Mother of the Forest - Nature's Sorrow
"Skinning this tree alive is as sensible a scheme as skinning our great men would be to prove their greatness." -- John Muir
The tree that stands before you is a symble of freed and thoughtlessness. In 1854 the "Mother of the Forest" -- so named for her beauty and size -- was stripped of her bark. Promoters schemed to ship the bark strips back east for reassembly at exhibitions in New York City and London. Once there, the tree's outer trunk was displayed to the fascination of paying crowds that numbered in the thousands.
Look closely and you can still see where eight-foot sections were peeled away from the living tree. A crew of men worked at the tree's systematic destruction for ninety days.
While some were eager to see evidence of the Sierra Nevada big tree, the act of the tree's ruin also sparked outrage. Though nineteenth-century views defined nature as vast, unending, and forever renewable, people condemned the event as a botanicla tragedy and an act of sheer vandalism. It was through the Mother of the Forest's great sacrifice that a heightened awareness about the need to protect these trees was born.