Signing up--again: Another big donation from the McCrary family

Bud McCrary, Janet McCrary Webb, and Lud McCrary
Chancellor Blumenthal, Janet McCrary Webb, her husband Steve Webb, and her father Lud McCrary at the new entrance sign (photos by Jason Doiy)
The original campus sign, donated by the McCrary family in 1965

For the second time, the McCrary family of Davenport has donated a massive redwood timber for UCSC's iconic sign. The original sign was replaced this past summer with a nearly identical twin. Brothers Homer T. "Bud" McCrary and Frank "Lud" McCrary Jr. donated the first sign in 1965 at the behest of founding chancellor Dean McHenry. But over the years, weather, termites, and dry rot took their toll.

Campus officials approached them a couple of years ago wondering if they could find another piece of redwood--a big piece. Lud McCrary said he remembered a fallen snag that had lain on family property off Swanton Road, about five miles north of Davenport, for 25 years.

The old redwood had stood, although dead and scarred, for more than 100 years. Fire had hollowed its once 28-foot girth into a semicircle of charred wood. Then it fell, undermined by a surging Scott Creek after torrential rains inundated Santa Cruz County in January 1982.

The McCrarys hauled the fallen log back to their sawmill and managed to mill a solid timber nearly identical to the original, give or take half an inch. It's nearly 24 feet long, 44 inches high, and 19 inches thick, with clean, clear grain.

Related story:
Business partners bridge campus and community
"I am delighted we were able to maintain the natural character and simplicity of the original sign," Chancellor George Blumenthal said. "The redwood is a symbol of how this university campus blends into the land on which it's built."

The McCrary family first settled in the Swanton area in 1869, six generations ago, when Bud and Lud's great-grandmother moved with her husband and four-year-old son. Their father, Frank, arrived from Alaska in 1920. After returning from World War II, the two brothers founded Big Creek Timber Co. in 1946 with their father and uncle.

Today, the next generation is in place with Lud's daughter, Janet Webb, as chief forester. Now called Big Creek Lumber, the company is widely known as a careful steward of the land and has been hailed as an environmentally conscious logger by such groups as the Nature Conservancy and Natural Resources Defense Council.

The old sign, rotted in many places, was trucked back to Big Creek. Lud McCrary said he hopes to find enough solid wood to mill into something useful, perhaps shakes for historic buildings in the area. "We don't want to waste it," he said.