in NY.
There's also a slab at the Museum in London on display since 1893

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