The history of redwood is as interesting and engaging as the magnificent trees themselves. For the past several thousand years, redwood forestlands have been an important part of the history of Northern California. The oldest redwood trees standing today began as seedlings more than 2,000 years ago!
The California Gold Rush, which began in 1848, forever changed the history of redwood. As thousands of people flooded into the state, there was increasing demand for housing, furniture and other goods. Much of that demand was filled by readily available redwood.
The Transcontinental Railroad, built between 1863 and 1869, further impacted the history of redwood. The railroad required vast amounts of lumber. Once the railroad was built, further markets were opened to redwood.
The history of redwood was further impacted during the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. Many of the unburned buildings were partially or wholly built of redwood. Subsequently, after the devastation, many new buildings were built of redwood.
From 1865 through 1920 redwood lumber was used heavily in construction. During this time, old growth redwood forestlands were vastly depleted. In 1850 there were approximately 2 million acres of old growth redwood forestlands. By 1910 this had been reduced to only 250,000 acres.
As the American economy continued to grow, redwood was used extensively. This put further pressure on redwood logging practices. In some cases, short-term financial gain was more important than long-term loss of productive, healthy forestlands.
The history of redwood again changed dramatically in the decade known as Redwood Summer. Beginning in the summer of 1990 environmentalists clashed with timber companies in Northern California. Tensions eased in 1999 when Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) brokered a deal to permanently protect one of the last large blocks of 7,500 acres of pristine, old growth redwoods.
Today, redwood forests are growing and thriving. Mendocino Redwood Company, LLC (MRC) is planting more trees than it harvests, and each year the total supply of redwood is increasing. While homeowners and contractors enjoy the many benefits of Mendocino redwood lumber, the company is able to invest millions of dollars in improving its forestlands and will continue to do so into the future.