Published in the March 14 – 27, 2018 issue of Morgan Hill Life
For the first time, I missed my deadline for this column. My not-so-flimsy excuse is that I became caught up in the exciting news that Santa Clara County Parks has started the planning process to allow public access of the Coyote Highlands property within the next year.
Since 2013, I have been hoping for an opportunity to walk the ridgeline where Charles Kellogg and his wife lived 100 years ago near the top of the Santa Caterina Hills.
So, I dashed off some e-mails to our local rangers and the park planner, barely able to contain my enthusiasm for this development. I even called the Save the Redwoods League office in San Francisco to alert them of this wonderful news. The League is celebrating its centennial anniversary this year and I wanted to make sure they were aware of Charles Kellogg’s vital role in the founding of the Save the Redwoods League.
The story begins in May of 1917, at the height of World War I, and Kellogg is anxious to support the war effort by promoting the sale of bonds and also to lend his showman skills in an effort to stop the slaughter of redwood trees. He concocted a most unusual plan. He contacted the owner of the Nash Motor Company requesting that a Nash Quad truck be delivered to his Morgan Hill ranch. There, he outfitted the chassis with a canvas cover, camping equipment and logging tools. His plan was to transport the Nash Quad to Humboldt County, where the tallest and oldest redwood trees grow, and devote the entire summer to building a redwood camper.
He obtained the permission of the Pacific Lumber Company to select a huge downed redwood near Bull Creek whereupon he, with a couple of helpers, cut a 22-foot section from an 11-foot diameter tree and then began to hollow it out. The scheme Kellogg wished to spotlight was proclaimed in our local newspapers — “Bird Whistler Going For Redwood” read the headline in the San Jose Evening News.
The details of his effort are too lengthy to include with this column. But to say the least, he was shooting for the moon and for public accolades that would last a lifetime with this endeavor.
Simultaneously, the summer gathering of the Bohemian Club near Santa Rosa was happening in August. Members of the Boone and Crockett Club from back east were invited to hobnob with the movers and shakers in California. The first director of the National Park Service, Stephen Mather (a University of California, Berkeley graduate was appointed in 1916 to lead the new Park Service), asked three of his prominent associates to investigate the situation in the redwoods. They were impressed with the trees in the Bohemian Grove but were told that the really big trees were further north in the Humboldt region.
Today, the Save the Redwoods League refers to this outing by Madison Grant, John C. Merriam and Henry Fairfield Osborn as the “Historic Camping Trip.” They arrived at Bull Creek Flat and were overwhelmed as they entered the stand of redwoods. There is not any documentation, but I am sure they found Kellogg shaping his “Travel Log” and their conversation led to the formation of the Save the Redwood League in 1918. Kellogg brought his redwood creation back to his ranch in the east hills of the South Valley, a place he called Kellogg Springs or Ever Ever Land. He diligently detailed the inside of his camper with two beds, a sink, cabinets and even electricity. He then toured the country for a couple of years advocating for the preservation of redwood lands. In my mind, he was Morgan Hill’s most famous resident.
Real estate brochures referred to Kellogg Springs as Coyote Highlands in 2013. And it very well could have become an exclusive residential housing development if Santa Clara County Parks and the Open Space Authority had not stepped in to secure the land. I cannot wait for the planning process to wrap up so that we can walk the ridgeline and swap more Charles Kellogg stories.
Keep on sauntering!
Gilroy resident Mike Monroe is a Morgan Hill business owner and naturalist. He is a docent for Santa Clara County Parks.
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