President Benjamin Harrison, President Theodore Roosevelt Junior

1963 – F. Norman Clark Established The Roaring Camp Railroads

In 1963, F. Norman Clark obtained ownership of a former logging railroad, which former Presidents Benjamin Harrison and Theodore Roosevelt had once rode.

Benjamin Harrison in his Union outfit during the U.S. Civil War.

The Roaring Camp Railroads has two train lines, a standard gauge train, a gauge which was established after the U.S. Civil War, which takes patrons down to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and another set of narrow gauge tracks, which was built after Roaring Camp Railroads was established, with allowed patrons to take steam engine trains to Bear Mountian.

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce, Andrew Putnam Hill, Ben Lomond, California, Boulder Creek, California, Felton, California, Josephine Clifford Mccracken, President Theodore Roosevelt Junior

May 11, 1903 – President Theodore Roosevelt Visited The Redwoods Of The Santa Cruz Mountains For His First Time

President Teddy Roosevelt at the Santa Cruz Depot, May 11, 1903.

On May 11, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt arrived in the town of Felton, California to take a train from the “Big Trees Station”, which is now part of the “Roaring Camp Railroads”, to the beach town of Santa Cruz. Residents of Ben Lomond, Boulder Creek and Felton greeted the president at the Big Trees Station soon after the president saw redwood trees for his first time ever.

President Theodore Roosevelt on the SPCRR in Santa Cruz on Chestnut St. near the Mission Hill tunnel, May 11, 1903.

When Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Santa Cruz, he spoke with spoke with Josephine Clifford McCracken, who was a former U.S. Civil War nurse, an author, a journalist for the the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper and one of the founding members of the Sempervirens Club; which was an advocacy group for the preservation of redwood trees.

The Sempervirens Club held their first meetings in the late 1800s.

Photograph of author and social activist Jack London.

The club has various members, including the American poets Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce, a U.S. Civil War veteran who wrote, “An Occurrence At Owl Creek Creek Bridge”, and Jack London, an author and a radical social activist who wrote “The Call of the Wild”.

Photograph of the author and poet Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce.

During Theodore Roosevelt’s trip he observed hundreds of advertisements placed on the ancient redwoods. Theodore Roosevelt scraped his original speech and instead gave two speeches, to the citizens, calling for the preservation of Redwood forests.

First Address at Santa Cruz, California:

Mr. Mayor, and you my fellow citizens. I thank you for the greeting that you have extended to me. I wish to say a word of special acknowledgment to the men of the Grand Army, to the representatives of the pioneers, to the men who proved their loyalty in the supreme test from ’61 to ’65, and to the pioneers who showed the same qualities in winning this great West that you of the Civil War showed in your feat. I also wish to say how pleased I am to have had as my escort the men of the Naval Militia. The one thing on which this country must forever be a unit is the navy. We must have a first-class navy. A nation like ours, with the unique position of fronting at once on the Atlantic and the Pacific, a nation forced by the mere fact of destiny to play a great, a mighty, a masterful part in the world, cannot afford to neglect its navy, cannot afford to fail to insist upon the building up of the navy. We must go on with the task as we have begun it. We have a good navy now. We must make it an even better one in the future. We must have an ample supply of the most formidable type of fighting ships; we must have those ships practiced; we must see that not only are our warships the best in the world, but that the men who handle them, the men in the gun turrets, the men in the engine rooms, the men in the conning towers, are also the best of their kind. I think that our navy is already wonderfully good and we must strive to make it even better.

