In the News - Friday, September
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
120th BIRTHDAY, SEQUOIA!
names: The origins of Sequoia
the world’s tallest and most massive trees came
to be known by the name Sequoia is an enduring mystery.
The earliest written description of them is by Father
Juan Crespi on October 10, 1769.
Crespi was the diarist for the Portolà
mission, the first European expedition by land to
explore the coastal regions of California. Encountering
the astonishing trees near Monterey Bay he named them
Palo Colorado, or Red Trees.
These coastal redwoods were designated
Taxodium sempervirens, or evergreen cypress, when
samples sent to England were examined in 1823. Later,
in 1847, German botanist Stephen Endlicher renamed
them Sequoia sempervirens, the name by which
they are still referred.
By then their cousins, the Sierra redwoods,
had been “discovered” by members of the
Joseph Walker expedition of 1833. The trees they described
were in the Merced and Tuolumne groves of present-day
Yosemite National Park.
In 1858 Hale Tharp came upon a large
grove of the most massive trees in the world while
grazing cattle in what would become Sequoia National
Park. When Tharp showed the grove to naturalist John
Muir, the delighted Muir named it “Giant Forest.”
Botanists examining samples of the Sierran
redwoods soon found it evident that they were a species
apart from their coastal relatives. With egos,
politics, and glory at stake, no less than 13 different
botanical names were assigned to these remarkable
works of nature.
English botanists preferred Wellingtonia gigantea,
after the Duke of Wellington. Americans countered
with such names as Americus gigantea, Washingtonia
Californica, and the like before settling on
Sequoia giganteum, which later became Sequoiadendron
giganteum, as it is known today.
So why Sequoia? Though disputed, popular
theory is that Endlicher named the trees for a remarkable
Native American who between 1809 and 1821 had single-handedly
developed a system of writing that gave the gift of
literacy to his people. On documents, he signed the
characters for S si Qua ya, but the common English
spelling of his name is Sequoyah.
Sequoyah did not speak, read, or write
English, but devised a system in which a symbol, or
character, would represent each of the 84 syllables
of the Cherokee language. Within a few short years
almost every Cherokee could read, and a bilingual
newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, was founded that
exists to this day.
Endlicher left no record or reference
to why he chose the name Sequoia, but Sequoyah’s
achievement was hailed worldwide, and perhaps the
botanist chose to honor him. In 1890, when the nation’s
second national park was formed in the southern Sierra
Nevada, the name Sequoia was chosen because of the
groves of Big Trees the park was charged with protecting.
Larson, who served at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National
Parks from 1993 to 2001, has been named the new superintendent
at Sitka National Historical Park, Alaska. He officially
assumes that park’s top job on September 26.
While the Larsons were living in Three
Rivers, sons Brian and Kyle graduated from Three Rivers
School. Brian is currently working for ESPN in Connecticut
while Kyle is seeking a Ph.D. in math at the University
Wife Roberta, who most recently with
her husband was a resident of Gustavus, Alaska, will
relocate to the historic community of Sitka.
Randy, a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, has
a NPS career spanning 26 years that also included
stints at nine other parks in addition to his eight
years at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
His last position here was as supervisory park ranger.
He departed the local parks in 2001 to take the chief
ranger position at Padre Island National Seashore.
Randy said recently that as a youth he
was already thinking about the possibilities of a
family took driving vacations every year, and from
a very young age I learned what the national park
experience was all about,” he said. “Those
trips defined my appreciation for the preservation
of our natural, historical and cultural heritage –
all of which are important to Sitka National Historical
Larson’s new task will be to turn
around a park that has recently had its superintendent
removed and has been known for its low morale. Earlier
this year, an internal report stated that of the 16
permanent employees, 13 had left or were making plans
On May 5, prior to the start of the busy
summer season, Larson replaced the former superintendent,
Mary Miller, on an interim basis. His former position
was that of chief ranger at Glacier Bay National Park
Larson said he is looking forward to
his new post at Sitka.
our urban setting and our cooperating partnerships
with key local stakeholders are significant to me,”
Larson said. “The sharing of the history and
traditions of Sitka National Historical Park with
the local community and visitors is enhanced by our
partnerships. I fully intend to expand on past work
to build stronger ties with tribal organizations and
Sitka’s cultural museums and associations.”
Sitka National Historical Park was preserved
as a federal park for the Sitka community in 1890.
In order to further protect the hallowed ground of
the Battle of 1804, the park was formally designated
Sitka National Monument by President William Howard
Taft in 1910.
