This Day in History… October 2, 1968

U.S. #4378 – Redwood National Park is home to “Hyperion,” the tallest known living tree. Discovered in 2006, it stands over 379 feet tall and is estimated to contain over 18,000 cubic feet of wood.

Redwood National Park Established

On October 2, 1968, Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation establishing Redwood National Park.

Redwoods are some of the world’s tallest trees and are unique to the California and Oregon coasts. For centuries, Native Americans used these giant trees, which were easily split, to build their houses and boats. Jedediah Smith, the first American to travel up the California coast and see the redwoods, called them “the noblest trees” he’d ever seen.

U.S. #4063 – First Day Cover honoring California’s redwoods as the tallest trees in the world.

In 1850, discovery of gold in the Trinity River spurred a California gold rush. Miners flocked to California to strike it rich, but few did. When their mining dreams fell through, many of these men found a new business venture – logging the giant redwoods for booming development of San Francisco and other fast-growing cities. After several decades of extensive logging, the once 2 million acre forest had shrunk substantially.

By the 1910s, conservationists grew concerned over the disappearing forest and sought to preserve the trees that remained. The Boone and Crockett Club created the Save-the-Redwoods League in 1918 to further their cause. In less than a decade they helped to establish four state parks to protect the redwoods. They’d hoped to create a national park as well, but the high demand for lumber during World War II and increased construction that followed delayed this.

Finally, after intense lobbying, the bill was signed and Redwood National Park was dedicated on October 2, 1968. Additional land was added in the 1970s and the national and state parks were merged in 1994.

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