Gigantic Redwoods Saved for Posterity by William Kent

by Laurie Thompson

Kent Family at Muir Woods. William Kent is on the far right. Anne T. Kent California Room Collection.

In honor of their centennial, we’d like to shine a spotlight on a local Marin County hero: William Kent.

Among William Kent’s many contributions to the County and the Nation was his gift of Redwood Canyon to the United States Government so that it could be preserved as a National Monument.

The January 25, 1908 Sacramento Union reported:

One of the most public-spirited gifts ever made to the Government has come from William Kent of Chicago, who has just deeded to the United States 295 acres of primeval redwood forest on the southern slope of Mt. Tamalpais, about six miles from the city of San Francisco.

The land was deeded to the government with the approval of Forester Gifford Pinchot, chief of the United States Forest Service….

This means that more of California’s giant redwoods will be saved for the scientific study and pleasure of the whole country, in fact, the whole world, for the great sequoias are only found in the Golden State…. The land is said to have cost Mr. Kent $47,000. some years ago, but its stands of redwood timber alone is now valued at more than $150,000.

The canyons of Tamalpais, which drain into the San Francisco Bay, were cut clean years ago, and the redwood obtained from them went into the construction of the old San Francisco. The giants on the tract to be known as Muir Woods, escaped the ax, however….

It is the intention to name the national monument ‘Muir Woods’ after John Muir, the noted naturalist. The giants of Redwood Canyon will now be given permanent protection…. The chief reason for the permanent protection of the land by the Government is that there is no other redwood grove in the whole world more accessible to so many people….

Originally published at



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Anne T. Kent California Room

Anne T. Kent California Room


The official Medium account of the archive of Marin County history & culture at the Marin County Free Library