Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Once Upon a Time in Placerville No. 18: The Old Big Oak

Good morning. Tina here.

Once upon a time, on the south side of Big Oak Road, .6 of a mile from Oak Hill Road, an 800 year old Canyon Live Oak (aka Maul Oak, Gold Oak, Gold Cup Oak) grew. Towering majestically 88 feet high, with a circumference of eighteen feet, four inches, and an average crown spread of 127 feet, 6 inches, it stood like a cathedral, sheltering man, plants, and animals alike over the centuries. One branch measured 40 feet long horizontally, and 154 inches around.

At one time there was a stagecoach stop here, passengers and supplies for mines traveled to and from Grizzly Flat and Diamond Springs, stopping here for a short while on the stage's journey to and fro. The old stage stop later served as a cabin for a native american farmhand.  A gentleman named David William Gipe built a home at its north edge in 1880.

In 1980 Swift Dodge of Sacramento filmed a car commercial under the big oak tree.

In June 1981, due to the efforts of members of the home and garden club, a forester, an orinthologist, and a historian, the oak was named as the 6th largest Quericus Chrysolepis (Canyon Live Oak) in California by the American Forestry Association Big Trees Registry.

In the wee hours of January 5, 1982. after weeks of heavy rain, and in the midst of high winds and with snow weighing down the storm ravaged limbs, the weakened roots gave way and the tree came down. The owner of the tree, Kenneth Anderson, who lived 600 feet away heard no sound, but some of his neighbors reported they heard the fall.

A Pleasant Valley giant stood no more.

Loggers worked to clear and save the aged hard wood, and a slab from the stump is now located at the El Dorado County Historical Museum located on Placerville Drive at the Fairgrounds.

I remember standing under the tree about 1972, looking up and thinking a person could live on one of those large branches. I hope at least one couple got married underneath its immense cathedral dome. It was reported that three thousand persons could shelter under the tree, which was the size of a circus tent, half a football field long.

Farewell old friend.


lorlore said...

Very interesting story and photos!!!! Thankyou for sharing!!!!

Heidi Ann said...

It's always so sad to lose a magnificent old tree like that.
I'm so glad you have the photos, and I really enjoyed reading the story about it! I like remembering it. It deserves that.