1881 Redwood Map
1884 Redwood Map
Google Earth 1939
of Remnant Groves
Proof from the Ground
Secondary Growth Redwoods Today
Classic Reforest Project
Redwoods in History
Slides and Earthflows
History of East Bay Logging
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How this web page began
In August 2015,
I found online this "10th Census of the United States" Map
"Distribution of the Genera Thuya, Taxodium and Sequoia in North America" by C.S. Sargent, 1884.
This dark green area defines the wide-spread series of Coast Redwood Forest Groves,
which had already been harvested between 1830-1853.
Here is the original source
In April 2016
, I found with Google Earth using "
," 1939 aerial photography showing the locaions of these groves throughout the East Bay.
These two findings confirm the Redwood Forests of the SF East Bay were thousands of years old and over 200-300+ feet tall that existed for millions of years
up to 162-187 years ago, when all were harvested including the stumps, but the
root systems and stump holes survived as scars
as seen in 1939.
In April 2014, I first found the
First Census of the U.S. Forests
I have looked through hundreds of books on Redwood Trees and Forests of America, but they ALL exclude both of these maps.
Here is an example.
Initially, I was very skeptical about this old growth Redwood forest belt;
how reliable was this map? who drew it; why have I not seen or heard of this vast area before?
Books and articles completely omit these maps. Local residents like myself have only been told of the Redwoods of the Oakland Hills and Canyon/Moraga, but in reality this Redwood Forest was much, much larger - beyond comprehension, really. Every time I tell this story, I get emotional and the receiver is stunned, indeed, to the extent of unbelieving until they see the
Here are the answers
. Drawn by one of the most famous American Botanists,
Charles (C.S.) Sargent
director of the First Forest Census of the United States
; he was also author of
Garden and Forest
: A Journal of Horticulture, Landscape Art, and Forestry
(1888-1897), the first American journal devoted to horticulture, botany, landscape design and preservation, national and urban park development, scientific forestry, and the conservation of forest resources; he was the founding director of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. In my opinion there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of this map. However,
that I have read so far, including
Sequoia: The Heralded Tree In American Art and Culture
by Lori Vermaas 2003, show the California Redwoods of the East Bay on their maps! She researched & compiled for 10 years all kinds of facts (including her dissertation) before publishing this book.
We now know where many of the groves were, thanks to Google Earth Historical Imagery, described below, available since 2011.
What did these mixed evergreen Redwood forests look like?
Sequoia and Its History
, Asa Gray in
The American Naturalist
, Vol. 6, No. 10 (Oct., 1872), pp. 577-596, Published by the University of Chicago Press for The American Society of Naturalists. Stable URL:
Commonly associated trees of Sequoia are
(Pinus Lambertiana and P. ponderosa),
(Abies grandis and A. amabilis) and the
(Calocedrus [Libocedrus] decurrens) - even though they do not reach the size of sequoia, they wholly overpower the Sequoias in number
MegaFlooding and Mega Landslides of the East Bay changed our valleys, hillsides and hilltops
: William Mero
"By 1860 the redwood forests were gone."
(click on the link entitled "MegaFlood and Megadrought," then read at the 12th paragraph down, starting with "Another environmental blow..."). "Clear cutting of the redwood forests, extinction of the native vegetation and overgrazing led to larger runoffs producing increased erosion, debris flows and landslides."
Among other facts he acknowledges the Redwood forest "blanketed the headwaters of
Las Trampas Creek
, an important tributary of Walnut Creek." Most local people would never believe the Redwoods were this far inland. Indeed, this redwood belt was unique in all the world, because it was the furthest inland away from the Coast than any other.
He continues... Persistant heaving rains through January 1862 of just under 50 inches, caused on the newly exposed hillsides of Contra Costa, stripped of its native grasses and redwood forests, unprecedented runoff eroding millions of tons of soil from the Walnut Creek watershed. Subsequently, a horrendous three year
from 1863 through 1865 "permanently changed the economic face of California, the winter wheat crop failed leaving the plowed fields dusty and barren. The cattle industry in Contra Costa nearly vanished after three years of extreme drought."
Our Lost Heritage:
These Redwood Trees, the tallest on the planet, are a National symbol of the USA, a symbol of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Yes, it is a tragedy they were all harvested including the stumps in the earlier years that were burned for firewood. During most of the logging period of 1830-1853 there existed no laws, and California did not become a State until 1850.
These trees were a source of survival and a livelihood in a world of subsistence living and very hard living conditions. People were under constant threats of attack from wildlife such as black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, wolves, rattlesnakes. It was a true Wild Wild West.
I have pasted just a small sample of some of the 1939 aerial photos, below, from all corners of Contra Costa and some from northern Alameda County. The rest of the bay area is not yet included in the 1939 aerial images on Google Earth.
With these 1939 aerial photos, we now know the 1884 map is accurate at least regarding the S.F. East Bay, being able to see remnant tree growth patterns that were etched into the ground, like scars, that survived between harvesting and 1939. In other words, these patterns survived about 100 years' time. Time also wiped out some traces through mudslides, erosion and weathering.
