Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Jedediah Smith and the Redwood Forest

Jedediah Smith, 1835
Are you a fan of Jedediah Smith?  Chances are you haven't heard of him.  Smith was a frontiersman and explorer who in 1828 was the first known European to explore the area around what is now the Redwoods National Park in California. 

But he wasn't the first.  Many Native American groups have historical ties to the Redwood area, with some still living in the park area today.  Archaeological evidence shows that Native Americans were in the area as far back as 3,000 years ago.  An 1852 census showed the Yurok tribe with 55 villages and an estimated population of 2,500 in the area. 

So what's the big deal about Redwood trees?  Well, they're huge.  I mean, really really huge.  They can have branches up to five feet thick in diameter and can grow up to 378 feet tall.  They grow along the Northern California coast where they thrive in the moist, humid climate, helped along by the daily ocean fog that adds moisture to the soil.  They are so huge that their roots can't supply moisture up to the very tip tops of the trees - but their needles can pull in moisture from the air, which is only possible with the deep daily fog of California's northern coast.

Big Tree, Tiny Person
But their natural range wasn't always so restricted.  In prehistoric days they were found almost world wide, and near relatives of our modern Redwoods were on earth at the same time as the dinosaurs. 

(And yes, a redwood can be planted anywhere - even in your own backyard!  But without the humid air and daily fog they won't grow to the monstrous size that makes redwoods so famous).

John Steinbeck wrote about the redwoods in Travels with Charley  "The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It's not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time."  After looking through many photos of redwoods I agree - a picture doesn't do it justice, you really just have to see them for yourself. 

Stout Grove Socks
Surely Jedediah wore hand knit socks while exploring around the Redwood forests.  And if he had the choice, I'm sure his favorite exploring socks would have been the Stout Grove Socks, the latest in our Park Your Socks theme of our Sock of the Month series.  Inspired by the majesty and serenity of the redwoods, the Stout Grove Socks capture the subtle colors and textures of the glorious redwoods.  Check them out, and Park Your Socks!

Happy Knitting . . . . Scout

1 comment:

knitterbeader said...

I am familiar with Jedediah Smith. He even has a Park named after him way north in California. I was born in Eureka, CA (heart of the redwoods) and traveled up and down the coast through the various forests - including Stout Grove. Even though I live in Arizona now, I'll never forgot my years in northern California along with the redwoods!!!

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