A guy who has his own page on Wikipedia is somebody. Archie "Red" Aldis Emmerson is somebody.
Listed by Forbes as one of the world’s richest people, Red Emmerson could live anywhere, though he chooses to live in Redding. “We have our business here, of course,” he explained. “But, it's a good place to live anyway.” What makes it so, he said, is the region’s natural and scenic wonders. “You can sit here and watch the river go right by mountains with snow-capped peaks. There's just a great variety of things to do. It's a good climate, not that cold in winter. The Sierras are beautiful and there's just so much timber up here.”
Emmerson’s Western woodsman’s accent resonates as he speaks of his passion for forests. After a youth spent near timber, cattle and agriculture, he joined his father in Northern California working on sawmills. His first job was as a greenchain puller, piling lumber as it exited the sawmill. By the time he was 20, Emmerson and his father had leased a sawmill; two years later, the father and son team had built their own, and Red Emmerson was managing the entire business.
Today, Emmerson – at 82 years old – is the largest private landowner in California and the third largest in the United States. His company, Sierra Pacific Industries, is the largest timber firm in California, with holdings stretching from near the Oregon border on the Pacific Coast to the Lake Tahoe area of central California. On 1,332,000 acres of land owned by the Emmerson family and Sierra Pacific, an estimated 1.3 billion board feet of lumber is produced annually from Ponderosa Pine, Sugar Pine, White Fir, Douglas Fir and Cedar.
Emmerson introduced innovations in mill production and improved forest management and timber harvesting in ways that benefitted the health of the forest and contributed to his company’s fortunes.
Success did not make Emmerson forget why he chose to live here, however. “Redding is a big enough town, yet you can be in a pretty remote area in under an hour by heading to Trinity Lake, up to the Sierras, or way out beyond Mt. Shasta,” he said. “The Trinity Alps are a favorite of mine. They’re beautiful. Then there are the Marble Mountains, the valley, the river and its wetlands. You have a choice of any number of things to do. Where else can you have all of this?”
When he gets away from work, Emmerson doesn’t go far. He enjoys fishing on any of the area’s legendary waters, hunting for deer, elk and bear, and duck hunting near Weed. He never grows tired of venturing into the woods, saying he’s happiest in the forest.
Emmerson shares that happiness with visitors to the Shasta Cascade, making Sierra Pacific lands, for the most part, open to public recreation. He only cautions when venturing onto Sierra Pacific property to not drive on wet roads, as that tears them up, not start fires and leave no trace. While you’re out there, look for Emmerson. He’s the fellow who’s helped keep our forests healthy and productive.