This post is an introduction to Bev Wanlin, who is writing a guest article for Conservation Sense and Nonsense about her family’s long relationship with eucalyptus. Her story begins in Chile, where her ancestors lived before coming to the East Bay in 1849, but I must not steal her thunder with more than that tidbit. Stay tuned for the full story.
While Bev completes her guest article, I am publishing her brief report about the many old eucalypts that have been saved in Pinole, where she lives. Bev’s narrative also explains the many important roles that eucalyptus plays in California. Thanks, Bev, for keeping tabs on the eucalyptus forests in Pinole that are constantly threatened by the hardcore nativists who demand that they be destroyed.
View of downtown area of Pinole, CA, in 1960. Noticing the long line of Eucalyptus trees going west to east towards the top of the photo, I decided to search the area and try to locate what was left of them. Courtesy of Pinole Historical Society
I found an old Blue Gum Eucalyptus stand above the Sante Fe Trestle built of wood in 1899-1900 on Tennent Ave. between San Pablo Ave. and the Bay. The Sante Fe ran through Pinole early on.
The Eucalyptus trees were planted on each side of the railroad tracks. This BNSF train seems like it’s emerging from a Eucalyptus forest. But taken from a different angle, (#4) you can see how far apart the rows are.
The rows of trees possibly were planted as a windbreak, or maybe to muffle the noise from the train engines. [Webmaster: I have taken the Capital Corridor Amtrak train to UC Davis many times and am familiar with that stretch of the trip. It is always a treat to pass through that small forest of old trees.]
Very close to the tracks in Pinole (#5) a double row of trees has been converted to a very nice walking trail behind houses in the city of Hercules.
The old trees now line San Pablo Ave. that runs through Hercules to the town of Rodeo. The train tracks, still in use today, run along side.
The RR tracks run through Hercules where nearby town homes have been built (on the left).
Nearby off of Hercules Ave (heading north, then turning right onto Zeus) you’ll find an interesting condo community (150+) that chose not to cut down the old growth Eucalyptus trees (possibly offspring from the original Eucalypts planted next to the tracks). The condo development is called Olympian Hills. I found it to be a wonderful combination of conservation and beauty!
They left the Eucalyptus stand to form a natural fence line for their community park/playground.
They left the lineup of Eucalyptus to act as a windbreak and to provide much needed shade for their tennis courts.
They left stands of Eucalyptus around the condos for wildlife cover and a great view from their windows!
On the hillsides next to the condo buildings, they left the old growth not only to provide a windbreak, but erosion control and soil stability.
A Grand Ol’ Blue Gum standing tall — Beauty and Conservation all in the same place!! [ Webmaster: Pictures were taken at Olympian Village just 2 weeks ago. It’s wonderful to see them thriving at a time of severe drought, when most trees are showing signs of stress.]
Photos and captions by Bev Wanlin, Pinole, California