About 70 years ago, a Santa Fe railroad baron got an idea to create a 6,000-acre worker settlement in the gentle hills of north San Diego County, just far enough from the ocean to avoid morning fog and chill. His second idea was to plant thousands of fast-growing eucalyptus trees for later use as railroad ties, but it was to be the automobile and not the train that defined California. The railroad languished, but the eucalyptus--as hard and brittle as a tycoon's heart--thrived, and soon there was enough to feed half the koalas in Australia. Those towering trees came to shelter...

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