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“Exploration of the Sierra Nevada” (1925)
by Francis P. Farquhar


Frank Dusy

The discovery of Tehipite Valley in the canyon of the Middle Fork of Kings River is credited to Frank Dusy. In 1869, while hunting on Crown Creek, he wounded a bear and, in the traditional manner, followed it to a new discovery. The bear made off down Crown Creek and Dusy pursued it to the brink of a cliff over which the bear tumbled. Dusy took off his shoes and walked barefoot along a ledge until he could reach a big oak by which he climbed down. Below he found the bear, by this time deceased. After continuing to the bottom of the canyon, Dusy climbed out through a wooded region not far from where the trail was subsequently built.

Frank Dusy was a very unusual man and deserves a prominent place in the annals of the Sierra. He was about the only stockman of his day who took an interest in the mountains for reasons other than to find green feed. Bonn in Canada in 1836, he lived for a while in Maine and Boston, and came to California in 1858. He tried mining in Tuolumne County for a while and moved to Fresno County in 1864. After various occupations, including that of portrait photographer, he settled down to farming and stock-raising near Fowler. He established a summer home in the mountains between the San Joaquin and Kings rivers, This he called “Dinkey” from the name of his little dog.

Dusy was the last to explore the upper basin of the Middle Fork of Kings River. In 1877 he ascended as far as the Palisades, and in 1879 he brought a bulky studio camera into Tehipite and took the first photograph ever made of Tehipite Dome. On this occasion he was accompanied by Lil A. Winchell who still recalls the excitement of developing the wet plates in can improvised dark-room beside a small creek. That Dusy, a man whose efforts were primarily engaged in raising sheep and cattle, should take such extraordinary trouble is an interesting comment on the enthusiasm aroused by Sierra scenery in all manner of people.

An interesting, though confused, account of Dusy is given in a remarkable paper-covered pamphlet entitled “A Guide to the Grand and Sublime Scenery of the Sierra Nevada in the Region about Mount Whitney,” Published in 1883 by W. W. Elliott & Company, San Francisco. Part of the contents appeared in Elliott’s History of Fresno County the year before; but there are same notable additions, especially the lithographic plates of Tehipite Dome and Silver Spray Falls and some drawings by Gustav Eisen made on a trip into the Sierra in 1875. The view of Tehipite is from Dusy’s first photograph. Aside from these two publications most of the information about Dusy comes from correspondence with Lil A. Winchell, now living in Clovis.


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