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One Hundred Years in Yosemite The Story of a Great Park and Its Friends

One Hundred Years in Yosemite
The Story of a Great Park and Its Friends
Title: One Hundred Years in Yosemite The Story of a Great Park and Its Friends
Release Date: 2018-11-17
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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One Hundred Years in Yosemite: The Story of a Great Park and Its Friends

Frontispiece: Yosemite Valley

One Hundred Years in Yosemite

The Story of a Great Park and Its Friends


With a Foreword by Newton B. Drury

Looking at the valley

Berkeley and Los Angeles · 1947










Decorative border

The National Park Service is primarily a custodian of andtrustee for lands—lands with unique and special qualities,so distinctive as to make their care a concern of the entirenation; lands, therefore, held under a distinctive pattern andpolicy, administered according to the national park concept.

Yosemite National Park comprises such lands. It is, so tospeak, a type locality for the national park idea. While Yellowstone,established in 1872, was the first real national park,Yosemite Valley, in 1864, under an act signed by President Lincoln,was transferred to the State of California to be protectedaccording to park principles, later to be re-ceded to the FederalGovernment. Here in Yosemite many of the national parkpolicies and techniques of protection, administration, and interpretationhave evolved and are still evolving, within theframework of the basic act of 1916, with its injunction to “conservethe scenery and the natural and historic objects and thewildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the samein such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpairedfor the enjoyment of future generations.”

Dr. Russell’s One Hundred Years in Yosemite, appearingnow in its new version, gives not only a chronology of events,and the persons taking part in them, related to this place ofvery special beauty and meaning. It also portrays, in terms ofviiihuman experience, the growth of a distinct and unique conceptionof land management and chronicles the thoughts andeffort of those who contributed to it. It tells of the obstaclesovercome, and of the pressures, present even today, to breakdown the national park concept, and turn these lands to commercialand other ends that would deface their beauty andimpair their significance.

This book, therefore, is more than a history of Yosemite. Ittraces the evolution of an idea.

In scholarly fashion, sources of information are cited. Manyof the documents and other source materials upon which thebook is based are preserved in the Yosemite Museum, thus givingspecial interest to visitors to Yosemite.

Belief in the worth of the national park program cannot butbe strengthened by reading One Hundred Years in Yosemite.

Newton B. Drury,

Director, National Park Service

February 13, 1947



It is the purpose of One Hundred Years in Yosemite topreserve and disseminate the true story of the discoveryand preservation of America’s first public reservation to be setaside for its natural beauty and scientific interest.

When the original version of this book was written in 1930,I had recently completed the collation of manuscript diariesand correspondence, newspaper files, old journals, hotel registers,state and federal reports, photographs, and a variety ofother pertinent historical source materials in the library of theYosemite Museum. This was the material upon which the bookwas based. In the preface of the book I made a plea for the contributionof additional Yosemite memorabilia to be added tothe Yosemite archives. Perhaps some of the fine response fromdonors during the past sixteen years is traceable to that plea;more likely, the increased interest in the Yosemite Museumresults from the creditable work of the park’s staff membersand the message carried by the monthly publication, YosemiteNature Notes. The notable growth of the Yosemite Museumcollections and the improvement of its exhibits and its generalprogram of interpretive work are heartening to all who hada hand in the establishment of the work.

In the original version, and in bringing to the present workthe benefit of new material, I have attempted to organize thexpublished information which has been confirmed by the oraltestimony of many Yosemite pioneers and enriched with authenticdata from unpublished manuscripts prepared by other“old-timers” to whom I could not speak. In order that a convenientchronology of events might be available to the reader, anoutline is appended to the book. This includes the episodes relatedin the text and in addition mentions many obscure eventsnot treated in the narrative. It also provides ready referenceto the sources drawn upon in writing. This method of citingsources has made it unnecessary to encumber the pages of thetext with numerous footnotes. Most of the manuscripts referredto are the property of the Yosemite Museum. The whereaboutsof other manuscripts is indicated in the bibliography.

To the donors of the expanding collection of source materialsand to the Yosemite staff members, also, who have accomplishedso much in organizing, interpreting, and publishingupon these materials, I am indebted. Their interest and theirlabors have facilitated my present writing, and their conscientioushandling of file systems, accession records, stored collections,and publication programs will facilitate the work offuture investigators of Yosemite history and natural history.At the same time, their good museum practices should inspirefurther public confidence in the integrity of the Yosemite program,and the collections will continue to grow.

