Tue January 7, 2014
Giant Oak Once Towered Over Bidwell Park in Chico, Calif.
On March 1, 2013, vandals burned portions of a large stump, about eight feet in diameter and held together by metal bars. The stump is all that remains of a famous valley-oak tree in Chico, Calif.
Annie Bidwell named it in 1887 after the English botanist, Sir Joseph Hooker, director of the Royal Botanical Gardens. The tree stood in Bidwell Park near the current upper park entrance until it fell on May 1, 1977. Although it was once thought to be a thousand years old when it fell it was discovered that two 325-year-old trees had melded into a single trunk and grown to 100 feet high and 29 feet in circumference. The longest branch was 11 feet from tip to trunk, and the branch canopy had a circumference of nearly 500 feet. It was said there was room for 7,000 people to stand under the canopy. A California forest lab discovered the tree contained high-density “tension wood,” that was roughly 50 percent heavier than surrounding oaks.
The giant oak gained fame when Errol Flynn and his band gathered under its branches in the film titled Adventures of Robin Hood.