The Nation’s Christmas Tree


As the nation’s symbol of Christmas joy and goodwill, the General Grant giant redwood tree in King’s Canyon is an icon of glory and splendor. Standing above 267 feet and measuring 33 feet in diameter at the base, this magificent tree has seen the decades go by like days on a calendar. The General Grant redwood tree is over 3,500 years old and stands in a grove of equally magnificent trees, a solitary reminder of the once massive forest which it was once a part of.

The General Grant belongs to the species of redwood trees named Sequoia Gigantea and is the second largest of its kind. The largest Sequoia is the General Sherman which stands only four feet higher. So massive is the General Grant that if one were to cut it into lumber, it would fill 28 boxcars.

This tree was fortunately spared from the fate that took the toll of many others like it from the massive lumbering venture that took place in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The General Grant was first discovered by Joseph Hardin Thomas in the 1860’s and was named General Grant by Lucretia P. Parker of Porterville in 1867.


Its nickname as the nation’s Christmas tree came about when a little girl visiting the trees with her father asked if it would take a lot of lights to make it their Christmas Tree. R. J. Senior of Sanger overheard this and later mentioned the possibility of making the General Grant Sanger’s Christmas Tree. Charles E. Lee of Sanger’s Chamber of Commerce further suggested that it be made the nation’s Christmas tree. After vigorous promotion of the idea, the U. S. Department of the Interior formally dedicated the tree as the Nation’s Christmas tree on April 28th, 1926 and was officially made a National Shrine by an Act of Congress.

The General Grant stands in the middle of the General Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. Its venerable spirit can be felt by all those who see this gigantic tree up close. To many, the General Grant symbolizes the true meaning of Christmas, the attainment of eternal life.