The park was redesignated Sitka National
Historical Park by Congress in 1972 when the Russian
Bishops House was acquired.
brief... (Sequoia edition)
Fire growth causes area closures
It’s the prescribed fire that’s
like the Energizer bunny. Started by a lightning strike
in July it keeps growing and growing. On Wednesday,
Interagency officials announced that the creeping
complex of blazes had charred 7,887 acres; 4,798 acres
in Sequoia National Forest (including the 18-acre
Marvin Fire) and 3,089 in Kings Canyon National Park
north of Cedar Grove.
Warmer temperatures in the weekend forecast
will increase fire activity; visitors to the Cedar
Grove area should anticipate significant periods of
Closures remain in effect for the Don
Cecil and Rattlesnake trails in Kings Canyon National
Park; closures are also in effect in Sequoia National
Forest between Horse Corral Meadow and the south side
of Highway 180 and from Boulder Creek east of the
boundary with Kings Canyon National Park.
National parks welcome new citizens
Twenty National Parks across the country
conducted a series of citizenship ceremonies between
September 13 and 24 in celebration of Constitution
Day (September 17) and Citizenship Week (September
27 to October 1). The theme for the ceremonies was
“Embrace Citizenship: Experience America through
Your National Parks.”
On Wednesday, Sept. 15, a group of 32
Central Valley residents took their citizenship oath
beneath the towering branches of the General Grant
Tree in Kings Canyon National Park. The new citizens
hailed from 13 nations: 17 from Mexico, three from
India, and two from the Philippines Also represented
were China, El Salvador, Lebanon, South Africa, the
United Kingdom, Taiwan, Japan, Iran, Guatemala and
Alternatives available for Kings Canyon concessions
With the Kings Canyon current concessions
contract scheduled to end October 31, 2011, the Park
Service is preparing a prospectus for a new contract
and is seeking public comments on some preliminary
The restaurant in the Grant Grove complex
is in need of a total rehab project so alternatives
are being proposed.
In terms of lodging, either current accommodations
would be maintained or 20 new tent cabins could be
added. There are also alternatives being proposed
that would maintain current employee housing at Wormwood
despite its substandard condition.
Park planners are requiring that all
comments be received by October 23, 2010. For more
information or to make comments online log onto: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/seki.
Comments may also be mailed to Superintendent,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Attn: Kings
Canyon Prospectus Preliminary Alternatives, 47050
Generals Highway, Three Rivers, CA 93271.
of a man and his work
Life and Images
Jackie McDougall Weiner
glossy, hardcover book belongs both on the coffee
table and in the research stacks. Timely Exposures
is a pictorial album and a biography of the photographer.
The book chronicles the life of C.C.
Curtis, 19th century photographer and Kaweah Colony
member. As a result of his association with the controversial
Colony, many of the Kaweah Colony photos in circulation
today were taken by Charles Clifford Curtis.
In the book, there are “four new
Kaweah Colony photographs and a Traver map of the
Colony office,” said the author Jackie Weiner.
In fact, in 2009, more than 50 glass plate negatives
and several rarely before seen Curtis photographs
were discovered, adding yet another dimension to Jackie’s
dream of publishing this memoir.
The author is a former ranger at Sequoia
and Kings Canyon National Parks, where she worked
for 15 years. Her research began when she became curious
about the lumbering of giant sequoias.
In addition to documenting life in the
Kaweah Colony, the book contains dozens of C.C. Curtis
photos that bear witness to the assault on the giant
sequoia groves by lumbermen. There is a nearly frame-by-frame
account of the cutting of the General Noble Tree in
This is the tree that the following year
was on display at the Chicago World’s Fair.
It was hollowed out, cut into 50 sections, and hauled
down the mountain by wagon, then shipped to Chicago
by train, where it was reassembled. The remains of
this giant sequoia are today called the Chicago Stump.
It is located in the Converse Basin.
And speaking of stumps, at one point,
C.C. Curtis and his wife Maria lived in their home
and studio that was built on top of a felled sequoia
The book contains more than 125 black-and-white
photographs. It is currently available at park visitor
centers and from the Tulare County Historical Society.
i g n s
one may imagine, the sign shop in Sequoia and Kings
Canyon National Parks is a bustling place. There are
road signs, and signs in parking lots and campgrounds
and signs posted at strategic points along the parks’
vast network of trails.
are signs at trailheads, visitor attractions, entrance
stations, and historic structures. There are street
signs, and signs are also needed for resource protection
(Don’t Feed the Bears!); specialty events; plaques,
awards, and gifts; and exhibits, displays, and other
then there are the most photographed signs of all:
the park entrance signs, such as Sequoia National
Park’s Indian head sign and Kings Canyon National
Park’s beautiful granite and wood sign. The
sign shop also maintains these thousands of signs,
the majority of which are outside in the elements
where temperatures might reach over 100 degrees or
Steve Esson was the parks’ sign
maker from 1995 to 2010; previously, he was a sign
maker at Yosemite National Park since 1985. Under
Steve’s leadership, many sign projects were
completed including, in 2009, the new signs at every
trailhead in the Mineral King area of Sequoia (special
pictorial of the new trailhead signs only in the September
24, 2010, print edition).
same sign design will soon be at every trailhead in
Sequoia-Kings Canyon. These signs are a collaborative
effort between the sign shop and the Division of Interpretation.
also designed a seat with a granite top that may someday
be incorporated into each sign structure. Backpackers
could then have the luxury of comfortably sitting
to load and unload their packs.
