Our friend, the high-powered Wall Street attorney, is in San Francisco for one of those conferences on securities law. But being a wise man, he took the wife and kids along, so it's really the summer vacation – a long vacation with a few days when the wife and kids sleep in and he listens to what one can do with the latest SEC regulations in some air-conditioned room in the city. Of course it is sometime good to get away from New York City.
Friday, August 10, it was Muir Woods. You can visit the National Park Service site to learn about the place, or the official site, Visit Muir Woods which offers a bit of the history of the place. Or there is the basic public information on Muir Woods National Monument, a unit of the National Park Service in Marin County, twelve miles north of San Francisco – 554 acres of forested area populated by Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), one of the last remaining stands. This is an old-growth coastal redwood forest. With the Pacific right there, the forest is regularly shrouded in coastal fogs – things grows like mad, and in the hot dry summer it's not dry there.
The back story of Muir Wood is amusing. Before the logging industry came to California, there were maybe two million acres of old growth forest, containing these redwoods, growing in a narrow strip along the coast. By the start of the twentieth most of it had been cut down, except for Sequoia Canyon just north of the San Francisco Bay – inaccessibility saved it.
Congressman William Kent and his wife purchased those 611 acres the Tamalpais Land and Water Company for forty-five grand to save it. Then in 1907 a water company in Sausalito planned to dam Redwood Creek, flooding the valley. Kent objected, the water company took him to court to attempt to force the project to move ahead, and Kent sidestepped the water company by donating 295 acres, the redwood forest, to the Federal Government. The local courts then had no jurisdiction. Ha! And then, on January 9, 1908, Theodore Roosevelt declared the land a national monument, and that was that. Kent refused efforts to put his name on the place. He said it should be named after the naturalist John Muir, and so it was.
In the spring of 1945, delegates from fifty countries met in San Francisco to draft and sign the United Nations Charter. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, shortly before he was to have opened the United Nations Conference. On May 19, the delegates held a commemorative ceremony in tribute to his memory in Muir Woods' Cathedral Grove, where a dedication plaque was placed in his honor.