History of Giant Forest Village


Giant Forest Village was created for peoples enjoyment to experience living and vacationing among the Giant Sequoia Trees. It was the product of NPS first director Stephen Mather and his assistance director Horace Albright, shortly after the National Park Service was created. Stephen Mather liked the lodge concept for his parks and wanted the same for Sequoia, just like Yosemite and Yellowstone NP. Sequoia Park Giant Forest was a beautiful hideway vacation spot in the remote Sierra mountains that attracted visitors from all over. The NPS encouraged visitors to see their new park and made new attractions and improved their roads. In the early 1900s, the first Giant Forest Village was created. This village was in a prestigious (Gem) area in Round Meadow in the middle of a Giant Sequoia Grove. This new village had a dining hall, a lodge, post office, and many camping sites. This village as well as the second revised village (est 1926) was created for people to enjoy quality vacationing among the large Sequoia Trees. This included camping, lodging, basic needs and a place to eat/drink. It was built only for human needs, supplementing the Giant Forest. It was not meant to be the main attraction for coming there. Naturalist John Muir visited Giant Forest and camped with discoverer Hale Tharp. He named it Giant Forest and wrote that it was good to sleep among the big trees. He didn't say just look at them but spend time there including camping. The village was built to be as non interfering and woodsy as possible. The early NPS carefully planned these villages to help make Sequoia a better park and in those days they cared about visitors and people. There are other groves of large Sequoia trees nearby but their remote to the average visitor. One of the great qualities of the village was making a paradise for vacationing away from the stresses of normal life. During the depression of the late 1920's and 30's Giant Forest Village was highly used to help people re-adjust to their hard times and provided a haven to get their minds healed. Somehow Giant Forest has a spirit of peace about it and you get refreshed from what ever stresses you out.  

    Colonel John White was an early Superintendent of Sequoia Park. He saw people at their worst, such as feeding bears from cars and the congestion of automobiles. He favored an area, in the midst of Giant Forest, called Round Meadow that he didn't want destroyed by campers or buildings. Since Colonel White had some control over the growth of the Giant Forest area, he was able to succeed in building a revised Giant Forest Village outside the Round Meadow area. This occurred in the 1920s about the same time they built the General's Highway. They built additional lodging facilities inside the relocated village called the Upper and Lower Kaweah. The Kaweah lodging had motel-style rooms and cabins. The original lodge that wasn't moved (next to Round Meadow) was a thorn to Colonel White. White, being the superintendent for many years, gained power and became somewhat of a demi-god. He made decisions of what suited him as being proper or not. Some of his decisions were good and helped make Sequoia park better.

    Colonel White became an enemy with the head of concession (Howard Hays) about issues of cabin growth and needs. Hays constantly had oppositions with White about needs that came up.  Hays ended up going around White to the Sequoia Park director, Horace Albright for assistance. Director Albright sided with  Hays about supporting personal usage. This caused a feud between White and the head of concession (Hays). Colonel White made it his personal goal to remove all buildings and concessions from the Giant Forest Village. He brought in scientists and environmentalists to study the Giant Forest area so that he could use their data as fuel for his goal of total removal. White had opposition with upper management and the Washington office. His boss, Director Horace Albright, on occasion, would reprimand and counsel White on his duties to provide for the people. White continued with his actions and brought about a new  philosophy of preservation and reduction of usage. Many of the preservation discrepancies concerning usage were over-exaggerated.  The early pioneers, creating Sequoia National Park Giant Forest Village wanted people to enjoy the areas including camping, lodging and educational use. They supported educational nature walks. Colonel White finally, after pestering management, got one of the earlier directors (Newton Drury) during World War II to put out a directive for the removal of the buildings. This directive was later countermanded, in the 1960s, by another director (George Hartzog). For historical purposes, Hartzog directed that "No buildings over 50 years old  be removed". Most of the buildings at Giant Forest Village were registered as historic. Colonel White caused so much commotion about GF removal, he was finally told to retire, this was in 1947. He disturbed many officials in Washington. His preservation movement lived on to finally destroy Giant Forest Village. The speeches, he previously gave to other National Park managers in Washington during training activities, promoted his philosophies of increased preservation and reduced personal usage at a Nationwide level. These philosophies later became part of the "Creed" of the present National Park management system.

    Giant Forest Village survived destruction after Col. White left, but his ideas and philosophies continued through other people. In the early 1950's, certain pro usage people helped gain another 20 year contract of concessions to Giant Forest (keeping the Village alive). One of these champions was "Howard Hays". He started in Giant Forest in the 1920's and helped construct and operate the GF Village. Before the 20 year contract was up, new management was already starting to close down camp grounds in GF. In a few years, all camp sites were closed. The NPS told the public that they were going to close GFV camping for 10 years and then bring it back. This was untruthful (lies), since they didn't bring it back or attempt to. The management created a plan to close the village by removing all buildings including the post office, cabins, restaurant, gift shops, grocery store, bar, Kaweah lodge, Round Meadow Lodge and cafeteria. The park rangers started telling visitors of their plan of building removals and were closed minded to oppositions. One person that became highly instrumental in the closures was NPS William Tweed. He became somewhat of a present day Col. John White, with his influence and power.

    The NPS used shady/corrupt tactics to get the village removed and to destroy it's historic buildings. They ignored the facts that most of the Village buildings were registered under the National Historic Act of 1966 and ignored the directive given by NPS Director George Hartzog about not removing historic buildings. Another, was they might have tainted research (about environmental studies) from outside sources by issuing the research contracts and modulating it toward their desired goal.  As part of their plan to get rid of GFV, they purposely allowed the Giant Forest Sewer system degrade to an unusable condition even though they were funded yearly for its upkeep. They allowed or caused the State of California to do their dirty work of calling for the sewer system unusable. The NPS put out an ultimatum, saying that if they didn't receive 30 million dollars from a outside source to fix the sewer system they would have to close Giant Forest Village. The NPS claimed that the majority of the public wanted the Giant Forest Village removed, but didn't comment or take to heart the number of opposing people that informally expressed their opposition to losing their village. These persons didn't receive invitations or notices to go to the meetings and were probably unable to travel the remote distances, even thought they expressed their oppositions.

    They closed the Giant Forest Village in the late 1990's, including all concessions, lodging and removed most of the buildings. All of the parks gas stations have been taken out, the Wolverton Ski resort taken out and the Wolverton Horse riding station was removed. The easy access parking lot to the Sherman Tree has been removed. The closure of Giant Forest Village is only a part of the increasing cancer directed by certain preservationist that don't care about people. They forgot about the balance of use and preservation (Its a "Park" not a sanctuary). They want to remove our personal usages and take more control of our Parks by using exaggerated statements like we're preserving the trees or lands when in truth the trees have been fine co-existing with people since the village was created in the early 1900's. Don't be mislead, they want to continue to control more which includes taking away auto access and removing more personal access. This is a summary of the rise and fall of Giant Forest Village. If you want your Giant Forest Village returned, contact your Congressman, Senator or President Bush for its return. The Secretary of the Interior's office and the NPS directors office does not want to help. Sequoia Park and Giant Forest areas belong to you and all Taxpayers. Also contact Congressman Devin Nunes or Congressman George Radanovich for help. For more detailed information, join our Yahoo group and see more pictures.


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Updated 02/20/07