The Mountains of California eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 313 pages of information about The Mountains of California.

4th.  The cones never fall off and never discharge their seeds until the tree or branch to which they belong dies.

[Illustration:  LOWER MARGIN OF THE MAIN PINE BELT, SHOWING OPEN CHARACTER OF WOODS.]

A full discussion of the bearing of these facts upon one another would perhaps be out of place here, but I may at least call attention to the admirable adaptation of the tree to the fire-swept regions where alone it is found.  After a grove has been destroyed, the ground is at once sown lavishly with all the seeds ripened during its whole life, which seem to have been carefully held in store with reference to such a calamity.  Then a young grove immediately springs up, giving beauty for ashes.

SUGAR PINE (Pinus Lambertiana)

This is the noblest pine yet discovered, surpassing all others not merely in size but also in kingly beauty and majesty.

It towers sublimely from every ridge and canon of the range, at an elevation of from three to seven thousand feet above the sea, attaining most perfect development at a height of about 5000 feet.

Full-grown specimens are commonly about 220 feet high, and from six to eight feet in diameter near the ground, though some grand old patriarch is occasionally met that has enjoyed five or six centuries of storms, and attained a thickness of ten or even twelve feet, living on undecayed, sweet and fresh in every fiber.

In southern Oregon, where it was first discovered by David Douglas, on the head waters of the Umpqua, it attains still grander dimensions, one specimen having been measured that was 245 feet high, and over eighteen feet in diameter three feet from the ground.  The discoverer was the Douglas for whom the noble Douglas Spruce is named, and many other plants which will keep his memory sweet and fresh as long as trees and flowers are loved.  His first visit to the Pacific Coast was made in the year 1825.  The Oregon Indians watched him with curiosity as he wandered in the woods collecting specimens, and, unlike the fur-gathering strangers they had hitherto known, caring nothing about trade.  And when at length they came to know him better, and saw that from year to year the growing things of the woods and prairies were his only objects of pursuit, they called him “The Man of Grass,” a title of which he was proud.  During his first summer on the waters of the Columbia he made Fort Vancouver his headquarters, making excursions from this Hudson Bay post in every direction.  On one of his long trips he saw in an Indian’s pouch some of the seeds of a new species of pine which he learned were obtained from a very large tree far to the southward of the Columbia.  At the end of the next summer, returning to Fort Vancouver after the setting in of the winter rains, bearing in mind the big pine he had heard of, he set out on an excursion up the Willamette Valley in search of it; and how he fared, and what dangers and hardships he endured, are best told in his own journal, from which I quote as follows: 

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The Mountains of California from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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