After 25 years, Steve, who resides in
Three Rivers, retired from the Park Service on May
31, 2010, stating this was “the greatest job
I’ve ever had.” These days, Marcy Frazier
is the parks’ sign maker. She will carry on
the standard of excellence that was set by the sign
makers who came before and set the bar high for those
who will follow.
Mona Fox Selph
The long hot summer is over, and that
means it is time for one of my favorite things: The
Green Home Tour, part of Three Rivers Environmental
Weekend. Every year, I have been inspired by the creativity
of the architects, builders, and that of the homeowners
themselves, such as the driftwood door archways in
one of the homes last year.
As an artist, I am especially appreciative
of the colors and textures integrated into the designs
throughout, the unusual materials, the play of light,
the thoughtful use of space, and the individual qualities
of each that speaks to who the owners are and their
way of life. Each home was designed by a different
architect, and two were owner-built; the other three
were constructed by Pete Crandall and company.
As part of the American Solar Energy
Society’s annual home tour, each of the homes
must have either passive or active solar features.
In addition, the homes on our tours make use of many
other green features to reduce the carbon footprint
for a better and more sustainable world.
Crandall Construction uses a lot of natural and recycled
materials: rammed earth, natural stone, telephone
poles, wine tanks and used wood, and hand-forged metal
details, etc. Somehow it all comes together in the
most beautiful compositions.
The homes on this year’s tour use
many different approaches for energy efficiency, including
thick walls and insulation, insulated concrete forms,
overhangs, heated floors (solar and otherwise), photovoltaic
panels (owned or leased), and solar and on-demand
water heaters. One incorporates a cooling tower, an
Old World desert concept used to push hot air from
the interior up and out in a sort of Venturi effect.
Nearly all have vegetable gardens.
One of the homes is the Opie-Burleigh
Glass House, which won Sunset magazine’s
Small Space Award this year. What makes it
especially “green” is its small size,
small amount of disruption of the environment, and
lack of waste in construction.
It also uses hydronic radiant heating,
photovoltaic electricity, and solar water heating.
It was designed as a kit and shipped to the site for
In the past, our tours have supported
Habitat for Humanity’s green building fund and
Sierra Nevada Alliance for TCCRG. This year, proceeds
will go to the Sierra Club legal defense fund to promote
responsible growth rather than sprawl.
The cost is $15 per person or $25 per
couple. The two tour groups will leave from the Valley
Oak Credit Union parking lot at noon and 1 p.m. in
car caravans. For reservations, call 561-4676.
TO MY FOOD COLUMN
Tina St. John
This is the fourth installment in a continuing series
about the author’s two-week visit last month
to the renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School in rural
County Cork, Ireland. Previous installments may be
found in the Newspaper Archives on this site: September
3, 10, 17, 2010).
* * *
Even though it was summertime in Ireland when
I attended the school, the weather was still on the
cool side. I remember one day in particular, the temperatures
had hit an all time high of 70 degrees. One of the
cooks had commented to me how hot it was.
“Hot?” I politely suggested to her that
perhaps she hadn’t experienced hot weather yet.
I found it to be ideal as it was never
cold but rather cool. Only one day was it misty, which
turned to rain later on that afternoon. However, because
of the mild weather, soup on the menu was a common
and most welcomed dish.
I learned the value of a good stock,
chicken or vegetable. Being a vegetarian, I was happy
to know that a well-prepared vegetable stock can be
just as delicious as any chicken stock. However, a
good stock is an excellent base that lends to a straightforward
pot of soup.
Another thing I learned about soup is
how many ways you can serve it with presentation and
types of breads. The possibilities are endless and
when included, make all the difference in enjoying
For instance, placing a serving in a
ceramic bowl of any size, whether serving single portions
or a larger quantity, makes the soup tempting. Think
Place the bowl on a old wooden cutting
board with some rustic breads, such as Ballymaloe
Brown Bread or even some savory scones. Place a handful
of rosemary sprigs alongside the bread knife.
Remember the small detailed touches of
beauty suggest that you as the cook have put thought
and heart into your meal. Doesn’t that sound
With the winter months on the horizon,
soup is on.