The Neatest Little Paper Ever Read ®

Issue 974



by Janet Spencer

Come along with Tidbits as we look at famous tree stumps!


• In 1853, a hunter in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California stumbled upon the largest trees on Earth, a previously unknown species now called sequoia. Gold miners who came to see the spectacle decided to cut the biggest of the big trees down. It took them three weeks to cut through the bottom of the 300-foot tall tree, but on June 27, 1853, it fell.

• The tree, dubbed The Mammoth, was revealed to be 1,244 years old. The stump measured 93 feet wide. It was turned into a dance floor. A bowling alley was built inside the log. A hotel erected nearby brought in tourists, who attended concerts, lectures, picnics, and weddings on top of the stump. A cross-section of the tree was sent to the World’s Fair in London.

• Logging companies planned to cut down more sequoias, but public outcry over the death of one of the world’s largest trees resulted in the formation of the nation’s first national park, Yosemite. Today the stump of the Mammoth Tree still remains, located in Calaveras Big Trees State Park.


• A bald cypress tree located in Longwood, Florida, was estimated to be 3,500 years old, making it the fifth oldest tree in the world. It was the biggest bald cypress in the U.S., as well as being the largest tree of any species east of the Mississippi River, standing 125 feet tall, with a trunk diameter of 17.5 feet and a circumference of 35 feet. The tree, named The Senator, was already an ancient tree during the time of Jesus Christ. It was already old when Colosseum was being constructed.

• In modern days, The Senator was a popular tourist attraction, with a boardwalk leading directly to the tree. On January 16, 2012, local resident Sara Barnes hid inside the hollow trunk of the tree in order to light her meth pipe. It was dark, and she lit some papers on fire so she could see what she was doing. The Senator caught on fire. Rather than call for help, Sara took pictures of the fire and videotaped its progress as the flames spread upward through the chimney-like trunk. By the time firefighters arrived, it was far too late to save the tree.

• The fire was first thought to have been started by a lightning strike, but Sara Barnes showed the pictures and video around to her friends, one of whom turned her in. She was sentenced to 250 hours of community service, ordered to pay $12,000 in restitution, and given a 30-month suspended sentence provided she abided by terms of her probation. She failed to do so and went to jail in 2016.

• The charred stump of The Senator now stands 25 feet tall. In October 2013, county officials allowed a select group of artists and woodworkers to create works of art for the county from the blackened remains of the tree.


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