Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National and State Parks

Quiet redwood grove remains popular 40 years later

August 27, 2009, 7:54 am

It's probably the only time Humboldt County had two U.S. presidents visiting at the same time. And that did not include Ronald Reagan, who was then California's governor.

The day was Aug. 27, 1969, and political leaders gathered to dedicate Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Redwood National Park. It was Lady Bird's second visit to the area in less than a year -- she dedicated Redwood National Park on Nov. 25, 1968.

This time around, the former first lady brought a whole parcel of dignitaries, from President Richard Nixon to First Lady Pat Nixon and Rev. Billy Graham.

Humboldt County residents took notice -- news accounts of the time estimated that more than 10,000 people gathered at the Arcata-Eureka Airport to watch Air Force One land just before 2 p.m.

Some were said to have spent the night in campers parked near the airport to ensure they grabbed a good spot for viewing the arrival of so many dignitaries.

The Nixons' daughter and son-in-law, David and Julie Eisenhower, attended as did the Johnsons' daughters, Luci Johnson Nugent and Lynda Bird Robb.

It just happened to be LBJ's 61st birthday and the airport crowds serenaded the former president.