Crannell Giant Was Larger Than General Sherman

In the right hand column is the only known picture of Crannell Giant, a coast redwood (sequoia sempervirens). It was larger than General Sherman, a giant sequoia (sequoiadendron giganteum). Despite the trunk only being a little over 6 m (20 ft) diameter at breast height, this tree's trunk was very columnar, such that it was still over 4.3 m(14 ft) thick at 71.3 m (234 ft) above the ground. Also included is a letter of authentication from Emanuel Fritz stating Captain Elam as a qualified surveyor. Fritz is believed to be in the photograph according to the BLM curators. Addtionaly, according to Mario Vaden's research, the man in the center of the photograph with the chiseled features is probably Fritz.

Even with distortion, this redwood did indeed have a slow taper. No giant 20'+ dbh redwood alive today has this type of profile. As far as published material is concerned, authentification by Emanuel Fritz himself is as good as any published documentation about the redwoods. Frtiz was like the John Muir of Humboldt County and widely regarded as the most reputable redwood scientist of the time.

It should also be noted that this massive redwood tree discovered on Little River Redwood Company land in 1926 was one of the largest trees by volume ever recorded for any species of tree. It grew along the banks of Maple Creek, which empties into Big Lagoon. Dubbed, "Crannell Giant", it was also known as the "Maple Creek Tree" and also the "Captain Elam Tree". See... ( Fortunately, a single very high quality photographs of this tree still exist today in the Blue Lake Museum. Just as the Lumberman Magazine reports, the photograph in the Blue Lake Museum shows a tree with virtually NO a giant parthanon column. A cookie of this tree makes up the entire northern wall of the "One Log tree House" tourist attraction on Broadway Street in Eureka California. A sign below the cross-cut details its origination as being from the Maple Creek Tree and the Crannell area. Here is a partial list of height/diameters taken by Little River Redwood Company surveyors in 1926. This information is from Lumberman Magazine, October 1926, page 109.

	(outside bark)	  (inside bark - extrapolated)   (est. merchantable timber)
HT(ft)	DIAM(ft)	VOLUME(ft³)   HT(ft)	DIAM(ft)	VOLUME(ft³)	Bd Ft
0	21.5	1730.0	   0	18.77	1318.5			
5	20.47	5300.8	   5	17.87	4039.9		34,347
21.4	20.1	5106.3	   21.4	17.55	3891.6		33,075
37.8	19.72	4915.4	   37.8	17.22	3746.2		31,827
54.2	19.35	4728.2	   54.2	16.89	3603.5		30,603
70.6	18.97	4544.6	   70.6	16.56	3463.6		29,403
87	18.6	4364.6	   87	16.23	3326.4		28,227
103.4	18.22	4188.3	   103.4	15.91	3192.0		27,075
119.8	17.84	3910.1	   119.8	15.58	2980.0		25,392
136.2	17.0	3660.6	   136.2	14.84	2789.9		23,763
152.6	16.72	3478.7	   152.6	14.59	2652.0		22,188
169	16.15	3245.2	   169	14.10	2473.2		20,667
185.4	15.59	3018.9	   185.4	13.61	2300.8		19,200
201.8	15.03	2872.2	   201.8	13.12	2189.0		18,724
218.2	14.84	2695	   218.2	12.95	2053.9		16,875
234.6	14.09	3813.6	   234.6	12.3	1906.4
308	0	0	   308	0	0

Total Volume =	61,573 ft³			45,927 ft³		361,366 bf

In the 1926 Lumberman article, the inside the bark measurements were also approximated along with a merchantable timber estimate of 30,133 ft³ or 361,166 board feet. Numerous publications incorrectly list the merchantable board feet of the Maple Creek Tree (AKA Crannell Giant, AKA Captain Elam Tree) as being the total gross volume. In "Silvical Characteristics of Redwood" by Douglass Roy, 1966 and also a United States Agriculture publication #295 from 1938, an incorrect comparison of General Sherman and Maple Creek Trees are given with General Sherman having over 600,000 bd ft of lumber vs. only 361,366 for Maple Creek Tree. Apples are being compared to oranges here because the figure for Maple Creek tree only represents the merchantable timber which is typically only 1/2 the gross volume of a redwood or even less. The true Gross volume for Maple Creek Tree was at a minimum 61,573 or 738,876 board ft. of gross trunk volume...about 25% larger than General Sherman. Sadly this tree was logged shortly after WW-II. This volume also does not include any trunk above 234'. The original volume of Crannell Giant..AKA Maple Creek Tree could easily have been 70,000 cubic feet, but for docmentation purposes the Tall Trees Club records the total volume of 61,573 ft³ as a minimum trunk volume only figure. The lack of height/diameter data above 234.6' could easily be explained by a broken top with a small leader growing another 73 feet upward. This type of crown morphology is extremely common in large broken top redwoods such as Terrex Titan, Big Tree, Giant Tree and many others.

The Maple Creek Tree was the original AFA champion coast redwood (sequoia sempervirens), listed all the way into the late 1940's as the biggest redwood but grossly underestimated in volume by listing the confusing "merchantable timber term". Perhaps this slighting of the Maple Creek Tree's volume was intentional ? Too bad at least 4 books published around WW-II incorrectly list this tree as being less than 1/2 it's true volumetric size, especially when compared to General Sherman.