I am about to visit the grove of the great trees. I wish to congratulate you people of California, people of this region, and to congratulate all the country on what you have done in preserving these great trees. Cut down one of these giants and you cannot fill its place. The ages were their architects and we owe it to ourselves and to our children’s children to preserve them. Nothing has pleased me more here in California than to see how thoroughly awake you are to preserve the monuments of the past, human and natural. I am glad to see the way in which the old mission buildings are being preserved. This great, wonderful, new State, this State which is itself an empire, situated on the greatest of oceans, should keep alive the sense of historic continuity of its past, and should as one step towards that end preserve the ancient historic landmarks within its limits. I am even more pleased that you should be preserving the great and wonderful natural features here, that you should have in California a park like the Yosemite, that we should have State preserves of these great trees and other preserves where individuals and associations have kept them. We should see to it that no man for speculative purposes or for mere temporary use exploits the groves of great trees. Where the individuals and associations of individuals cannot preserve them, the State, and, if necessary, the nation, should step in and see to their preservation. We should keep the trees as we should keep great stretches of the wildernesses as a heritage for our children and our children’s children. Our aim should be to preserve them for use, to preserve them for beauty, for the sake of the nation hereafter.

I shall not try to make any extended address to you. I shall only say how glad I am to be here, bid you welcome with all my heart, and say how thoroughly I believe in you, and that I am a better American for being among you.

Roosevelt’s Second Address at the Big Tree Grove:

Mr. Mayor, and ladies first, and to the rest of the guests in the second place. I want to thank you very much for your courtesy in receiving me, and to say how much I have enjoyed being here. This is the first glimpse I have ever had of the big trees, and I wish to pay the highest tribute I can to the State of California, to those private citizens and associations of citizens who have cooperated with the State in preserving these wonderful trees for the whole nation, in preserving them in whatever part of the State they may be found. All of us ought to want to see nature preserved; and take a big tree whose architect has been the ages, anything that man does toward it may hurt it and cannot help it; and above all, the rash creature who wishes to leave his name to mar the beauties of nature should be sternly discouraged. Take those cards pinned up on that tree; they give an air of the ridiculous to this solemn and majestic grove. (Applause.) To pin those cards up there is as much out of place as if you tacked so many tin cans up there. I mean that literally. You should save the people whose names are there from the reprobation of every individual by taking down the cards at the earliest possible moment; and do keep these trees, keep all the wonderful scenery of this wonderful State unmarred by the vandalism or the folly of man. Remember that we have to contend not merely with knavery, but with folly; and see to it that you by your actions create the kind of public opinion which will put a stop to any destruction of or any marring of the wonderful and beautiful gifts that you have received from nature, that you ought to hand on as a precious heritage to your children and your children’s children. I am, oh, so glad to be here, to be in this majestic and beautiful grove, to see the wonderful redwoods, and I thank you for giving me the chance, and I do hope that it will be your object to preserve them as nature made them and left them, for the future.

After Theodore Roosevelt’s addresses to the Santa Cruz residents, he took a train from Union Station to San Jose to meet Josephine McCracken’s friend Andrew Putnam Hill, a man who was instrumental in the creation of the Big Basin State Park in Boulder Creek, California.

A sketch of Andrew Putnam Hill.

After President Roosevelt’s trip to the Santa Cruz Redwoods forest in California he became more adamant in establishing national parks and in preserving the ancient redwoods from loggers.

A utility box art outside of Roaring Camp Railroads, by the Felton Bible Church, pays tribute to Theodore Roosevelt’s visit first visit to the redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and to the towns of Felton and Santa Cruz, California.

Pierre Charles L'Enfant, President George Washington, President Harry S. Truman, President James Monroe, President Theodore Roosevelt Junior, The District of Columbia, Washington D.C.

The Plans For The Presidential Palace And The Construction Of The White House

In 1791, Pierre Charles L’Enfant met with President George Washington to show his sketch of the “President’s Palace”, which was five times the size of the present day White House, within the original site of President’s Park.

The plans for a grand “Presidential Palace” were scrapped after President Washington fired L’Enfant for insubordination. In 1792, an architectural competition was held for the Capital and the Presidential Home buildings. From that competition, James Hoban’s design of a smaller and more modest Presidential House was chosen.

James Hoban’s original design for the White House.

Construction of the smaller presidential house began in 1792 and ended in 1800.

