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Old 02-26-2020, 11:45 PM   #1
The future is unwritten
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 70,002
Feb 27th, 2020 : Stumped

Well, I’m damn sick of the dragged out war, just the thought of the blood and noise makes me sick in the gut.
I hear Lee promised Grant no more fighting but I ain’t taking no chances, I’m grabbing the first train I can out of this bloody hell.
West, that’s where I’m going, West to where the big trees grow, West to where you can just pick up gold off the ground.
The train is crowded.

Damn those are some big trees all right, but haven’t seen any gold on the ground. I need shelter and after blowing my
separation pay on train fare and some whiskey, with no gold to pick up I’m stumped.

There are trees, and then there are trees out west. “Ancient sequoias,” “Mammoths,” or “Big Trees,” as John Muir liked to say – the nicknames varied, but the trees’ contribution the grandeur of the storied West Coast remained the same. Pioneers worked, breathed, and seriously lived in the darn things. Improbable today, but common in the late 19th century, houses carved inside massive tree stumps were a staple of life in states like Oregon, Washington and California, where the lumber industry was booming and leaving a veritable sea of beheaded trees in its wake. Crafty by nature, the pioneers took to those wastelands and upcycled the stumps into homes, dance floors, hotels – you name it. Ladies ‘n gents, meet the original tiny houses…

We know the US is young. But sometimes, we forget just how much younger the West Coast is than the rest of it. After the Civil War, new railroads were cast into the continent like landlines to the promise land of California – and that sunny future got even sparklier with the onset of the Gold Rush. Still, you had to be a bit of an oddball to head out West. You had to leave behind your friends, your possessions, and risk death on the daily. You had to have a staunch character, and one that was still willing to take a huge gamble – crazy, with a streak of the poet.

Known as the sentinels of the West, these giants were kind of like mythical beasts for the rest of the country. Folks wrote home with stories both grand and heartbreaking, of new lives lost and found amongst the Jurassic trees (the oldest sequoia fossil dates 135 million years back). Not to mention, stories of gold – and where there is gold, there is industry, which meant that the undertaking of logging the trees became urgent. The logs were so large, they had to travel down through rivers as makeshift rafts. It could take men a month to fell a 1,000-yr-old sequoia, and when the deed was done, it often became a dance floor….

As one paper wrote in the 1850s about a stump dance, “[An] excellent spring floor was laid between the hotel and the Big Stump and both the floor and stump covered by an arbor of cedar boughs beautifully arranged with many candles among branches…. The scene was romantic and beautiful beyond description.” The only complaints according to the ladies? No spring in the “floor,” apparently.

Stumps became sheds, huts, and houses. They became a place to store your animals, provisions, and anything else that needed the kind of security the walls of a tree that could grow over 30ft (over 9 metres) wide. They were so wide, and so solid, you could carve a tunnel through them. Most importantly? They were free.

I just realized this is the same stump as in the first picture on the left. Must be a tourist thing like visit a real Amish farm house
where nobody lives but the guides pretend to be a resident family.

The stump house craze will forever embody the giddy, pre-environmentalism landscape of the West’s history, and the fight continues to keep the trees’ remaining habitats safe today. Luckily, trees also have a hidden superpower for playing dead, and giant sequoias and redwoods will continue to grow sprouts from their stumps. Hell, in some cases, a wounded tree’s roots can graft together with its neighbour’s to stay alive, sharing its nutrients and water. Life, as they say, finds a way.
Yeah, I’ll find a way... but for now I’m stumped.

The four horsemen ~ Hahn, Azar, Redfield, & Trump.
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Old 02-28-2020, 11:21 AM   #2
Diaphone Jim
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Northern California
Posts: 1,831
Around here we drive through 'em, too.
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