Published: May 1899

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1899 redwoods

The Redwood Forest of the Pacific Coast

By Henry Gannett
Photograph by

This story was originally published in the May 1899 issue of the magazine. It was National Geographic's first coverage of redwoods.

Redwood is so called because of its color, which, when freshly cut, is a bright, though not deep, red, changing to a brown-red when thoroughly seasoned. The wood is soft, with a rather coarse, straight grain. It is easy to work, quite as much so as our eastern white pine. It contains practically no resin, but a large amount of water, which makes the green wood so exceedingly heavy that often the lower log of a tree will sink in water.

Botanically, the redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) is a brother of the big trees (Sequoia gigantea) of the Sierra Nevada, the two species being the sole living representatives of the genus Sequoia. It is a cousin of the cedars, which it resembles in many respects, in habit and appearance, in bark and foliage. It is an immense tree, larger than the fir of Washington, but not as large as the Big Tree of the Sierra. It often attains a height exceeding 300 feet and a butt diameter of 15 feet. It rarely branches low, but almost invariably shows a straight, fluted trunk, perfectly symmetrical, rising with a slight taper for 200 feet to the lower branches. The bark is covered with thin flakes of epidermis, lying parallel to the stem. The foliage is dull green in color, fine and drooping. It is a most beautiful tree, both in form and color.

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