California’s Top 10 Environmental Disasters: #8 – Converse Basin
If you have ever experienced the majesty of giant redwoods in Northern California, you understand the peace and wisdom that these giants represent. Walking through a forest where these trees reign is more than a hike through the woods; it is a spiritual experience that can only be matched by other natural features of equal age or older.
What makes Converse Basin a tragedy of epic proportions is that the Sanger Lumber Co. came into the basin in the 1880s and clear-cut the area, hacking down some 2,500 of the world’s largest trees in the name of profit. Here’s the kicker: There are reports that the operation — which turned giants, not only centuries but millennia old, into stumps the size of houses — wasn’t profitable and that fewer than half of the felled trees actually made it to the lumber mills.
Converse Basin is still touted as a good place to hike. Boole Tree, named for Sanger’s general manager Frank Boole, who spared the tree in the 1880s, stands like a lone soldier overlooking the field of his fallen comrades. At 269 feet tall, it is ranked as the eighth-tallest sequoia in the world, and it has the largest base circumference at 112 feet.
Hikers may also visit the former site of General Noble (when a tree has a name, you know that it is important in some aspect of size, girth or age). In this case, General Noble is believed to have been 300 feet tall and 20 feet wide at the base. It was sent to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1895. Only a base 20 feet high, known as the Chicago Stump, remains.