By Ralph Anderson, NPSThe Yosemite Museum


A host of friends and associates have contributed to theproduction of the book. Great thanks are due my wife for hergenerous help and continuous encouragement. Mrs. H. J. Taylorlent important assistance and advice. Among the Yosemitestaff members who gave valuable help, former Park NaturalistsC. A. Harwell and C. Frank Brockman and former museum-secretary,Mrs. William Godfrey, made especially importantcontributions; however, the extraordinary interest of everymember of the park naturalist staff has placed me in the debtof the entire organization. The American Association of Museums,in addition to coöperating with the National ParkService in founding the Yosemite Museum, has contributeddirectly to the production of this book by assisting me in thecollecting of rare publications and helping, generally, in assemblingYosemite data. The Yosemite Park and Curry Companyhas made available many publications and photographs. Mrs.Don Tresidder of that organization, particularly, has givenmaterial assistance in establishing dates and historical facts.The Sierra Club has permitted the use of my article, “MiningExcitements East of Yosemite,” which was first published inthe Sierra Club Bulletin. To David R. Brower, Editor of theSierra Club Bulletin and at the University of California Press,I acknowledge particular indebtedness, not only for editorialguidance in producing the book but, also, for his historian’ssense and his basic knowledge of the Yosemite terrain and itsstory. Some of his contributions to the content of the text areacknowledged elsewhere, but his friendly help has extended toevery part of the book. Francis P. Farquhar and Ansel F. Hall,during a quarter of a century of our friendships, have givenassistance and encouragement. Mr. Farquhar has read parts ofthe manuscript and made helpful suggestions. His library hasbeen drawn upon in the course of my work. The more recentphotographs reproduced upon the following pages are creditedto their makers, to each of whom I am deeply beholden. Forxiiuse of the very old pictures used herein, I am indebted to theYosemite Museum, and to Superintendent Frank Kittredge Iexpress thanks for this and many other helpful acts performedby him and his staff members in furthering my efforts.

In the sixteen years that have elapsed since One HundredYears in Yosemite first appeared, notable changes have takenplace in the geographical boundaries of the national park,physical developments within the reservation have, so far aspossible, kept pace with progressing modes of vacationing, andsome eight million visitors have journeyed to its wonders. Anumber of the historic caravansaries that served so conspicuouslyduring stagecoach days have been removed from thescene, and the one-time dusty, tortuous routes of access havebeen converted to safe, surfaced roads of beautiful alignment.A world-shaking conflict has been waged, and the superlativevalues of the park have emerged from that war unaffected bythe demands of “production” interests.

Many earnest men have applied themselves in guarding theprecious values of the great reservation. Some of these conservationistshave virtually died in the harness. A growingappreciation of the work of these men is evident, and there isnotable acclaim also of the far-sightedness of unnamed leaderswho in 1864 obtained the epoch-making legislation that gaveAmerica her first public reservation of national park caliber.

It has been gratifying to me to observe some practical usefulnessof my original compilation of Yosemite history, andthis new version of the work is offered with the hope that itmay continue to guide public attention to the significance ofthe action of pioneers who led the world along the paths ofxiiiscenic conservation. Upon the executives who now plan andadminister programs of protection and management in Yosemiterests a responsibility that gains in magnitude in proportionto the growing pressure exerted by the hordes of people whoseek the offerings of the park. The nation is yet in a pioneeringstage in defining Yosemite values and regulating their use. Inthe light of experience of the past, it should be possible to discernsome of the path that lies ahead.

The ability to discern even the more subtle influences affectingthe security of Yosemite and other great national parks hasbecome a “must” for National Park Service executives. Thissensitivity has not developed overnight, but now it approachesmaturity. Director Newton B. Drury has exercised a leadershipin this regard which marks his period of service as the apexof clear thinking on national park problems.

Carl P. Russell

United States National Park Service

January 30, 1947



I Discovery 1
II Mariposa Hills 9
III White Chief of the Foothills 15
IV Pioneers in the Valley 36
V Tourists in the Saddle 50
VI Stagecoach Days 61
VII Explorers 71
VIII Hotels and Their Keepers 92
IX East-side Mining Excitement 117
X The Interpreters 129
XI Guardians of the Scene 146
Chronology 176
Bibliography 195
Index 217


Frontispiece, by Ralph H. Anderson ii
The Yosemite Museum x
The First Drawing Made in Yosemite xviii
Mariposa in the ’Fifties 8
Joseph R. Walker 44
Maria Lebrado 44
Captain John Boling 44
Lafayette H. Bunnell 44
A Freight Outfit 44
Early Tourists in the Saddle 44
First Yosemite Photograph—“Upper Hotel” 60
The Big Tree Room 60
The Big Oak Flat Route 60
The First Automobile—July, 1900 60
Early Yosemite Buses 60
Old Tioga Road 60
New Tioga Road 60
John Conway, a Pioneer Trail Builder 76
On the First Trail to the Top of Vernal Fall 76
Mount Conness and the Observatory Camp 76
James T. Gardiner and Clarence King, Early Mappers 76
Professor Davidson (right) and the Conness Observatory 76
Present-Day Trail Work—Oiling the Eleven-Mile Trail 80
Gabriel Sovulewski in 1897 80
Mount Maclure and Its Glacier 80
Measuring the Mount Lyell Glacier 80
Ski Mountaineering Party near Mount Starr King 88
Climbing on the Three Brothers 88
Descending Lower Cathedral Spire 88
The Cosmopolitan, 1870-1932 92
The Lower Hotel, 1856-1869 92
Mill Built by John Muir in 1869 96
Glacier Point Mountain House, 1878 to date 96
Sentinel Hotel (left background), 1876 to 1938 96
The Ahwahnee Hotel, 1927 to date 96
Saddle Trip on a High Sierra Trail 96
Merced Lake High Sierra Camp, 1916 to date 96
Badger Pass Ski House 100
Ski Patrol at Work 100
Winter in the Yosemite High Sierra: Clark Range 100
Snow Gaugers Entering Tuolumne Meadows 100
Sketch map of Yosemite Region, illustrating discovery, first entry, east-side mining excitement, and some present-day culture 124
John Muir 148
Galen Clark 148
Colonel H. C. Benson 148
James M. Hutchings 148
Sierra Club Headquarters in Yosemite, 1898 148
William E. Colby 148
W. B. Lewis and
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