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A Journal of Ramblings Through the High Sierras of California

By Joseph LeConte


Joseph LeConte

Joseph LeConte about 1875

Summary (from American Memory, Library of Congress)

Joseph LeConte (1823-1901) of Georgia earned a medical degree at Columbia University but devoted most of his life to the study of the physical sciences. During the Civil War, he served in the Confederate “science department” and after the war moved to California, where he became Professor of Geology and Natural History at the new University of California.

Ramblings throughout the High Sierra (1890) appeared in the Sierra Club Bulletin as LeConte’s edited version of a journal he kept in the summer of 1870, when several members of the first class of the University of California invited him to join them on a camping trip to the Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra. He describes their five week journey on horseback.



A

JOURNAL OF RAMBLINGS

THROUGH THE

HIGH SIERRAS OF CALIFORNIA

BY THE

“University Excursion Party.”

Joseph LeConte

1870


Preface

Joseph LeConte
[click to enlarge]
Great Yosemite Fall
[with the ten members of the party in the foreground: Phelps, Bolton, Perkins, Prof. LeConte, Soulé, Linderman, Comb, Stone, Hawkins, Pomroy.]
About the first week before the end of the First Session of the University of California, several young men, students of the University, invited me to join them in a Camping party for the Yosemite and the High Sierra.

The party was to go in regular pioneer style, cooking their own provisions, and sleeping under the open sky whenever a convenient place was found; each man was to bestride his own horse, carry his own bedding behind his saddle, and his clothing, with the exception of one change of underwear, on his back.

This was, it is true, a little rougher and harder than anything I had ever undertaken; but still I was fond of adventure, and longed to enjoy the glories of Yosemite and the beauties of the Sierra, and, more than all, to study mountain structure and mountain sculpture, as exhibited there on a magnificent scale. I therefore at once accepted the offer.

The party was forthwith organized, ten in number. Mr. Hawkins, who understood something of mountain life, was commissioned to buy the necessary supplies, and the general outfit, such as camp utensils, pack-horse and pack-saddle, and have all in readiness that we might start the very first day after commencement.

To while away my idle moments in camp, and to preserve some souvenir of the party, of the incidents, and of the scenery, I jotted down, from time to time, these wayside notes. J. L’C.

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Bibliographic Information

LeConte, Joseph, 1823-1901. A Journal of Ramblings Through the High Sierras of California by the “University Excursion Party.” San Francisco: Francis & Valentine, 1875. 103 pp; 9 photographic prints. Bound in blue cloth, 8.5" x 5.25." Reprinted in Sierra Club Bulletin, Volume II, No. 1 (Jan., 1900), 107 pp., 12 illustrations by J. N. LeConte. Bibliographies: Cowan (I) p. 137, Cowan (II) p. 387, Currey & Kruska 230, Farquhar 14a, Howes L-175, Kurutz & Bothamley 27, Neate L28. Reprinted in 1930, 1950, 1960 by the Sierra Club, and in 1994 by the Yosemite Association. Only the 1960 reprint reproduces the original tipped-in photographs, which are also reproduced here.

All photographs in the book are by James J. Reilly, although LeConte did not credit Reilly in the book (a common practice at the time).

Source: Translated from SGML by Dan Anderson, 1996, from the Library of Congress American Memory Collection, “The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920.” These files may be used for any non-commercial purpose, provided this notice is left intact.
    —Dan Anderson, www.yosemite.ca.us

Further information about Joseph LeConte:

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Online Library: Title Author California Geology History Indians Muir Mountaineering Nature Management