November 03, 2009

Samuel P. Taylor State Park

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

A few years ago the State Park System decided to shorten the name of Samuel P. Taylor State Park to just plain old Taylor State Park, and if I knew who to complain to -- I would.   Heck, half the fun of visiting the Samuel P. Taylor State Park was just saying his name.

So, who was this Samuel P. Taylor, anyway?   No -- not Andy's father or Opie's gramps -- but good answer...   Actually, the park is named after Samuel Penfield Taylor, who came to California from Boston in 1849 to try his luck in the gold rush.   He actually found gold, cashed in, and entered the lumber business.

Purchasing 100 acres of timberland along Papermill (a.k.a. Lagunitas) Creek, Taylor built a paper mill and established a paper-making process. Using scrap paper and rags from San Francisco the mill produced newsprint and well as square-bottomed paper bags -- a novelty at the time.

We can thank God that redwood trees do not make very good paper.   Taylor was interested in the abundant stands of fir trees for paper-pulp production.   Some of the foundations of his water-powered paper mill still exist.

Taylor built a resort hotel and Camp Taylor, one of the first sites in the US to offer camping as a recreational pursuit.   The area was one of California's most popular and well-known weekend recreation destinations in the 1870s-80s.

Taylor died on January 22, 1886, and his family lost the mill and resort in the Panic of 1893.   However, a 1910 newspaper advertisement for the "Camp Taylor Resort," touting its dance pavilion and on-site grocery and butcher, indicates that the resort continued to operate.   The mill burned down in 1916, and in 1945 the State of California took possession of the property for non-payment of taxes.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

I mentioned above that Samuel P. Taylor spared the redwoods -- they were of no value to him for paper, but that is not to say that others didn't come along and harvest almost every single redwood tree for lumber.   San Francisco needed wood.

Most all the redwood trees in the park today are only about 100 years old and have sprouted from the stumps the loggers left behind.   Fortunately, redwood trees grow fast and you'd barely know that most of the old-growth forest has vanished.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

It being Halloween and all, I couldn't resist trying to shoot this spider web.   BOO.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

This is the creek with two names -- it answers to both "Papermill Creek" and "Lagunitas Creek".   Lagunitas means "little lagoons" in Spanish.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

I consider this sort of shot my specialty.   You can see lots more of these on what I call my "big" site at:

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Your comments are invited and welcome.


photowannabe said...

Thanks for the information and history on one of my favorite haunts of my past. I'm so glad that the Redwoods weren't wiped out completely.

Rhett Redelings said...

Love the spider web photo. It's perfect!

Louise said...

Next-to-last creek scene--amazing. I prefer to refer to it as Lagunitas and am so glad a stinky paper mill is no longer there. Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against paper in general, but I'm not a fan of paper mills. I had NO idea the redwoods were so "young." Love to learn interesting things!

brthomas said...

I like your photos and videos of Lagunitas Creek. Water in motion is facinating in so many ways. There was not much water flowing when I hiked at Samuel P. Taylor State Park. I got some photos of the forest and the distant views from the Fire Lookout area while hiking. Photo gallery Samuel P. Taylor State Park.

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