A Wide Spot on the Avenue–History Preserved

Bolling grove on the Avenue of the Giants

Light from a January sun streamed into the Bolling Grove last Saturday. [All photos by Kym Kemp]

The ancient redwoods preserved along the Avenue of the Giants are only part of the history held within its quiet groves.

Bolling Grove light through tree

The pale gold light shining into a silent cathedral of trees in a mere wide spot along the roadway this weekend illuminated a chunk of moss-covered grey rock set with a large plaque.Bolling monument

“This Grove is dedicated to the memory of Col. Raynal C. Bolling S.C. USA–Lawyer–Patriot–Soldier,” reads the inscription in part.

Bolling monument closeBolling was the first high-ranking American officer to die in WWI.

Colonel Raynal Cawthorne Bolling

Colonel Raynal Cawthorne Bolling [Photo by Bain (Library of Congress) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

In 1918, Bolling was headed with his driver, Private Paul L. Holder, towards the front lines in northern France to find a hill where he could overlook a battlefield. He and his driver were ambushed by German soldiers. The two jumped from the car and, according to Wikipedia, “took cover in separate shell holes, which were connected by a ditch that enabled Bolling to see Holder.” After extended machine gun fire, German soldiers approached and shot the unarmed Holder.

According to Wikipedia, “Bolling shot and killed the German with his revolver. The other soldier killed Bolling with two shots, one to the chest and the other to the head.” Holder survived by playing dead but eventually was captured.

But, beyond the slice of history preserved of a world at war, the Bolling Grove also preserves some of humanity’s attempts to hold onto the majesty of the large swaths of forest that once covered this area. The grove is the very first one set aside and protected by Save the Redwoods, an organization that would later help establish the California State Park system. Bolling Grove became a part of that system.Bolling Grove light and tree

Besides protecting the past, the quiet grove creates a place to explore and play for kids and those with kidlike sensibilities.Elk Creek rushes through ferny banks and around mossy stones. The Avenue of the Giants passes over it on a narrow old bridge with plenty of flat area under it for playing pirate and walk the plank.

After crossing under the highway, look for this pocket tree. Let a child clamber in for a fun photo.

Coming from either the north or the south, look for the road sign for Eel Rock and Fort Seward on your right. A paved parking area is on the east side of the Avenue. Drive the whole Avenue or heading south on 101 get off in Myers Flat and drive south a little less than five minutes. Or, heading north on 101 get off at the Miranda exit, turn left on the Avenue of the Giants and drive a bit more than 10 minutes.

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26 comments

  • unbridled phillistine

    So beautiful! The Redwoods are the bees knees. Just think we could be living in one of those fly over states like Nebraska or maybe a place like Utah or East Nevada what a shithole. Nice to appreciate where I live.

    • Your “shithole” comment is hypocritical at best, more like the pot calling the kettle black meme. When was the last time you flew over Southern Humboldt?

    • HSU student of yester year

      I feel Sorry for you that you cannot see the beauty in Eastern NV and UT. Blind to landscape beauty, you only see vegetation as beautiful. Guessing geology was never a strong attraction to you!

  • Love the Ave. Love the Redwoods!! Nothing on earth like it!!!

  • Sometimes it’s hard to slow down enough to appreciate what’s right around you thanks for sharing the precious moments in the Redwoods The Majestic Giants thanks save the Redwoods guess you been around awhile to

  • amimissingsomething

    Thank you Kym!!! Beautiful…

  • So what does he have to do with California???

  • Thanks for the nice article KYM . I’ve lived here for 50 years and there is so much history about Humboldt county I still don’t know about. Please do more articles about history and places in SO.HUM.

    • If you have a favorite place, let me know. That way maybe I get a tip on someplace cool to go and I can write it up for other’s to enjoy.

      • I think it’s called Lady Bird Johnson’s Grove it’s up the bald Hills Road just a little ways haven’t been there in a while but want to go back up and visit late spring Fern Canyon is a nice place to visit usually a herd of elk there also at Needle Rock and usual beach some of the best places probably still haven’t been to yet the lighthouse on the Lost Coast Northside by Petrolia Beach the Sally Bell Grove that Richard helped protect in the usual wilderness the top of Hull Mountain is a pretty awesome place only a few will get to in Mendocino by Lake Pillsbury the headwaters of the main stem of the Eel River the hole in the bucket is pretty interesting too PG&E generating facility at the bottom the biggest water diversion on the Eel River

      • Here is another historic beauty: Mahan loop trail that spurs off of Founders loop. Keep an eye out for the albino redwood.

        • I love Founder’s Loop but have never done Mahan Loop. Thanks for the tip!

          • You have to look hard to see it — sometimes it’s fuller than other times. Go clockwise on the Mahan Plaque trail (from the Dyerville Giant #8 on the Founders’ Loop) and when you get close to the hillside and start skirting it, there’s a plaque on a rock on your right commemorating James and Laura Mahan, early local supporters of redwood preservation. Not much farther along the trail on the right, but off the trail a ways is the white redwood — but, please, do NOT walk up to it if you can possibly resist. Then if you continue on the trail you should loop back to the Founder’s Loop where you started. But — DISCLAIMER — I have not been on this trail for a couple of years, and a lot of stuff falls on the trails in the winter so it may be more difficult than I make it sound. You could ask at the Visitor Center (on the Ave between Myers Flat and Weott, open every day 10-4).
            Thank you for the beautiful pix of Bolling Grove. Outstanding!!

  • People drive to Eureka once or twice a week. Or once every two weeks but they never stop to take a walk through the the redwoods. A nice quick stop is the Founders Grove right at South Fork. And there are bathrooms there to take pee. Sorry no coffee but it is a real nice walk in a short loop. And the good part is I have never seen a tweaker there.

  • Neato! Looks like a daytrip coming up soon for me!

  • I had a little chuckle to myself, as I loaded your prime photo of the Redwood tree. It was (without sound) a click, click, click, click…..as the very tall tree loaded.
    Thanks for the info. I’ll look for the spot. What a wonderful assignment…go walk in the redwoods, take pictures, give a little story. Well played Kym. Well played.

  • Liberal hypocrisy

    We meet on the Avenue, it’s a beautiful day warm and sunny. As the sun filters through the trees it lights up your face and I see the beautiful glow in your eyes. I take a chance and reach for your hand as we touch I feel the spark.
    We walk hand-in-hand down the Meandering Fern line path beneath the canopy of the Majestic redwood trees. We come upon the stream of cool water I dip down my hand and bring it up across your forehead and watch as the water drips down your cheek I lean in with my lips and capture the water. I slowly work my lips ever so gently to yours and move my hands up under your hair around your ears and my fingers trace lines into your hair. As our lips touch and I hold you firmly we feel the fire in the burning lust of the moment and the beauty that is around us.
    Oh sorry that happens every time I think about the Redwood forests.

  • I like to sit out in an old growth forest on a foggy or rainy day. And listen to the redwoods talk “crooooaak” , “Criiiiuk” to each other. I guess that’s weird, but that’s ok.

  • Journalism at its best Kym. And beautiful pictures to help remind us what a sweet spot we live in. Thank you!

  • Beautiful Story. I’m a Veteran & I enjoy reading stories like this from WWI. Thank you Kym!

  • clambering around the redwoods in my kidlike sensibility mode

  • Nice story. I would like to know the post mile where the Grove is located. I’m hoping this is the first story of a series.

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