History of Big Basin Redwoods State Park

What’s special about Big Basin?
Big Basin is the oldest state park! In 2002, we celebrated its 100 Year Anniversary!

The story begins in 1889 at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park when painter/photographer Andrew P. Hill was hired to take pictures of redwoods in Welch’s Grove (now Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park). But Welch would not let him take pictures of his grove so Hill traveled to Big Basin area instead. He was so inspired by the grandeur of the redwoods, and so alarmed that all these giants were being cut down, that he vowed that the magnificent trees should be saved for generations to enjoy.

He and friends such as journalist, Josephine McCracken, attracted wealthy and influential people who formed the Sempervirens Club. These visionaries raised funds and convinced legislators to purchase Big Basin. Thus began the preservation movement and in 1902 the establishment of California’s oldest State Park.

Since that time, public and private partnerships have added to the park with its original 3,800 acres increasing over the years to more than 18,000 acres. Behind these efforts lie the passionate stories of visionaries, visitors and workers and the history of this preservation movement.