We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Fight to Save the Redwoods

A History of the Environmental Reform, 1917–1978

Susan R. Schrepfer

Publication Year: 2003

"This is not a simple or ordinary history of a conservation crusade. Schrepfer very ably traces the changes in scientific wisdom from nineteenth-century romanticism and teleological evolutionism to more current ecological dynamism—and the influence of those intellectual developments on political history. . . . The subject is important—much broader than the title suggests—and so is the book."—American Historical Review

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (32.8 KB)
pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

pdf iconDownload PDF (41.2 KB)
pp. ix-x

List of Maps

pdf iconDownload PDF (21.3 KB)
pp. xi-xii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (426.9 KB)
pp. xiii-xvi

Perhaps sensing an old vulnerability in the "forests of the night," twentieth-century man shivers in the misty recesses of the redwoods. These are ancient trees, some as much as two thousand years old and towering over 350 feet. The armies of trees that J. R. R. Tolkien marched across the hills of Middle-earth ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (77.4 KB)
pp. xvii-2

During the years spent working on this manuscript, both in California and the East, I accumulated debts requiring acknowledgment. Many of those active in environmental issues and the redwood controversy gave invaluable information, helped sharpen my analysis, and criticized the manuscript. ...

read more

1. Progressives and Scenic Preservation

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.4 MB)
pp. 3-17

On an August afternoon in 1917, three men drove north from San Francisco in search of "a forest wall reported to have mystery and charm unique among living works of creation." Madison Grant, Henry Fairfield Osborn, and John Campbell Merriam left from the Russian River in Sonoma County to camp in the northern redwoods, made accessible that year by a new highway. ...

read more

2. Citizen Reform: California's State Park System

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.1 MB)
pp. 18-37

In the summer of 1919, in response to accelerated western logging and the concern of the Save-the-Redwoods League, Congress passed a resolution directing the secretary of the Interior to investigate the advisability of a redwood national park.1 A year later the secretary recommended a park along Del Norte County's lower Klamath River, ...

read more

3. Ideology of Reform: A Natural Theology

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 38-51

In deciding to save the redwoods, the league was building upon almost a century of western science. As early as the 1830s, imprints of leaves and cones very similar to California's redwoods had been found in prehistoric sedimentary rocks of Europe and North America.1 ...

read more

4. Parks: Recreation or Englightenment

pdf iconDownload PDF (981.6 KB)
pp. 52-64

In March, 1938, the Save-the-Redwoods League rejected a National Park Service proposal for a redwood national park. The superlative Mill Creek trees targeted by the service were threatened with logging, and the league was searching for funds to save them. Yet the directors asked the federal government to defer to the state's efforts to acquire the stand.1 ...

read more

5. Progressive Opposition to the New Deal: 1930-1949

pdf iconDownload PDF (1018.9 KB)
pp. 65-78

There are obvious continuities between the reforms of the progressive period and the New Deal, yet most of those who had considered themselves progressives and who lived into the 1930s opposed Franklin Delano Roosevelt.1 The men of the league were no exception. Their 1938 vote against a redwood national park reflected differences over park administration, ...

read more

6. Evolution and Ecology

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.9 MB)
pp. 79-102

Prior to World War II, the Save-the-Redwoods League and the Sierra Club were allies. They shared common goals and a common philosophy, based in part upon the influence of evolutionary assumptions. During the 1930s and 1940s, the natural sciences made dramatic advances. ...

read more

7. The Roots of Militancy: 1950-1964

pdf iconDownload PDF (3.0 MB)
pp. 103-129

IN A 1959 letter attacking a proposed freeway, David R. Brower, appointed executive director of the Sierra Club seven years earlier, quoted physicist J. A. Rush: "When man obliterates wilderness, he repudiates the evolutionary force that put him on his planet. In a deeply terrifying sense, man is on his own."1 The statement typifies the union of philosophical naturalism and citizen activism that emerged out of the 1950s. ...

read more

8. The Redwood National Park: 1965-1968

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.7 MB)
pp. 130-162

There were three stages in what became one of the major conservation battles of the 1960s-the fight to establish the Redwood National Park. The first was from the National Park Service's 1964 report until January, 1966, when it became obvious the club had failed to prevent the Johnson Administration from abandoning the service's Redwood Creek proposal in favor of the league's more modest plan. ...

read more

9. David Brower and the Sierra Club: 1964-1970

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.8 MB)
pp. 163-185

In 1968 the Sierra Club was at a height in its militancy, growth, and influence. At its urging, the second session of the Eighty-ninth Congress established the Redwood and Cascades national parks, expanded four wilderness areas, defeated three dams, and founded the scenic rivers, estuaries, and national trails systems. This power owed much to decades of accumulated support, political expertise, and anger. ...

read more

10. The Battle Rejoined: 1969-1977

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.3 MB)
pp. 186-203

Few political compromises have wrought a more untenable situation than the Redwood National Park Act, which devoted one narrow river valley to both clearcutting and wilderness recreation. The moment the park bill was signed in 1968, Arcata Redwood, Simpson Timber, and Georgia-Pacific began cutting their remaining old growth in the Redwood Creek watershed. ...

read more

11. A Second Redwood National Park Act: 1977-1978

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.9 MB)
pp. 204-228

During the last year of the battle over park expansion, the loggers of northern California staged mass demonstrations and evoked the power of the national AFL-CIO. The timber companies denied clearcutting damaged the park, called its expansion a "land grab," and prophesied economic doom for the North Coast. ...

read more

12. No Place to Stand: Saving the Redwoods, 1917-1978

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 229-246

The progressive years of the early part of this century are unique in the attention they garnered from historians in the 1950s and 1960s. As sons discovering the clay feet of their fathers, these generally liberal historians found the progressives weak in their commitment to social change. ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (5.1 MB)
pp. 247-320

Bibliography of Unpublished Sources

pdf iconDownload PDF (220.3 KB)
pp. 321-324


pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 325-338

E-ISBN-13: 9780299088538
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299088545

Publication Year: 2003