Fifty-Six Kids on a Tree Stump

Growing up, my family took a lot of tree stump photos on vacations. Meaning, pictures of my brothers and I sitting on tree stumps.

Our concept of a vacation was a camping trip to somewhere in northern California. As I later learned, backpackers refer to it as "car camping," a demeaning term indicating we drove to state and national parks and pitched a tent next to our car, replete with the luxury of a government-funded faucet and pit toilet. 

A couple of our vacations were to  Redwood National and Humboldt Redwood State Park. Little did I know I would end up living between them.

It’s with that background that I share two historical tree stump photos of the redwood region taken by Augustus Ericson probably around 1900.

Black and white cropped historical photo showing three boys sitting on a tree stump. Click to view the full uncaptioned and very dark image.These images are of Korbel School kids (near Blue Lake, Calif.) sitting on an old growth redwood tree stump. Probably the entire school. Each of them has 56 people posing on a single tree stump. It explains why we call them ancient redwoods.

These images are from the Ericson Photograph Collection in the Online Archive of California.

Incidentally, here’s a discussion thread about why people in old photos don’t smile, and an article on the subject. The reason I accept is that early cameras were slow, so people needed a facial pose that wouldn’t change and make their face blurry. Also, full smiles may have been perceived as fake because, well, they are if you’re only smiling because there’s a camera in front of you.

If redwoods intrigue you, check out our tourism bureau web site and request a free travel guide. When my daughter turns 3-years-old this summer we’ll go on our first camping trip, a thankfully short 30 minute drive for us. I hope by age 4 we’ll be girded for more distant camping.


3 Responses to “Fifty-Six Kids on a Tree Stump”

  1. Monique says:

    I got chills from looking at that picture! So IMPRESSIVE! Thank you for showing all of us! You’ve inspired me…i’m ready to take my kids to see these trees!

    February 6th, 2007 at 3:02 pm

  2. Carol says:

    Gah. You’re making me homesick. *sigh*

    I wish I still lived there. Of course, I’d be poor which is why I don’t live there anymore.

    February 9th, 2007 at 10:58 pm

  3. Catherine says:

    You must not be too far from me. I live in Santa Rosa. I love these photographs. Part of my family were original settlers in Northern California. Part settled In Garberville – out to Black Sand Beach (Shelter Cove). They had a large ranch (The Swithenbank Ranch) and owned the grocery store downtown. My mother has some great old photos.
    We sure seem to be having a lot of micro-earthquakes these days… hmmmm.
    All my best.

    February 11th, 2007 at 11:58 am

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