The history of redwood spans thousands of years, and continues to unfold as redwood forests flourish in Northern California today. Humboldt Redwood Company currently plants even more of these magnificent trees than it harvests, carrying on the legacy. Throughout the history of redwood, the lumber has been used to fulfill various building construction needs. Its dependability and beauty remain in high demand today.
The history of redwood was strongly impacted by the California Gold Rush, beginning in 1848. The state’s population boomed as people from all over the country rushed in with dreams of striking it rich. This led to an increased demand for housing, furniture and other products that are ideally constructed of sturdy wood. The availability of redwood in the region meant that these needs could be efficiently fulfilled.
The next historical event to change the history of redwood was the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, built from 1863 to 1869. This project required a significant volume of sturdy lumber. Even after the railroad’s construction, the history of redwood was forever altered. This major development in transportation truly opened up the country. Redwood could be delivered to new, faraway markets.
The San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 was a tragedy that destroyed many homes and businesses. It was noted that many of the buildings that did not burn in the fire were built partially or completely out of redwood. The fire-retardant properties of redwood made it a top choice for use in new buildings during reconstruction.
In the years leading up to 1920, redwood was used so heavily that old-growth redwood forests were sharply depleted. This was a difficult period in the history of redwood, during which poor logging practices led to a loss of healthy forest lands, for the sake of turning a quick profit.
The summer of 1990 became known as Redwood Summer, during which the history of redwood took another sharp turn. Environmentalists clashed with timber companies in the summer of 1990, leading to a new deal to protect one of the last large blocks of old-growth redwoods. This block of 7,500 acres stood as a symbol of the tree’s potential, inspiring the continued thriving growth that redwood forestlands enjoy today.
Interestingly, there are redwood trees still standing today that are over 2,000 years old. The renewable nature of this resource means that future generations can likewise benefit from the history of redwood in many ways.