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Speakers look at history of ‘Jack’s oak’

One of the signature events to honor the Oak Tree known as “Jack’s Oak,” estimated to be up to 400 years old, at Jack London State Historic Park will be a lecture on Thursday, Sept. 12, by noted historian Arthur Dawson and Breck Parkman, senior archaeologist for California State Parks, focusing on the changes that have happened to the area since the tree first appeared.

Ticket for their talk, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the House of Happy Walls Museum at the park costs $10, which includes the parking entrance fee and can be purchased in advance online, at the Museum store or by calling 938-5216.

Limited seating is available.

While the lecture is sure to be informative and full of historical information, Dawson and Parkman will entertain with engaging story-telling to dramatize many of the events that the tree has “seen” during its almost 400 years standing watch over the landscape. They will stir imagination with tales of the settlement of Sonoma Mountain in the 1850s (including the burning of “Redwood” Thompson’s cabin by Mexican freedom fighters), early grape growing and set the scene for Jack London’s discovery of his “Beauty Ranch,” the tree and the beloved place he would make his home.

The lecture is part of several ongoing tributes to the tree, which has reached the end of its life cycle and needs to be removed for safety reasons. Parkman said, “Like Jack London himself, this old tree is a vital part of the cultural landscape, which has long been designated a National Historic Landmark. Unlike London, however, the tree has lived an exceptionally long life, siring untold offspring and nourishing generations of people and wildlife alike. While we are saddened by the tree’s failing health, and the need to remove her, we recognize that this is a natural outcome of a lengthy and rich life. Jack London is gone and yet we keep his memory alive for all who visit the park. We will do the same for this tree.”

For additional information about the Sept. 12 lecture or the status of the oak tree is available at jacklondonpark.com.


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