The "Savior of the Redwoods"

Josephine McCrackin
Josephine Clifford McCrackin, 1838-1904

When her home in the redwoods was destroyed in an 1899 forest fire, Josephine Clifford McCrackin noted that the burned redwoods and their denizens were irreplaceable. That same year, Josephine McCrackin helped Andrew P. Hill organize the Sempervirens Club, which worked to create the first California Redwood Park (now Big Basin Redwoods State Park). 

McCrackin was a Prussian-born writer who had moved to San Francisco from Missouri. Bret Harte published her first article, "Down Among the Dead Letters," in his Overland Monthly in December 1869. In 1880 she used her writing income to build a ranch (Monte Paraiso or Mountain Paradise) among the redwoods at Summit, the Loma Prieta community in the Santa Cruz Mountains. After the fire, the focus of her writings shifted to bird and wildlife sanctuaries, humane causes, and preservation of the redwoods. McCrackin founded and joined many conservation groups, earning herself the nickname “Savior of the Redwoods.”

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