The Wonder Stump

Sometime in the 1880s, a local logging operation slashed and burned the forest a few miles northwest of Crescent City. Great stumps were left behind in the wake of the blaze.

There was one called “the Wonder Stump,” and around 60 years it was well-known in the area. It was located near Wonder Stump Road, where I’d hang out with my friend Walt Whitehurst, when we were still in high school.

There are a good many post cards of “the Wonder Stump,” some are photos, still others artist renderings, but all old and out of print. I’ve seen a number of these while researching the history of “the Wonder Stump.”

The oldest postcard of “the Wonder Stump,” I’ve located dates back to 1889. It’s a colorized drawing that looks more cartoonish than a real phenomenon of nature.

Meanwhile, “the Wonder Stump,” if you haven’t figured it out by now, got its name from the fact that it was a huge stump. The tree that came from the stump must have been massive and even more impressive than what remained of its stump.

One black and white photograph, taken in the late 1920s to early 1930s, shows the stump, with its nine-foot wide flat-top, growing over an eight-foot wide log. A description of “the Wonder Stump,” is noted in the ecological online journal, “Cathedral Grove:”

“Big stumps were admired for their indestructible qualities. A famous example is the Del Norte Wonder Stump.

It represents two generations; the upright stump was from a redwood estimated to be 1500 years in age when it was cut down for wood products. The tree had sprouted from a fallen redwood “nurse log” which was eight ft in diameter and about 1000 years old.

Remarkably it was ‘still sound’ and it too was taken to the sawmill. The stump was too large to be destroyed by the subsequent slash burning of the land and it remained as a landmark.”

What else is there to wonder about “the Wonder Stump?”

One report has it no one knows where that stump is actually located and the last known “sighting” was supposed to have been in the mid-1990s.  The other is the stump is alive, but in “a general state of natural decay” on private property within the Wonder Stump Road area.

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