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Guide to the Calaveras Big Trees State Park Collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Collections

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Calaveras Big Trees SP collection
    Date (inclusive): 1854-2013
    Date (bulk): (bulk 1960-1990)
    Collection number: CSPA-306
    Creator: Calaveras Big Trees State Park
    Extent: 7 linear feet, including 2 map folders.
    Repository: 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: English


    The collection is open for research. Cultural and archaeological site maps are restricted. Reports with sensitive data may be restricted. Consult repository for details.

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Calaveras Big Trees State Park Collection, CSPA-306: [box: folder number], California State Parks Archives, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition Information

    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.

    Processing Information

    Margo Lentz-Meyer processed this collection and created and encoded its finding aid in 2015.

    Administrative History

    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 pamphlets.
    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.

    Indexing Terms

    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.)
    Cultural resources
    Esthetic resources
    Giant sequoia
    Miwok Indians
    Natural resources
    North Grove Trail (Calif.)
    Sierra Nevada (Calif. and Nev.)
    Stanislaus River (Calif.)

    Related Collections

    Francis-Bishop Papers