Random Facts about Mariposa and Calaveras Trees
THE BIG TREES OF CALIFORNIA
There are several groves of Big Trees in California, the most famous of which are the Calaveras grove and the Mariposa grove. The Calaveras grove occupies what may be described as a band or belt 3,200 feet long and 700 in width. It is between two slopes, in a depression in the mountains, and has a stream winding through it, which runs dry in the summer time. In this grove the Big Trees number ninety-three, besides a great many smaller ones, which would be considered very large if it were not for the presence of these monarchs of the forest. Several of the Big Trees have fallen since the grove was discovered, one has been cut down, and one had the bark stripped from it to the height 116 feet from the ground. The highest now standing is the "Keystone State," 325 feet high and 45 feet in circumference; and the largest and finest is the "Empire State." There are four trees over 300 feet in height, and 40 to 61 feet in circumference. The tree which was cut down occupied five men twenty-two days, which would be at the rate of one man 110 days, or nearly four months' work, not counting Sundays. Pump augers were used for boring through the giant. After the trunk was severed from the stump it required five men with immense wedges for three days to topple it over. The bark was eighteen inches thick. The tree would have yielded more than 1,000 cords of four-foot wood and 100 cords of bark, or more than 1,100 cords in all. On the stump of the tree was built a house, thirty feet in diameter, which the Rev. A.H. Tevis, an observant traveler, says contains room enough in square feet, if it were the right shape, for a parlor 12x10 feet, a dining-room 10x12, a kitchen 10x12, two bed-rooms 10 feet square each, a pantry 4x8, two clothes-presses 1-1/2 feet deep and 4 feet wide, and still have a little to spare! The Mariposa grove is part of a grant made by Congress to be set apart for public use, resort and recreation forever. The area of the grant is two miles square and comprises two distinct groves about half a mile apart. The upper grove contains 365 trees, of which 154 are over fifteen feet in diameter, besides a great number of smaller ones. The average height of the Mariposa trees is less than that of the Calaveras, the highest Mariposa tree being 272 feet; but the average size of the Mariposa is greater than that of Calaveras. The "Grizzly Giant," in the lower grove, is 94 feet in circumference and 31 feet in diameter; it has been decreased by burning. Indeed, the forests at times present a somewhat unattractive appearance, as, in the past, the Indians, to help them in their hunting, burned off the chaparral and rubbish, and thus disfigured many of these splendid trees by burning off nearly all the bark. The first branch of the "Grizzly Giant" is nearly two hundred feet from the ground and is six feet in diameter. The remains of a tree, now prostrate, indicate that it had reached a diameter of about forty feet and a height of 400 feet; the trunk is hollow and will admit of the passage of three horsemen riding abreast. There are about 125 trees of over forty feet in circumference. Besides these two main groves there are the Tolumne grove, with thirty big trees; the Fresno grove, with over eight hundred spread over an area of two and a half miles long and one to two broad; and the Stanislaus grove, the Calaveras group, with from 700 to 800. There should be named in this connection the petrified forest near Calitoga, which contains portions of nearly one hundred distinct trees of great size, scattered over a tract of three or four miles in extent: the largest of this forest is eleven feet in diameter at the base and sixty feet long. It is conjectured that these prostrate giants were silicified by the eruption of the neighboring Mount St. Helena, which discharged hot alkaline waters containing silica in solution. This petrified forest is considered one of the great natural wonders of California.