National Geographic : 1959 Aug
The National Geographic Magazine called Tharp's log a "noble den ... likely to outlast the most durable stone castle, and commanding views of garden and grove grander far than the richest king ever en joyed." The two mountain men talked long about the trees, even as lumbermen's saws were bit ing into sequoia wood not many miles away. Thousands of sequoias were felled, their pon derous trunks often splintering and left as waste. Stumps Remain from Growth of Ages Converse Basin, near the borders of Kings Canyon National Park, is a giants' graveyard of stumps-all that remains of a sequoia stand once rivaling the Giant Forest. When the Giant Forest itself was threat ened, such sights aroused the national con science. It found voice in men like publisher George W. Stewart of Visalia, California; Gustavus Eisen of the California Academy of Science; and, of course, Muir. In 1890 Sequoia was established as our second national park, 18 years after Yellow stone. A week later the General Grant Grove near by was given national park status. Still the Giant Forest was not safe. Pri vate land holdings within the park included some of the finest sequoia stands, and over the years timber values rose temptingly. To preserve these trees, the Department of the Interior obtained an appropriation of $50,000 for land purchase. The amount needed, how ever, was $70,000. It was a reasonable price, but could the additional $20,000 be raised in time? The Congress was swamped with preadjournment business, and options on the land had nearly expired. Would it be in order to appeal to the National Geographic Society, whose mem bers from every State were so deeply inter ested in the preservation of America's natural treasures? It was. The Society's Board of Managers, appreciating the emergency, acted promptly to appropriate the needed sum. This grant, presented in 1916, was the first of nearly $100,000 given by The Society and individual members for such purchases. The Giant For est was saved intact.* "This act on the part of your Society I know will meet with the highest commenda tion from its great membership." Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane wrote Dr. Gilbert Grosvenor, then The Society's Direc tor and Editor and now Chairman of its Board of Trustees, "because thereby you render to the Government of the United States and to all of its people a lasting service and in a sense create a monument to the honor of your So ciety itself. "The trees which your money, together with that appropriated by Congress, enables us to purchase are... the original pioneers. To have them fall before the ax of the wood man would have been a lasting crime," Secre tary Lane concluded, "reflecting seriously upon the people of our country." In 1926 Sequoia National Park was more than doubled in size and now comprises 604 square miles. In 1940 an equally spectacular 710 square miles, adjoining Sequoia on the north and including the General Grant Grove, was established as its twin-Kings Canyon National Park. General Grant Tree Honors War Dead Next to the Giant Forest, Grant Grove is the best known and most accessible of the parks' 24 groves of Sequoia gigantea. The General Grant Tree, which is second in size to the General Sherman and thought by many to be even more impressive, is widely known as the Nation's Christmas Tree (opposite), at which Yuletide observances are held. In addition, it has been designated by Congress as a national shrine honoring America's war dead. Western azalea blossoms brightened the grove when I first visited the General Grant Tree. Near it lay the Fallen Monarch, a hol low sequoia log used as a stable in days when Army cavalrymen patrolled the park (page 176). Beside it towered the General Lee. As he had to many a Union general, the Vir ginian seemed to be in two places at once. Had I not seen a magnificent General Lee (Continued on page 171) * See "Saving Earth's Oldest Living Things," by Andrew H. Brown, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, May, 1951. Battle-worn General Grant Ranks Second in Command, Army of the Sequoia Only the Sherman Tree (page 167), largest of earth's living things, outstrips General Grant in size; both may be 35 centuries old. Pride of Kings Canyon Park, the great tree serves by act of Congress as a national shrine to all United States war dead. ANSCOCHROMEBY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHERB. ANTHONYSTEWART© N. G. S.