Early in the 20th century, women’s civic groups around California organized a statewide campaign to protect the redwoods in Humboldt County. In response, the California Federation of Women’s Clubs purchased a grove of giant redwoods next to the South Fork of the Eel River. In 1931, renowned San Francisco architect Julia Morgan, designer of the Hearst Castle, fashioned a monument to celebrate saving the grove from the logger’s saw. Morgan’s monument stands today in the Federation’s grove, a peculiar four-sided hearth that features fireplaces facing each direction.
Officially called the California Federation of Women’s Clubs Hearthstone, it was built of native stone and redwood timber. Morgan’s biographer wrote that the hearthstone is a symbol for “the untouched nature of the forest and the Federation’s scrupulous protection of this heritage.” The California Federation of Women’s Clubs Grove is easy to reach by car, and is a popular picnic place that includes two solid redwood picnic tables big enough to accommodate a family reunion. There is also a popular swimming hole by the grove.
Where: Take Avenue of the Giants about 3 miles north from the Visitor Center. A sign marks a narrow road that runs to the west several hundred yards into the forest, to a parking lot. The hearthstone sits under several tall trees, a few feet back from a bank that overlooks the Eel River.