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Newsletter – Fall 2013

What’s Happening at Our Park

Happy Autumn Everybody!

A Brief Look Back at Summer:

It was a beautiful summer in the Forest. I hope you all had an opportunity to get out and get up into the Park to stretch the legs, expand the lungs, soak in the rays of the sun, breathe in the fresh air & moist smells of the flora, enjoy the fauna, and re-charge your inner child splashing around in the creeks. In other words, we hope you enjoyed the “heck out of yourselves”.

We did! We worked on the trails, we biked, we hiked, we led kids on “bike and hikes”. We ran, strolled, meandered and wandered. And we wondered, “What’s the real story of all of the remnants of man-made activity that we see in the Park? Who can put together all of the various pieces of the puzzle?” The answer, of course was obvious.

Sandy Lydon (aka “The History Dude”):

Sandy Lydon - History Dude

Sandy Lydon – History Dude

Sandy was one of the original co-founders of the Advocates, and nobody knows the Park like Sandy. At the end of September, Sandy graciously led the Advocates Board of Directors through a particularly ‘history rich’ section of the Park. Our path would lead us through Molino Junction to the Porter House site, up to Hoffman’s Historic Site, over to Big Stump Gulch, down to Bridge Creek and back on the Bridge Creek trail, over the Buddha Bridge, through the Mill site and back to George’s Picnic Area. It promised to be a spectacular day, but first there would need to be classroom time on the Thursday evening before the hike to make sure that we were properly educated hikers. There was even a 20 question quiz. There were questions on “palo colorado”, “goosepens”, and even George Hamilton somehow managed his tan into the quiz. The ‘History Dude’ left no stone un-turned. Finally, we were ready!

A Walk and a Talk:

The history of Nisene Marks is a story of man vs nature. From 1883-1923, 3 different lumber companies and Southern Pacific Railroad were bound and determined to extract “red gold’ from this rugged, almost inaccessible landscape. Ultimately, they were successful in extracting 150,000,000 board feet of old growth redwood from these hills. During the next 40 years, relentless natural forces were slowly but surely erasing the scars of logging. And then in 1962, through the generosity of the Marks family and the Nature Conservancy, the land was forever protected and preserved as The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. So, it was really man vs nature,…man won initially, nature persevered,… and man ultimately preserved. Not a bad story!

Some of the Highlights of Our Hike

Loma Prieta Mill Site and Town:

A huge sawmill, an earthen and log dam Mill Pond, a thriving company town that had a population of 350 people, including a saloon, railroad station, hotel and homes on both sides of the creek. Let your imagination run free. Can you can hear the sounds of the mill, or the laughter from the saloon?

Hoffman’s Historic Site (not to be confused with the bakery downtown):

Sandy Lydon - History Dude

Sandy Lydon – History Dude

When you head up the Loma Prieta Grade trail from the Porter House site, you are walking upon one of the best preserved narrow gauge right of ways in the Park. Keep your eyes open, and you will even see the remnants of a water tank pedestal as you approach Hoffman’s Historic Site.

Once at the site, you will find more remnants of the large camp bunkhouse and out buildings. Just below the site is where the oxen were held. If you close your eyes, you can almost hear the plaintive bellowing of the oxen.



Hoffman Camp around 1918-1921

Hoffman Camp around 1918-1921

Hoffman’s Camp around the turn of the century

Hoffman Historic Site 2013

Hoffman Historic Site 2013

Hoffman’s Historic Site 2013 — what’s left of the bunkhouse



Taking Break at Big Stump Gulch

Taking a Break at Big Stump Gulch

Big Stump Gulch:

Previously known as Big Tree Gulch (before the loggers arrived), this was the last logging site in the Park. The Loma Prieta Lumber Co. borrowed some timbering techniques learned from the Molino Timber Co. and went back in to specifically harvest these Giants before they shut down their operations. Despite that unfortunate late entry, the scale, the light, and the quiet serenity of this Forest may still be best felt at this little piece of Nisene Paradise.

Albino Redwood

Albino Redwood

An albino redwood hiding in the forest

Ghosts in the Park:

Since it’s Halloween season, did you know that we have 3 little ghosts in the Forest? Yep! There are at least 3 little albino redwoods in the Park: a relatively rare genetic mutation where some of sprouts on a root system emerge pure white.

Hope and Optimism:

Maybe Sandy summed it up best and most eloquently: “If there’s one lesson offered by the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park it is one of hope and optimism. Society is capable of changing its relationship with the land from one of short-term exploitation to one of long-term stewardship, and there’s no better place to watch it happen than the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park”.

Stewards of the Forest:

Sadly, State Parks is budget strapped. Increasingly, it falls on non-profit organizations like the Advocates to assume a bigger role in taking care of and improving our State Parks. We need your help more than ever. It’s a wonderful Park and a pleasure to care for.

Come out and join us on Trailwork days once a month. Become an Advocate, and receive our quarterly newsletter. We’ll keep you informed on what we we’re working on. Or send us a donation. We’ll put it to work. Please forward our newsletter to a friend, or all of your friends. Check out our website, ‘Like us’ on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

It’s a big beautiful Park, we can’t take care of it without you. With your help, we can proudly pass this Park down to the next generation of stewards of the Forest!

Happy Autumn everybody….See you in the Forest!

Geoff Alexander
President, Board of Directors

John Fuchs
Vice-President Board of Directors