Yesterday, we went for a walk in Martin Wunderlich Park. According to San Mateo County, "Martin Wunderlich….graciously tendered it for public recreation
by deeding 942 acres to San Mateo County for use as park and open space." There are not many people who own 942 acres and even less who give it away – thank you, Mr. Wunderlich.
According to a story my dad used to tell, and everything I can confirm on a short trip to Googleland, Martin Wunderlich was a very rich man and he got rich because he was very smart and very, very lucky. In the late 1930's, Wunderlich was the owner of a company doing a small construction job on the Panama Canal. Then WWII started and the job got much bigger and turned into a cost-plus job. By 1943, Wunderlich had made a $4,870,000 profit – in 1943 $s (probably like $50mil now) from the work.
After the war, the US Army – which ran the what we call the Air Force today – had thousands of planes with nothing to use them for. So, they put them up for sale with the proviso that the buyer couldn't actually fly them. Wunderlich started buying plans and – my dad's story went – drained the tanks and sold the aviation gas for more than he paid for the planes. By 1947, he had the second largest Air Force in the world. Bigger than the USAF and second to the Soviets. Where the planes were stored in Arizona, was the largest concentration of airplanes the world has ever seen.
One of the things that Wunderlich was able to buy with all that money was this nice piece of land that is now a park. The park is in Woodside and runs from the bottom of the Santa Cruz Mountains – or the top of the alluvial plain between the mountains and the bay – and runs up to the top of the ridge. At one time, it was a redwood forest thousands of years old, but was logged out, probably more than once, starting in 1850.
A walk in the park starts by walking along a wall made by Chinese stone masons in 1872. Now the wall is covered in moss and ferns which are very happy this time of year.
Then it is up the towards the ridge.
And past Acacias which are just starting to bloom – so it must be February.
And up through second or third growth redwoods. Pale imitations of the giants that used to live here.
Still a nice place to walk.