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The Men Who Felled California’s Giant Redwoods

Vintage Photos | April 21, 2016

In the 1800s, when Euro-Americans came to the west, they needed raw materials to setup their homes. As companies struggled to keep up with the furious pace of progress, commercial logging quickly became the top manufacturing in the west.

This collection of photos from 1915 show lumberjacks working among the giant redwoods of Humboldt County, California when tree logging was at its peak.

Lumberjacks working among the redwoods in California. At that time, redwood forest covered more than 2,000,000 acres of the California coast.
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Photo: A.W. Ericson

Lumberjacks in northwest California. Photo taken by Swedish photographer A.W. Ericson.
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Photo: A.W. Ericson

Men dwarfed by the tree's sheer size.
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Photo: A.W. Ericson

Logging on Vance's Mad River. The man in the center of the picture shows the height of the tree trunks in comparison to him.
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Photo: A.W. Ericson

A team of horses pull a number of logs along after the redwoods have been felled.
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Photo: A.W. Ericson

The loggers used axes, saws, and other early methods of felling the trees down. The rapid improvement of technology in the 20th century allowed more trees to be cut down in less time. Transportation also improved, making the task of moving the massive logs easier.
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Photo: A.W. Ericson

Loggers working in the densely forested northern California area, 1915
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Photo: A.W. Ericson

Men standing on top of a giant redwood.
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Photo: A.W. Ericson

After many decades of unobstructed logging, serious efforts toward conservation of these giant trees began. In 1918, the Save-the-Redwoods League was founded to preserve remaining old-growth redwoods, resulting in the establishment of Prairie Creek, Del Norte Coast, and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks among others. By the time Redwood National Park was created in 1968, nearly 90% of the original redwood trees had been logged.
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Photo: A.W. Ericson

A team of oxes help out in the first phase of the logging process.
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Photo: A.W. Ericson

Today, the Redwood National and State Parks combined contain only 133,000 acres of redwood forest. In addition to the redwoods, the parks also preserve other indigenous flora, fauna, cultural resources, grassland prairie, some portions of rivers and streams, and 37 miles of pristine coastline.

H/T Dailymail

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