Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Calaveras Big Trees SP collection
Date (inclusive): 1854-2013
Date (bulk): (bulk 1960-1990)
Collection number: CSPA-306
Calaveras Big Trees State Park
7 linear feet, including 2 map folders.
California State Parks
McClellan, California 95652
Abstract: Calaveras Big Trees State Park, situated in both Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties, is located three miles north of Arnold,
California off Highway 4. Calaveras became a State Park in 1931 to preserve the North Grove of giant sequoias. In 1954, Calaveras
South Grove was added to the park, uniting and protecting the North and South Groves. The Calaveras Big Trees State Park Collection
is arranged in twelve series: 1. Correspondence, 2. Ephemera, 3. Facilities, 4. Histories, 5. Interpretation, 6. Legal, 7.
Publications, 8. Subject Files, 9. Cartographic Material, 10. Photographic Material, and 11. Reports. Items span the years
1854-2013 with the bulk of the material falling between 1960-1990.
Physical Location: California State Parks Archives
Languages: Languages represented in this collection:
The collection is open for research. Cultural and archaeological site maps are restricted. Reports with sensitive data may
be restricted. Consult repository for details.
For permission to reproduce or publish, please consult the California State Parks Archives archivist. Permission for reproduction
or publication is given on behalf of the California State Parks Archives, McClellan as the owner of the physical items. The
researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement that may arise from reproduction or publication of materials
from the California State Parks Archives.
[Identification of item], Calaveras Big Trees State Park Collection, CSPA-306: [box: folder number], California State Parks
Archives, Sacramento, California.
Calaveras Big Trees SP donated the majority of the material in this collection in 2002. Additional correspondence, maps, and
deeds were added from Central Records in 2015.
Margo Lentz-Meyer processed this collection and created and encoded its finding aid in 2015.
Calaveras Big Trees State Park, situated in both Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties, is located three miles north of Arnold,
California off Highway 4. The park is named after the massive giant sequoias that reach heights of up to 325 ft. and diameters
of 33 ft. The park is comprised of two groves of mixed conifer forest, North Grove and South Grove. The North Grove of Calaveras
Big Trees came under the protection of the State of California in 1931 to preserve the giant sequoias. In 1954, Calaveras
South Grove was acquired from the Pickering Lumber Company, uniting the two groves and establishing Calaveras Big Trees State
Park as it is known today.
Although the area had been known and was used by the Indians who lived there for thousands of years, the 'discovery' of the
North Grove is most frequently attributed to Augustus T. Dowd. In 1852, Dowd recorded his siting of the 'Big Tree' in the
North Grove while on a bear hunt. The 'Big Tree,' shortly after its discovery became the 'Big Stump,' a popular exhibition
site. Over time the stump was used for a number of activities in the Grove including: dancing, theatrical performances, concerts,
lectures, divine services, weddings, a schoolroom, and a bowling alley. However, during this time the trees in the area were
quickly being exploited.
In 1928, the California State Park System was established through a bond act and in 1931 the North Grove was purchased. The
land was acquired with funding from the Calaveras Grove Association and the Save the Redwoods League with the help from private
donors including John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Mrs. William H. Crocker. Following a lull in state funding and park acquisitions
due to the Great Depression and two world wars, the South Grove was finally purchased from Pickering Lumber Company in 1954.
Calaveras Big Trees has a total of eight standing historic structures associated with the early hotel period or with the Civilian
Conservation Corps (CCC) period of development. The Park office building is the only building remaining from the old hotel
period and was once a part of the Big Trees Hotel complex. The remaining seven rustic architecture buildings were constructed
by the CCC in the 1930s. In addition to the construction of buildings the CCC also built camp and picnic facilities, built
trails, cleaned and smoothed the Big Stump, improved the park's water supply, renovated the old hotel, instituted fire protection
measures, and performed other conservation work.
Since the discovery of the North Grove by Euroamericans in the mid-1800s the North Grove area has arguably been the longest
continuously operating recreational site in California. Calaveras Big Trees State Park provides visitors with varied recreational
opportunities including camping, hiking, nature study, picnicking, swimming, and fishing.
Scope and Content of Collection
The Calaveras Big Trees State Park Collection is arranged in elevan series: 1. Correspondence, 2. Legal, 3. Facilities, 4.
Subject Files, 5. Interpretation, 6. Histories, 7. Publications, 8. Ephemera, 9. Photographic Material, 10. Cartographic Material,
and 11. Reports. Items span the years 1854-2013 with the bulk of the material falling in between 1960-2000.
Series one, Correspondence, consists of general correspondence and memorandum between Calaveras Big Tree State Park advocates
and employees to other branches of national and state government officials spanning the years 1932-2002. This series also
contains correspondence pertaining to grants and easements dating from 1934-1981. Series two, Legal, contains correspondence
and memoranda regarding legal issues relating to the park from 1928-1991. It also contains copies of official park deeds from
1949 and original and copies of Gift or Loan of Personal Property documents from 1990-1991.
Series three, Facilities, consists of records concerning the maintenance of park grounds and facilities. Series four, Subject
Files, is divided into four subseries each of which contains correspondence, memorandum, and reports. The four subseries are:
Civilian Conservation Corps, the Parks General Plan, Inventory of Features, and Prescribed Burn Project. Series five, Interpretation,
consists of interpretive plans and prospectuses, as well as exhibit plans, and a teachers' guide to the park.
Series six, Histories, contains background information and history of the area in and surrounding Calaveras Big Trees State
Park. Series seven, Publications, contains books, newspaper clippings, journal clippings and magazine clippings documenting
the history of the park and its contents. Series eight, Ephemera, consists of trail guides, program guides, post cards, and
Series nine, Photographic Material, consists of slides, 35mm black and white negatives, 35mm color negatives, 4x6 inch black
and white negatives, color and black and white prints, and Oversized Photos dating from 1925-1998. Series ten, Cartographic
Material, contains maps of the topography and geography of the park, and blue prints of park facilities and buildings.
Series eleven, Reports, includes reports produced by State of California Department of Parks and Recreation and reports produced
by cultural resource management contractors.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Calaveras Big Trees Association
Calaveras Big Trees State Park (Calif.)
California. Dept. of Parks and Recreation
Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.)
North Grove Trail (Calif.)
Sierra Nevada (Calif. and Nev.)
Stanislaus River (Calif.)