|Cal State Humboldt archive|
Monday, February 29, 2016
THE ENDURING AVENUE OF THE GIANTS
…make that “endearing…”
The Avenue of the Giants was once US 101, winding through Humboldt County’s majestic and humbling redwoods. Now, it’s the old road. About thirty miles in length, it had been the sole artery – outside the ever-present Eel River – serving the lumber and small farming communities of the area; bergs bypassed when progress gave us a new 101. Today, it is easy to miss those little points of history as we efficiently travel north or south, rocketing through the stands and groves as if it were just any old forest.
Yet, finding that old road and spending a day exploring, hiking, listening to the whispers of the woods, proves to be a day well spent.
The “Avenue” offers many places to pull out …
… and many trails to explore.
We can be dwarfed by the massive trees …
… and easily miss the subtle beauty resting on the forest floor.
Heads up: Your pictures won’t do justice.
Due to our modern day need for speed, those quaint farming and logging communities are stuck with a lousy choice: either find happiness (and a living) in service to of those of us who’ve found the old road or simply die becoming a historic place name with no ‘there’ remaining.
I’d purchased gas here once, a while back. No longer.
This rig used to haul produce between some point A and market, I suppose.
Perhaps this one, too?
Maybe from a farmstead like this one?
But the attraction – the profits – would always come from the standing timber.
Before the commercial logging boom of the 19th century, the coast was covered with redwoods from Big Sur to the Oregon border. What once accounted for 2.4 billion acres of old growth forest had, by the end of the 20th century been reduced to a mere 120,000 acres.
More would be gone had the Texas financier who succeeded in a hostile takeover of Scotia’s once-sustainably managed Pacific Lumber Company been able to cash in on the old growth remaining on the company’s land holdings back in ’65 by cutting 'em all down.
What, one must wonder, is the legacy of the man who plunders, pollutes and renders intractable harm simply so he can die with stacks of money in his account?
Thankfully, the forest is dotted and laced with groves and trails commemorating those with the wisdom and tenacity to protect the grandeur of it all. Isn’t our collective heritage better served by folks like these?
These folks understood something. Something about place.
Something about balance.
Something about beauty.
A day wandering through the forests and glades along the Avenue of the Giants will linger for quite some time. As, one hopes, will the forests.
Notes and Resources:
Here is an on-line guide to the Avenue of the Giants: http://avenueofthegiants.net/
Regarding the Humboldt Redwoods State Park: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=425
The Save the Redwoods League has taken the forefront in preserving our north coast forests. Here’s a little bit about their history: http://www.savetheredwoods.org/about-us/mission-history/
The “Profit Above All Else” mentality some may decry isn’t something particularly new. Here’s a piece about the corporate raider who, in a hostile takeover, wrested the historic Pacific Lumber Company from a sustainable, responsible operation (I recall touring the mill back in the 60s) to a poster child for short term profits and bald faced greed: http://www.multinationalmonitor.org/hyper/issues/1994/09/mm0994_07.html
Need a place to stay while visiting the area? Want to step back in history for an evening or two? Check out: http://www.benbowinn.com/about-us/hotel-history.htm Be forewarned: You may never want to return to the present…
© 2016Church of the Open Road Press