"The Mammoth Tree Grove"

Calaveras County, California


Big Tree Engravings
by the German Artist
Edward Vischer

Left: Title page engraving by Edward Vischer, "The Mammoth Tree Grove," 1862.

The Mammoth Tree Grove is located in Calaveras County, California. In 1852 it became the first big tree grove to be "discovered" by Europeans and ever since has been a major tourist attraction. It was protected in 1931 with the founding of the Calaveras Big Tree State Park.

The German artist Edward Vischer (1808 – 1879) produced a folio album (left) of the big trees in 1862. He wrote:

"A pilgrimage to these shadowy shrines affords most soothing consolation. Behold the evergreen summits of trees that have withstood the storms of more than three thousand years!

Gaze on the ponderous and almost imperishable remains of their sires! While lost in wonder and admiration the turmoil of earthly strife seems to vanish."

Edward Vischer (Claremont Colleges).

Mammoth Grove Hotel, Grounds,
and General View of the Forest, 1861

Two Guardsmen, at the Entrance to the Grove
Height 300 ft each, circumference 65 & 69 ft

Entrance to the Grove, arriving from Murphy's
The principal Avenue of the Grove

Hercules, swept down by December gale 1861
Height while standing 320 ft

The Three Graces
Height 295 ft

Mother of the Forest
Stripped of her bark in 1855

Mother and Son
Height 315 & 302 ft

Hermit (centre) and the Burnt Tree
Height 318 ft, circumference at base 60 ft

The Orphans, at the Entrance of the Grove
from Sierra Nevada


Left: "The Discovery Stump," 2007,
Calaveras Big Trees State Park.

While hunting in 1852, Augustus T. Dowd discovered a grove of immense trees which became known as the Mammoth Tree Grove. Several stockholders of the Union Water Company who had employed Dowd as a hunter developed a plan to display a piece of the largest of these trees in New York and other cities. Many people, however, were outraged at the cutting of the tree, Dowd among them. The Discovery tree was felled and sections of its bark and a slab of its cross section were shipped to New York City but the promotion was a commercial failure. Back in California, the remaining stump and log became a tourist attraction as a dance floor, a pavillion, and a bowling alley. Today the stump continues to be an attraction in what is now known as the Calaveras North Grove. While it is a testament to the longevity of the species that the stump and log are still survive after more than 150 years, had the giant tree not been felled, it would still be living.

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