- General Noble Tree
- 1,250 cubic metre(s)
- United States ()
The largest tree ever cut by humans was the General Noble Tree, a giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) from the Converse Basin Grove in the Sierra Mountains of California, USA. Contemporary reports suggest it stood 285 ft (86.9 m) tall and had a diameter of 19 ft 6 in (5.3 m) at a height of 52 ft (15.8 m) off the ground at which the cut was made (with the aid of specially built scaffolding tower), though at the base this increased to a diameter of 26 ft (7.9 m) and a circumference of 81.5 ft (24.8 m). General Noble's total volume is estimated to have been around 1,250 m3 (44,140 cu ft) according to big tree hunter Wendell Flint. It was felled in August 1892 for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition held in Chicago, Illinois, which celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ famous voyage across the Atlantic.
Only five people actually carried out the felling of the tree: "Captain Jamison" (foreman), Burr Mitchell, Will Irwin, Dayton Dickey and Jesse Pattee. In all, the felling and cutting operation took 13 days, starting on 12 August. During the first cross-cut, tragedy almost struck when the main portion of the tree toppled unexpectedly, smashing the scaffolding that the loggers were standing on. Thinking quick, Pattee and his partner had to jump off the scaffold and on to the stump where reports claim "they lay face down, arms and legs spread, for a period of 20 minutes. It took that long for vibrations to cease before they could stand upright..."
Due to criticism of authenticity and rumours of a hoax on some of the previous displays of giant sequoia made from reconstructing a tree using only bark, General Noble was cut to be a two-storey building (containing a carved spiral staircase), complete with cross sections, so there could be no question of legitimacy. After the fair, the two-storey General Noble Tree house was put on display on the National Mall in Washington, DC until it was removed in 1932.
The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair was the most attended public event in history to that point, with more than 700,000 visitors. The fair is noted for the being the inauguration of the first Ferris wheel, a giant 80-m-tall (262-ft) wheel that could hold 2,160 people.
Decades later, A E Douglass (who is now known as the founder of tree-ring research) and associates entered the Converse Basin Grove to examine stumps as indicators of long-term climate patterns. The former General Noble Tree was renamed the "Chicago Stump", and both it and another nearby stump were found to have been more than 3,000 years old when cut. Douglass, who wrote in 1928: “I have measured about one hundred and fifty thousand tree rings”, worked in forests all over the world, but his oldest tree records were from the logged Converse Basin Grove and the partially logged Mountain Home Grove.