Valley oak and blue oak timber crops in Saratoga

 
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lecycliste



Joined: 24 Sep 2010
Posts: 3
Location: Saratoga

PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 11:08 am      Reply with quote

I'm researching a guided walk on the West Valley College campus to be held in late October with my Park Management 15B interpretation class.

Were valley oak and blue oak important timber crops in Saratoga between 1850 and 1900?

I find references to William Campbell's mill processing coast redwoods from the Santa Cruz Mountains, but so far have seen no mention of timber from the oak woodlands of the Santa Clara Valley. I know land had to be cleared for farms, and I'm sure the cut valley oak, blue oak, and coast live oak weren't wasted.

What happened to cut oak timber in Saratoga?

Thanks.

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chucksch



Joined: 29 Oct 2005
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:43 pm      Reply with quote

Hello Mark,
My research would indicate that there was not a great demand for the oak trees in the Saratoga area as a cash resource. When the lands were cleared for fruit orchard and vineyard use the native trees, madrone, manzanita, and various oak varieties were often cut and burned. Oak and madrone, being hardwoods, were often harvested as cordwood to be used for heating and cooking purposes at that time. It is probable that larger choice oaks may have been used in the making of furniture but more research would have to be done to verify this. There was an early furniture maker in Saratoga, but that venture was short-lived.

The two most commonly harvested trees in the mountains above Saratoga were Douglas Fir and Redwood. This lumber was used in the rapidly expanding needs of the building industry, and were brought through Saratoga down the old Saratoga-Pescadero Turnpike, now that section of Highway 9 from Saratoga to Skyline and beyond. These long and dusty wagon trains through Saratoga continued until the narrow guage railroad was built connecting Boulder Creek to Santa Cruz, making that route more profitable.

Another important tree in the area was Tanoak, the bark of which was harvested because of the high tannic acid content, important in the process of tanning animal hides. Pack trains continued bringing Tanoak bark, as well as cordwoods, down through Saratoga even beyond the time of decline of use of this route by the big lumber wagons.

Thanks for your interest and use of our website! If you find information that might add to the discussion please post a reply.

Chuck Schoppe
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lecycliste



Joined: 24 Sep 2010
Posts: 3
Location: Saratoga

PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 7:28 pm      Reply with quote

Chuck:
Thanks very much for this information. I hadn't thought much about wood for heating and cooking. That's the influence of too much modern living, and temporarily forgetting about my 1960s Boy Scout experience and backpacking in the Sierras.

I'd appreciate anything you can tell me about that early furniture maker in Saratoga.

Also, was there an Ohlone village on or near what later became the Gardner-Kenyon Ranch?

Thanks again.

Mark

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Quito



Joined: 09 Dec 2007
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:20 pm      Reply with quote

If you look at the "Survey of Rancho Quito : Santa Clara Co., Calif. / Charles T. Healy, maker" map from 1861 (URL below);

http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/hb4870051m/?layout=metadata&brand=calisphere

Zoom in on the map to approximately where Argonaut Elementary School currently is (very roughly!) and use the streams and the reference to McCarthysville (downtown Saratoga) to find your way - you will notice a very faint reference to "White Oak Timber Company". If the name corresponds to the type of timber they processed perhaps there was an oak lumber company in Saratoga in 1861!
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