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Discovery Magazine 11/1/2005


Big, Bold, and Beautiful

They believe he was alive and well during the days that Jesus walked the Earth 2,000 years ago. He had already been living in North America hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus’ famous voyage to the Americas in 1492. He’s lived through many wars, including the Civil War, World War I and World War II, and is still alive and well today. His name is General Sherman. However, “he” is actually an “it.”
General Sherman is a giant sequoia tree named after the Union Army Civil War General, William Tecumseh Sherman, who died in 1841. Scientists believe that General Sherman (the tree) has been planted firmly in the ground (and growing!) for more than 2,000 years. It lives in Sequoia National Park, east of Fresno, California.
General Sherman is almost as high (275 feet) as a football field is long (300 feet). And, while most trees we commonly see growing in our yards (especially in the southern part of the United States, where I live) are about 2 to 3 feet in diameter, General Sherman is a whopping 37 feet wide at its base. In certain places, its bark alone is up to three feet thick. And, if that’s not impressive enough, consider that the diameter of its largest branch is nearly 7 feet.
General Sherman may not be the oldest, tallest, or even the widest tree in the world, but it is the largest tree known to man. When the overall mass of General Sherman is calculated (taking into account its height, diameter, and girth), scientists estimate that it weighs about 2,700,000 pounds. The largest animal ever known to live on Earth is the blue whale, which has been known to reach weights of nearly 400,000 pounds. So General Sherman is almost 7 times the size of the largest animal on Earth.
It is an amazing and breath-taking experience to stand at the base of General Sherman and gaze all the way up its trunk. Its existence should remind us of how awesome our God really is. Just think, on day three of Creation, God spoke all trees into existence, that soon produced seeds, which, in turn, grew into other trees “after their kind” (Genesis 1:11-13). Over time, one particular seed fell in the forests of east central California, which eventually grew up to be the largest tree in the world.
 



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