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LOS GATOS (KPIX 5) — In 1903, Theodore Roosevelt became the first sitting U.S. President to visit Campbell. Through the remarkable efforts of one woman, people can still see the legacy of that visit more than a century later.
At Vasona Lake County Park, a small crowd gathered on Friday to honor a California redwood tree and Lilyann Brannon of the Campbell Garden Club, the woman who saved it.
“It suffered through so many things and it’s still here,” she said. “The planet would not be the same if we did not have Sequoia Sempervirens.”
The tree was originally part of one planted by Roosevelt back in 1903. It was planted about five miles away on Winchester Boulevard, only to be cut down in 1964 to make way for a gas station.
Brannon wasn’t having it. She contacted public works and the garbage company to find out where the debris had gone.
It took some digging at the county dump, but they found the remains.
“He said ‘Lady, here’s your stump,'” Brannon recalled.
From that stump, a new sapling spawned a second chance, a tree reborn that now stands 50 feet tall.
Now – in the shade of the tree – a plaque recounts Roosevelt’s visit to a small California town – and Lilyann Brannon’s remarkable effort to keep that history alive.
“This is just a remnant of what should have been,” Brannon said.
Teddy Roosevelt – the man who gave us our national parks – once said that when he was in California he was “West of the west.” Now, thanks to a handshake across time, Roosevelt’s legacy lives on – in something that could not be more identifiably Californian.
“Indefinitely. As long as the rest of you take care of it,” Brannon said.
The tree and the plaque are located right by the administration building at the park.