The Redwoods of Humboldt County, California

Charles Theller Wilson

National Park Service, Museum Management Program

National Park Service, Museum Management Program
United States

The October 2, 1968 act creating a National Park dedicated to preserving coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), was a long time coming. As early as 1879, Interior Secretary Carl Schurz wrote coast redwoods ''will entirely disappear
unless some measure be soon taken to preserve ... them" and recommended creating preserves of ''two townships in the [northern] coast range..., and an equal area in the southern part of ...
California." In early 1908, 1,400 school children in Eureka, California petitioned the U.S. government for a Redwood National Park. C.T. Wilson's painting illustrates that early interest
in a national park dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. NPS Director Stephen Mather felt that a Redwood National Park would be another park jewel completing a Pacific Northwest national park "grand circle." That trip might take one to Mt. Rainier National Park (1899), Lassen Volcanic National Park (1916), Oregon Cave National Monument (1909) and Crater Lake National Park (1902). By 1918 the coast redwood preservation movement grew into the Save the Redwoods League, incorporated in 1920. The painting shows a manmade dirt road through a serene, cathedral-like redwood forest. The artist captured the interplay of sunlight and shadows in a typical redwood grove. This vision of redwoods came to dominate some perceptions about how the trees should be preserved. While for some that view anticipated a modest garden of groves hiding clear cuts along the Redwood Highway (U.S. Highway I 01), the park enabling legislation in 1968 and the1978 Redwood Expansion Act actually endeavored to create a self-contained ecosystem. The tension between these two visions dominated discussions about whether the institution best suited to manage and preserve coast redwoods would be state parks, the US Forest Service , or the National Park Service.


  • Title: The Redwoods of Humboldt County, California
  • Creator: Charles Theller Wilson
  • Contributor: Redwood National Park
  • Park Website: Park Website
  • National Park Service Catalog Number: REDW 1159
  • Measurements: L 131, W 96 cm
  • Material: Oil on canvas in frame
  • Date: ca 1900

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