Despite these gargantuan proportions reported for the Maple Creek Tree, there may have been even larger Coast Redwoods grew not far away. One tree along Lindsay Creek in Fieldbrook, dubbed "Lindsay Creek Tree", was described in a Humboldt Times Standard article from 1905 (copy of article to be posted in March newsletter), was supposed to have been so large it could not be felled with an axe or saw. It was left standing by Vance Logging Company, but later fell over by 1905 and was to be photographed and logged. The diameter of this enormous redwood was said to be 19 ft at 130 ft off the ground ! And was to yield approximately 535,000 board feet of merchantable timber... The total merchantable yield as well as diameter of 19' at 130' off the ground is significantly larger than the maple creek tree. Total volume of this tree must have been close to 90,000 cubic feet, but there is no way to prove this. The newspapers described the exact location and states that the fallen giant will soon be photographed. I have not been able to locate a photograph of this tree so far but there probably is a photograph of the fallen giant somewhere. I see no reason for a hoax as it was the offical newspaper of the region and it gave specific directions for all to see the tree before it was processed for milling.

Another giant redwood that was standing as of 1914 near Eureka was 26 feet in diameter at 7' off the ground and said to be 261' to the first branch, where the tree was still 11' in diameter. Total merchantable yield for this tree, dubbed "Eureka Tree" was said to be 344,000 board feet, but surely the gross trunk volume was much larger, probably comparable to the Maple Creek Tree. This is from Humboldt Record (October 25, 1914, page 40). "A redwood tree near Eureka California, was 380 feet high, 26 feet in diameter seven feet from the ground, 261 feet to the first limb, where the diameter was 11 feet, and scaled more than 344,000 board feet (merchantable). Another account of this tree was in the Lumberman Magazine from about the same time frame as the Humboldt Recorder. It reads as follows: News item about a tree to be felled: 380 ft. in height, 26 ft. in diameter, 7 feet above the ground. Scales 334,000 ft.:50% to sell at #35 M [M = 1000], 30% at $18, the remainder at $8. Total value at more than $9000. Today, this lumber in this tree alone would be worth over $10 million. The diameters at 7' and 261' above ground, as well as the merchantable timber estimates hint towards this being significantly bigger than General Sherman by trunk volume.

Another tantalizing account again comes from the Daily Humboldt Times, July 24, 1911 titled " Blue Lake People Eager to Save World's Giant - Forest King Faces Death ". The article reads as follows: "Blue Lake, July 24 - Many people of this locality are much exercized over the near destruction of one of the greatest redwood trees in Humboldt County - Or in the world for that matter. A few weeks, so woodsman report, will see the wonderful Big Tree of Canyon Creek felled like any common redwood. This remarkable tree is estimated to be 30 feet in diameter and 300 feet high. It stands several hundred yards back from the country road above the bridge and the choppers are now nearing the ancient and towering redwood.

There has been some talk in starting a movement to try and induce the owners, the Northern Redwood Lumber Company to save this big tree as sort of landmark. It grows in so protected a situation that it is believed it would stand for the next couple of centuries without being blown over. Now that the Standard for years has been backing the Redwood Park movement and advising Humboldt County to save, at any cost, a representative grove of noble redwoods for the use and enjoyment of future generations, why not advocate saving at least one of these noble redwoods, the biggest redwood tree in the world as an object of perpetual interest.

It seems to me the Northern Redwood Company would make quite a popular move if it saved this noble tree. It would be a splendid natural wonder worth a trip to see. People could leave Korbel in an auto in the morning and go see the biggest of the redwood trees and then return in time for dinner. Most counties in California are careful to preserve their natural curiosities and wonders. They are even accused of fixing them up for the occasion, sometimes. Hre in Humboldt, Nature has done everything. Then why not preserve at least some of her handwork ? ".

While interesting, there is no way to know just how big this Canyon Creek tree really was. In the case of the 1926 logging report from Lumberman Magazine, we have some of the is the best evidence to date that coast redwood (sequoia sempervirens) was the largest living thing on Earth and exceeded even the Giant Sequoia (sequioadendron giganteum) in total size.

1940's Photograph of Crannell Giant, AKA Captain Elam Tree, AKA Maple Creek Tree. It was still over 14' thick at 200' off the ground. Emanuel Fritz is probably the man in the center. Permission to photograph and post on this website provided by the Blue Lake Museum.

Discovered and surveyed by Captain Elam in 1926 and later authenticated by Emanuel Fritz, the Maple Creek Tree was estimated to contain at least 61,573 ft³ of gross wood volume. Chiseled profile is likely that of Fritz according to Blue Lake Museum curators. The shoulder pouch possibly holds his trusty and famous increment bore. Click image to enlarge detail.

Photograph of Fritz letter authenticating tree and testifying to Captain Elam's qualifications as a competent timber cruiser. Photographed by permission of the Blue Lake Museum

Directions from Google Maps on how to find and contact the Blue Lake Museum

Estimated location of the Crannell Giant based on available archival evidence

Online References For The Crannell Giant, Maple Creek & Captain Elam Trees