Perhaps you know me. My name is the Railroad Tree, and I’m a giant sequoia who stands near Beaver Creek, along the Bradley Grove Trail. I’m surrounded by over a hundred young sequoias – thanks to a logging company, the Bradley family, and the boy who watered trees. This is my story.
For over 1,000 years, I lived a quiet life surrounded by enormous sugar pine trees. Seventy years ago, in the 1950s, my peaceful neighborhood was invaded with humans who hacked down the sugar pines and built a railroad. Lush, old-growth sugar pines trees crashed to the ground and were loaded onto railroad cars and carted off. The land was stripped, barren and pitted with massive stumps, but new life began to sprout immediately.
Like all giant sequoias, I’ve made millions of seeds over the centuries but never expected many to grow up. The destruction of the sugar pines suddenly changed everything. All along the railroad grade, my seeds dropped onto exposed mineral soil with plenty of sunlight and water. With everything they needed to thrive, hundreds of seedlings began to grow beneath my feet in a veritable nursery of young sequoias.
In 1954, the logging stopped, and the nearby trees of the South Grove were saved. The very next spring, two tree-loving humans hauled a trailer down to the banks of Beaver Creek and lived there through the summer: Owen and Adrienne Bradley. Although mature giant sequoias are hardy enough to withstand fire, Owen always worried about fire danger. I watched as he picked out a wet meadow not far from me where he thought my offspring might survive if the South Grove was ever lost to a catastrophic fire. Owen Bradley and his young grandson Mel spent many summers digging holes and transplanting seedlings from my “nursery area” to the emerging Bradley Grove. I watched the boy hauling water to 200 giant sequoias for summer after summer as the baby grove grew stronger. The boy had patience, perseverance, and a love of watching things grow.
I’ve resumed my quiet life near Beaver Creek, gazing down at over 150 of my youngsters. I’m grateful for humans like the Bradley family who believed that the forest must be preserved for future generations. Perhaps one day, I’ll meet your great-great-great-grandchildren when they come to visit.
Meet you in the forest,
The Railroad Tree