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Conservationist Converts Redwood Tree into Motor Home


When a redwood tree 11 feet in diameter fell in 1917 on the Eel River of Humboldt County, the Pacific Lumber Company donated it to vaudeville performer Charles “Birdman” Kellogg.  He built a motor home out of the hollowed tree and traveled the East Coast awaking public sentiment against the depletion of Northern California’s giant redwoods.

It was not easy to hollow the log for habitation. Kellogg camped at the site, peeled the bark, and punched out the core of a 22-foot section of the tree by battering it with a three-quarter-inch water pipe affixed to a Nash Quad truck. Kellogg smoothed the inside with hand tools. The unseasoned shell was estimated to weigh 6,000 pounds.

Kellogg drove his truck into a large trench in the forest floor, where he eased the log into the truck bed.  He shipped the loaded truck by train to his ranch in Morgan Hill.

Kellogg worked the rest of the summer adding windows, beds, a small kitchen and bathroom, and wired the log for electricity. His work completed, Kellogg used his “Travel Log” motor home in his vaudeville act and to call attention to the shrinking redwood groves.


Evarts, John, and Marjorie Popper, eds. Coast Redwood A Natural and Cutural History. Los Olivos, CA: Cachuma Press, 2001. 134-35. Print.

Shockey has been a long-time JPR contributor and enjoys supporting the Southern Oregon Historical Society and JPR by digging up regional stories.