“Impromptu Ball on the Stump of a Sequoia”

sequoia cotillion -- anonymous

In 1853, workmen felled the Mammoth Tree in the North Calaveras Grove of giant sequoias in California’s Gold Country. The stump measured 24 feet wide at its base, and a ring count showed it was 1,244 years old.

James M. Hutchings writes in Scenes of Wonder and Curiosity in California (1862):

“Upon this stump, however incredible it may seem, on the 4th of July, thirty-two persons were engaged in dancing four sets of cotillions at one time, without suffering any inconvenience whatever; and besides these, there were musicians and lookers-on.”

I’ve found three independent accounts of this, but no record of who proposed the dance. The stump’s still there, in what is now Calaveras Big Trees State Park — it’s now known as the Discovery Tree.