These grove growth patterns spread out over several acres each, one species per grove. The forest did not consist of continuous stands, but instead consisted of innumerable number of contiguous groves. We in the East Bay grew up thinking that we inherited vast open grasslands with wildflowers, but these facts that only the areas between the groves could have been grassland.
Dynamite & Black powder
: Further reading of John Muir's works, I find another reason remnant stumps may not have been found in our bygone East Bay forests. The loggers used
(stumping powder) starting in 1867 to blow the stumps up & out of the ground after felling each tree at the 8-12 foot level.
This further explains what formed the white circular "nodes" in the b &w google earth 1939 photos. The large holes in the ground designate the dynamited stumps; the larger the node, the larger the trunk was.
My measurements with google earth's ruler to roughly measure the actual trunks' diameters at ground level of between 10 and 50 feet must therefore be adjusted downward, subtracting approximately 10 feet in total diameter, 5 feet on each side. These are of course only educated guesses.
A 10 foot wide hole in the ground would still reflect a trunk diameter of at least 5 feet.
: I have confirmed the fact that Redwood forests were harvested to not only sell lumber, but to make room for hayfields, which I believe to be these designs pictured below, commonly found in the Google Earth 1939 aerial photos of the East Bay.
Diablo Rd and Camino Tassajara, Danville, CA.
1939 Aerial Photos
from Google Earth
For the first photo, I chose the farthest southeast part of the 1939 imagery, which is the Vasco Rd Livermore area - We see a spectacular bounty of forest groves not seen today except in places like Yosemite, Muir Woods, and other virgin areas. Every four of the major tree species' petrified root systems and stumps are represented here, as well as some of the skid roads that were created when the logs were pulled by animals to the nearest ports.
: between Vasco Rd to the right and Morgan Territory on the left with Dagnino Rd in the middle.
In all corners of Contra Costa County and Northern Alameda County, we find these same patterns. All cities and most neighborhoods. By 1939 some of these patterns have been erased by weather, exposure, rains, mudslides, floods. We see enough evidence throughout the East Bay that our only conclusion is that there was a Yosemite-like environment here in the East Bay and must have been a glorious sight to behold, indeed!
, Antioch, Benicia, Berkeley, Bethel Island, Blackhawk, Brentwood, Byron, Canyon, Clyde, Castro Valley, Clayton, Concord, Crockett, Danville, Diablo, Discovery Bay, Dublin, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, Knightsen, Lafayette, Livermore, Martinez, Moraga, Oakland, Oakley, Orinda, Pinole, Pittsburg, Pleasanton, Port Costa, Richmond, Rodeo, Rossmoor, San Ramon, San Pablo, Saranap, Sunol, Walnut Creek, West Pittsburg (Bay Point)
Alamo's Green Valley between Stone Valley and Diablo Rd:
Alamo's Roundhill Country Club:
: Granite Dr
Alamo: Green Valley and East
Alamo: Green Valley North and East
Alamo: Green Valley Rd, end of
Antioch: Chadbourne Rd
Antioch: Briones Valley
Antioch: James Donlan
Antioch: Dallas Ranch
Antioch: Briones Valley
Walnut Creek: Bob Pond
Walnut Creek: Blackwood
Tassajara Rd, east of Danville: Looking Eastward
West Pittsburg (Bay Point): Shore Acres
West Pittsburg (Bay Point): Shore Acres
Bay Point: Shore Acres
Bay Point: Loftus Rd
Walnut Creek: Saranap area
Concord in the Clyde Area, Port Chicago:
: Like most barren hills we see throughout the East Bay today, they were once dense ancient forest land, but the grounds dried up after harvesting and nothing, except a few Oak trees, have naturally taken the place of the once mighty Redwoods.
Pleasant Hill: Main Library...
: Boyd Rd and PH Rd
Pleasant Hill: Freeway 680
: Contra Costa Blvd north
: Behind Miramonte
Orinda: El Toyonal
Orinda: Bear Oaks Ln
Orinda: Wilder South
Orinda: Sleepy Hollow
Orinda: Orinda Downs
Orinda: Bear Oaks Ln
Orinda: Bear Creek to Sleepy Hollow
Martinez: Palm Ave
Martinez: Old Orchard
Martinez: Morello Hts
Martinez: Center Ave
Martinez: Blum Rd
Mt. Diablo Valley
Moraga: St Marys
Moraga: Valley Hill
Moraga: Sanders Dr
Moraga-Danville Border via Bollinger Cyn
Moraga: Camino Pablo at Knoll
Moraga: Camino Pablo at Miller
Lafayette: Reliez Valley
Pleasant Hill: Geary and Pleasant Hill Rd
Bay Point: Willow Pass & Evora Rd at Hwy 4
Livermore: Vasco Rd
Discovery Bay: These rectangular shaped areas are Hay Farms.
Concord: Sun Terrace