Maynard van der Galien
I enjoy walking through old-growth forest and seeing towering trees. A friend and I walked through the 1.6-kilometre trail of protected old-growth forest at Shaw Woods near Eganville one morning last fall when the air was cool and there was a light rain. The trail leads through towering hemlock, beech and maple trees.
A few years ago I toured northern California and walked among the world’s tallest trees. There are also numerous tourist attractions. I took a photo of our rental car as it went through The Chandelier Tree in Drive-Thru Tree Park. The massive tree is a 276-foot tall coast redwood in Leggett, California with a 6-foot wide by 6-foot-9-inch high hole cut through its base to allow a car to drive through. The sign claims it is 315 ft. high and 21 ft. wide. The name “Chandelier Tree” comes from its unique limbs that resemble a chandelier. The limbs, which measure from 4 ft. to 7 ft. in diameter, begin 100 ft. above the ground. The tree is believed to have been carved in the early 1930s. The tree is massive and has made massive amounts of money for the property owner.
One of the biggest surprises I had while we were driving along the scenic Pacific coast highway in northern California was seeing a Paul Bunyan Theme Park. The 49-foot tall Paul Bunyan and his ox were in a desolate part of the country. I exclaimed out loud, “Hey I thought Paul Bunyan and Big Joe Mufferaw were French Canadian folk heroes who made their living chopping down trees in Ontario and Quebec.”
The Theme Park was a busy place and we found the admission price rather expensive so we watched from the gate, preferring to go see real trees instead. Paul and his ox stand tall outside the entrance, in full view of Hwy 101, beckoning all to stop and visit — and many do, by the tens of thousands, every year. Talk about having a huge woodsmen celebrity out at the highway making money for the owners of the make-believe theme park. My question was: Why is this a huge tourist attraction in northern California? Why wasn’t this done in the Ottawa Valley?
We also toured The Petrified Forest located in Sonoma County in northern California. It is the only Petrified Forest in California and has the largest petrified trees in the world. There is also an admission fee to go on the walking tour, which we did.
Approximately 3.4 million years ago a volcano eruption at Mount St. Helena caused the trees to become petrified. Many of the petrified trees in the forest have nicknames, including The Queen, which is 8 feet wide and 65 feet long. The Queen was 2,000 years old when the volcano erupted.
As for the Shaw Woods, the trail and surroundings are a good start to show our lumber history. If you’re a senior and have trouble walking, the trails are not for you. There are no places to sit down on the trail. Not that we needed to sit and rest, but since everything was wet when we walked the trail, we couldn’t sit down and admire the forest from a sitting position.
Shaw Woods states: We support the concept of maintaining undisturbed forest areas as living examples of old growth forest available for the study and appreciation of their unique cultural and scientific values.
The Shaw Woods OEC (Outdoor Education Centre) is a registered charitable, not-for-profit organization managed by a board of directors. The Shaw Woods OEC was incorporated in 2010 and has been in the Shaw Family since 1847.
For over a century the site included a working farm with a water-powered saw mill and grist mill. The site includes 50 hectares of old-growth forest and 160 hectares of wetlands and mixed forest and the 14-km network of trails is maintained by a team of volunteers.
The site is open year around, dawn to dusk. There is no charge for parking or access to the site. Washrooms available on site. Cell reception available over much of the site. What’s not to love?
Maynard van der Galien is a Renfrew-area farmer and an agricultural newspaper columnist for 35 years.