Felling the Mammoth Tree of Calaveras Country

Felling the Mammoth Tree of Calaveras Country


Clifton Meador


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"The Giant Sequoia of the Sierra Nevada mountains are survivors of the last period of climate change. These huge trees used to be widespread - they grew all over the continental United States. As the climate changed during the Pleistocene Epoch, their range became limited to the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada at an altitude of 3,000 to 8,000 feet. They now survive solely in groups called groves, and there are only about 70 groves left. They are among the largest living things ever to have existed on Earth: one tree in Sequoia National Park is estimated to weigh 1,800 tons.

"During the nineteenth century, California seemed like the promised land, a place where luck and gold ran in rivers. The news that humongous trees were growing in the Sierra Nevada mountains seemed like a myth, and the story was met with skepticism - assumed to be part of the hyperbole that surrounded the Gold Rush. The insistence that they were real, and enormous beyond anyone's experience, created a flurry of interest. Skeptics in the East demanded proof - tangible evidence. So, an enterprising soul decided to cut down the biggest Sequoia he could find. It happened to be a tree that Augustus T. Dowd first saw in 1852 in the Calaveras grove. Who is surprised that the first giant tree encountered by a European settler was destroyed in order to prove that it existed?" - Clifton Meador


Clifton Meador (self published)


Natural history, environmental studies


5 x 12"


Pamphlet stitch binding


Paper and digital ink


Pamphlet-style book printed with horizontal and vertical text and photos.



Other Information

This pamphlet is from a series of books titled Grove. The images for this work were taken at the Calaveras State Park, in California during the summer of 2011. More information can be found here: http://www.vampandtramp.com/finepress/m/clifton-meador.html

Exhibit Location

This work was featured in the Cornell Fine Arts Museum as a part of the exhibition “Common Ground: Selected Works from The Rollins Book Arts Collection” from September 18, 2021 – December 31, 2021.

Felling the Mammoth Tree of Calaveras Country