Portrait of President James Monroe

On August 24, 1814, British soldiers invaded Washington, D.C. and torched President’s House. Only the walls of the structure remained after the fire. It was debated whether or not the capital should be moved to another city, after the events of the War of 1812.

With the urging of President James Monroe, the U.S. Capital stayed at its current location and Congress authorized the reconstruction of the Presidential Home. James Hoban was commissioned to rebuild the President’s Home to the way it originally was, while keeping the scorched walls within the building.

Engraving of the White House by William Strickland, after a watercolor by George Munger, 1814. (Library of Congress)

In 1817, President Monroe moved back into the rebuilt President’s Home. In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt renamed the President’s Home to the “White House”. In the 1940s, under Harry Truman’s administration the White House was under reconstruction.

Dewey Monument, Mare Island Museum, President Theodore Roosevelt Junior, San Francisco, California, Vallejo, California

President Theodore Roosevelt’s Dedication To The Dewey Fleet In San Francisco

In 1901, President McKinley broke ground for a Monument dedicated to Admiral George Dewey, and his fleet whom had fought in the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War. On May 14, 1903 the completed monument was dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt at the Union Square in San Francisco, California.

Theodore Roosevelt had served as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the Spanish American War, but he resigned to organize the Rough Riders, the first volunteer Calvary in the Spanish-American War. President Theodore Roosevelts’s former roles during the war made it fitting for him to dedicate the statue after President McKinley’s assassination In 1901.

The Goddess of Victory statute stands atop of the monument to represent the U.S. victory over the Spanish as the end of the over 300 year Spanish rule over he Philippine Islands.

Author’s Note:

The Mare Island Musuem in Vallejo, California has the newspaper clips regarding President Theodore Roosevelt’s dedication.

John Muir, President Theodore Roosevelt Junior

Henry Coe State Park’s Exhibit On President Theodore Roosevelt’s Visit To The Redwoods In The Santa Cruz Mountains

President Theadore Roosevelt visited Santa Cruz, California to meet with conservationist John Muir and to see the local redwood trees within the present day Henry Coe State Park. During Roosevelt’s hike with John Muir the secret service lost track of the President for three days.

President Roosevelt’s favorite tree from his visit has been nicknamed “The Roosevelt Tree”.

One of the redwood trees that the president saw regularly had business cards and other flyers posted on its bark. Seeing this modification of an ancient tree promoted the president to give an impromptu speech.

Author’s Note:

Photos of Theodore Roosevelt’s visit to the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains may be viewed personally at the Henry Coe State Park’s visitor center.

Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park, President George Walker Bush, President Theodore Roosevelt Junior

The Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona

I’ve visited the Petrified Forest of Calistoga, California, that is north of Napa, California, to see fallen trees that have turned to “rock” due to a chemical reaction involving wood and volcanic ash. However, the Petrified Forest in Arizona is far more massive in size and more ancient geologically. Parts of the 7,500 square foot “Painted Desert” is hundreds of millions of years, up to an astounding, billion years of age.

The surface of the painted forest existed when the supercontinent Pangea existed, during the age of the dinosaurs. Therefore, several teams of archeologists have come in search of dinosaur remains.

In prehistoric times, the Painted Desert served as a trade route for various Native American peoples.

On December 8, 1906, Theodore Roosevelt signed an act making Arizona’s Petrified Forest the United States of America’s second national monument. In total, during Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency, he signed into law the creation of 5 National Parks and 18 National Monuments.

In the 1920s Route 66 was built inside the boundaries of the Painted Desert. Soon after the creation of the highway the Painted Desert Inn and The Lion Farm were created as roadside attractions.

An abandoned vehicle marks a portion of the Route 66 that lay within the Painted Desert.

On December 9, 1962, the ancient area was established as the Petrified Forest National Park. In 2004, President George Walker Bush signed a bill expanding the national park by 125,000 acres.

Author’s Note:

More Information on the creation of National Parks in the United States can be found in this National Geographic article.