“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Klamath in Del Norte County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

The End of the Trail

End of the Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, September 18, 2021
1. End of the Trail Marker

James Earle Fraser and his End of the Trail

What you see here is a copy of the famous "End of the Trail" statue. You have probably seen this image in many forms from small statues to bookends to belt buckles all across the United States. The original large scale statue was made of wire and plaster by James Earle Fraser (1876-1953). It was exhibited in the Pan-American Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. While Fraser is most well known for the "End of the Trail" statue, he also designed the Indian Head (Buffalo) Nickel and many other large scale sculptures around the United States, including a statue of President Lincoln and one of Benjamin Franklin. His original "End of the Trail" statue is currently housed in the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and it was restored after being exposed to the elements in a park in California. Fraser's original intent, according to history, was to capture what he was seeing in the American Western Frontier as a child growing up in Mitchell, South Dakota. There he had unique encounters with pioneers, hunters and fur trappers, and he befriended
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many of the Plains Natives. He often heard stories about the “doomed fate” of the Native people and sympathized with their suffering as westward expansion threatened to consume their lands.

Trees of Mystery and Ambrose Gruenke

Ambrose Gruenke (1907-1944) carved this redwood statue of the "End of the Trail" in 1938. Gruenke, originally from Minnesota, spent much of his life as a traveling artist, never staying in one place for very long. He stopped in Crescent City, California, just 15 miles north, in the 1940s, where he carved a totem pole, a gorilla, and a giant redwood chain. These carvings sat in Crescent City Park, but have since been moved to different locations. He also came to Trees of Mystery, then called Wonderland Park Trees of Mystery, which was owned and operated by Carl Bruno and Carl Lewan. Lewan commissioned Gruenke to carve the End of the Trail which symbolized the end of many trails. Gruenke also admired the well-known icon of the West. The piece was carved in just 30 days from one redwood log with the exception of the horse's head, which required more than the width of the tree. Gruenke used a jack knife, a saw, and an axe. He told his brother that by the time the carving was completed, all the chips he had made in the course of his work were gone as they had been given as souvenirs to people visiting the park. Gruenke kept a
End of the Trail Statue and Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, September 18, 2021
2. End of the Trail Statue and Marker
collection of everything written about his carvings in a redwood box carved to look like a book that he had signed by hammering nails to spell his name. This seems to be a regular signature for him as he signed this "End of Trail" with nails also, as you can see at the bottom of the horse's neck. We don't know much more about Ambrose Gruenke, his redwood book that held his tools and art clippings was lost to history.
For the Trees of Mystery and the Thompson family, who have owned and operated the park since 1946, the statue holds layers of meaning: On the one hand it sits near the end of the walking trail through the redwoods. This is also the end of the trail as the place they have made their home. And, most obviously, this is a copy of the original and iconic "End of the Trail" statue by James Earle Fraser.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, MusicNative Americans.
Location. 41° 35.053′ N, 124° 5.183′ W. Marker is near Klamath, California, in Del Norte County. Marker is on U.S. 101, 1.2 miles north of Redwood Drive, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 15500 US-101, Klamath CA 95548, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Captain Courageous (approx. 4.8 miles away); Fort Terwer (approx.
End of the Trail Statue image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, September 18, 2021
3. End of the Trail Statue
At the Trees of Mystery roadside attraction.
7.2 miles away); Battery Point Lighthouse (approx. 12.6 miles away); The Metcalf Grove (approx. 12.7 miles away); Remembering Billy Boone (approx. 12.8 miles away); Dedication to Henry Sause, Jr. (approx. 12.8 miles away); S.S. Emidio (approx. 12.8 miles away); Tsunami ! (approx. 12.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Klamath.
More about this marker. The Trees of Mystery Museum has the best private collection of Native American artifacts in the world. It is located next to the gift shop.
Also see . . .  Trees of Mystery. (Submitted on October 13, 2021.)
Trees of Mystery mascots image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, September 18, 2021
4. Trees of Mystery mascots
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 13, 2021. It was originally submitted on October 13, 2021, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. This page has been viewed 707 times since then and 206 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 13, 2021, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California.

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Jul. 12, 2024