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I first began to wonder about taller, undiscovered trees when, with Conrad L. Wirth, then Director of the National Park Service, I visited the scene of a great natural disaster: California’s Bull Creek, in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. There a single flood in 1955 caused the loss of hundreds of towering coast redwoods. Disasters of this sort had prompted Dr. Wirth to obtain, in March, 1963, a grant from the National Geographic Society to study the coast redwoods and their environment. All of us hoped that knowledge gained from this survey would help prevent similar losses in the future.

Study Sparks Search for Taller Trees

To launch the study, several of us from the Park Service and National Geographic Society made a survey trip through the redwood country and visited Rockefeller Forest along Bull Creek. There I gazed upward at the overwhelming 356.5-foot tree, considered then to be the tallest in the world.

"Do you think this really is the tallest tree?" I asked park rangers. "Could there be others even taller?"

"Perhaps," said one chap. "We just don't know what may be hidden in those valleys to the north and east. I would bet there are taller trees."

The prospect was tantalizing. I knew that the men engaged in the study would be visiting those little-known valleys in future weeks. Paul Zahl had already been assigned to range the Redwood Empire for an up-to-date article and pictures for your magazine.

"Keep your eyes open," I advised. "It would be wonderful to find a record-breaker."

They did. A few months later Paul Zahl called me from California with extraordinary news: "I think I've found the world's tallest tree," he said.

Dr. Zahl had come upon a great grove with a number of contenders for the record. Preliminary measurements indicated heights well over 360 feet. These trees stood beside Redwood Creek on an Arcata Redwood Company tract. Professional surveyors soon would be making final, definitive measurements. I promptly caught a plane to see for myself.

Our first business was to notify Howard Libbey of Arcata. Like other farsighted lumbermen, Mr. Libbey and his associates had been cooperating with our redwoods study.

"Mr. Libbey," I said, "we believe that your company owns the tallest tree in the world—the Mount Everest of all living things."

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