These photos from around 1915 capture the image of lumberjacks working among the massive redwood trees in Humboldt County, California. At that time tree felling was at its peak. The photos are part of the Humboldt State University Library Special Collections, a series of pictures from northwest California from the 1880s through the 1920s by Swedish photographer A.W. Ericson.
With the European Americans sweeping towards the west in the late 1800’s, they required wood to build their homes for their families. Commercial logging provided employment, as timber harvesting quickly became one of the top industries in the area.
These trees are the tallest and one of the most massive tree species on Earth. The size of the huge trees made them prized timber, as redwood became known for its durability and workability. Redwood Tree forests covered more than 2,000,000 acres (8,100 km2) of the California coast.
The lumberjacks did not have modern day equipment like chainsaws, they had to use axes, saws, and other early methods of bringing the trees down.
Transportation was also very slow, with Oxon and horses being used to transport the big redwood trees.
In time railways replaced the horse and Oxon and wood could be harvested much quicker which led to more profits being made.
After many decades of unobstructed clear-cut logging, serious efforts toward conservation began. In 1918, the Save-the-Redwoods League was founded to preserve remaining old-growth redwoods, and their work resulted in the establishment of Prairie Creek, Del Norte Coast, and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks among others. By the time Redwood National Park was created in 1968, nearly 90% of the original redwood trees had been logged.
Today, the Redwood National and State Parks in Humboldt County combined contain nearly half of the remaining old growth redwoods are in this park system, including giant’s five stories taller than the Statue of Liberty. They can live to be 2000 years old and grow to over 360 feet tall.