Home A - Z FAQ Art Prints Online Library Discussion Forum Muir Weather Maps About Search
Online Library: Title Author California Geology History Indians Muir Mountaineering Nature Management

ContentsPrevious: Letter 8

A Vacation among the Sierras (1962),
by Thomas Starr King


Notes

1 Charles W, Wendte, Thomas Starr King, Patriot and Preacher (Boston, 1921), 69.

2 Thomas Starr King, Christianity and Humanity: A Series of Sermons, edited by Edwin P. Whipple (Boston, 1877), xlii; Arnold Crompton, Apostle of Liberty: Starr King in California (Boston, 1950), 25-26.

3 Thomas Starr King to Randolph Ryer, San Francisco, May 20, 1860, MS, in Thomas Starr King Papers, Bancroft Library.

4 Franklin Walker, San Francisco’s Literary Frontier (New York, 1939), 104.

5 Oscar T. Shuck (ed.), Representative and Leading Men of the Pacific (San Francisco, 1870), 183; King to Ryer, San Francisco, August 5, 1860, MS, in King Papers.

6 King to Ryer, San Francisco, May 20, 1860, MS, in ibid.; King to Ryer, San Francisco, September io, 1860, MS, in ibid.

7 King to Ryer, San Francisco, May 20, 1860, MS, in ibid.

8 Wendte, Thomas Starr King, 88.

9 Shuck, Representative and Leading Men, 210. It is interesting to find that in this address King advocated the treatment of alcoholism as a disease. The state should provide institutions for the inebriate, he stated, as it does asylums for the insane.

10 Richard Frothingham, A Tribute to Thomas Starr King (Boston, 1865), 98.

11 King, Christianity and Humanity, xlvi.

12 Elbert Hubbard, Little Journeys to the Homes of Eminent Orators (New York, 1916), 326.

13 King to Ryer, Concord, N. H., July 22, 1850, MS, in King Papers.

14 King to Ryer, San Francisco, June 4, 1860, MS, in ibid.

15 Hubbard, Little Journeys, 336.

16 Frothingham, A Tribute to Thomas Starr King, 142.

17 Ernest Poole, The Great White Hills of New Hampshire (New York, 1946), 333.

18 King to Ryer, San Francisco, May 20,1860, MS, in King Papers.

19 Ibid.; Wendte, Thomas Starr King, 89.

20 Golden Era (San Francisco), July 8, 15, 1860; A. L. Bancroft & Co., Bancroft‘s Tourist Guide: Yosemite (San Francisco, 1871), 127. An excerpt from the Dashaway talk is in Shuck, Representative and Leading Men, 207-211.

21 King to Ryer, San Francisco, July 11, 1860, MS, in King Papers.

22 Golden Era, July 15, 1860; Society of California Pioneers, Memorial Record, vol. 14, pp. 139-141, MS; and other biographical files in the Society of California Pioneers.

23 Carl P. Russell, One Hundred Years in Yosemite (Berkeley, 1947), 179-181.

24 King to Ryer, Coulterville, July 12, 1860, MS, in King Papers.

25 King to Ryer, “Mariposas County” July 13, 1860, MS, in ibid.; Wendte, Thomas Starr King, 90.

26 Wendte, Thomas Starr King, 114-115.

27 Postscript to King to Ryer, “Mariposas County,” July 13, 1860, MS, in King Papers.

28 Frothingham, A Tribute to Thomas Starr King, 186.

29 King to Ryer, San Francisco, July 22, 1860, MS, in King Papers.

30 Evening Bulletin (San Francisco), July 30, 1860; excerpts from this sermon are printed in Oscar T. Shuck (comp.), California Scrap-Book (San Francisco, 1869), 446-457.

31 King, Christianity and Humanity, 293.

32 Ibid., 322-323.

33 Henry W, Bellows, In Memory of Thomas Starr King (San Francisco, 1864), 22.

34 King to Ryer, San Francisco, June 30, 1862, MS, in King Papers.

35 Shuck, Representative and Leading Men, 189.

36 This paragraph is based on the following sources: Hans Huth, Yosemite: The Story of An Idea (reprint from the Sierra Club Bulletin, March, 1948; San Francisco, n. d.), 65; O. W. Holmes to King, Boston, April 13, 1862, MS, in Society of California Pioneers; J. G. Whittier to King, Amesbury, “5th, 6th mo.” 1861, MS, in ibid.; Bellows, In Memory of Thomas Starr King, 22.

37 James Mason Hutchings, In the Heart of the Sierras (Oakland, Calif., 1886), 60, 80, 92. The Hutchings party may not have been the first tourist party to enter the valley. For mention of a reported 1854 company which is said to have included five women, see Irene D. Paden and Margaret E. Schlichtmann, The Big Oak Flat Road (San Francisco, 1955), 271.

38 J. M. Hutchings, Notes to Accompany an Illustrated Lecture to “Gentlemen of the Senate and Assembly,” MS, in the Yosemite Museum.

39 Daily Alta California (San Francisco), August 6, 1856; for details of Eastern mentions of Yosemite, see Huth, Yosemite: The Story of An Idea, 64, and as modified by Hans Huth, Nature and the American: Three Centuries of Changing Attitudes (Berkeley, 1957), 144.

40 Evening Bulletin (San Francisco), June 15, 18, 24, 27; July 8, 9, 1857; Lafayette Houghton Bunnell, Discovery of the Yosemite (4th ed., Los Angeles, 1910, 314.

41 Daily Alta California (San Francisco), July 13, 22, 24, 1858. There may have been more parts to this series, but only three have thus far been seen by the present editor.

42 John S. Hittell, Yosemite: Its Wonders and Its Beauties (San Francisco, 1868), 41.

43 Shuck, Representative and Leading Men, 167; Bellows, In Memory of Thomas Starr King, 22.

44 For examples see Hutchings, In the Heart of the Sierras, Hittell, Yosemite, passim.

45 Huth, Nature and the American, 145. It has been said that King was a leader in the campaign to have Yosemite and the Mariposa Grove set aside as a park, an effort which resulted in the Yosemite Grant of 1864 to the State of California. There are indications that such could well have been the case; but, in the opinion of the present editor, at any rate, further research is needed to define the extent of King’s contribution to this significant step in the conservation movement. See Huth, Yosemite: The Story of An Idea, 65; Hal Curtis, Starr King, Patriot and Mason (San Francisco, 1951), 11.

46 Richard Frothingham in Thomas Starr King, Patriotism, and Other Papers (Boston, 1864), 20.

47 King to Ryer, Boston, March 2, 1854, MS, in King Papers.

48 Wendte, Thomas Starr King, 57.

49 ibid., 58.

50 Frothingham, A Tribute to Thomas Starr King, 238.

51 King, Journal of Voyage from New York to San Francisco, part II, p. 29, MS, in King Papers.

52 Walker, San Francisco’s Literary Frontier, 103.

53 King to Ryer, San Francisco, October 29, 1860, MS, in King Papers.

54 King, journal, part I, pp. 18-19, MS, in ibid.; King to Ryer, San Francisco, July 11, 1860, MS, in ibid.

55 King to Ryer, San Francisco, September io, 1862, MS, in ibid.

56 Oscar T. Shuck, California Anthology: or Striking Thoughts on Many Themes Carefully Selected from California Writers and Speakers (San Francisco, 1880), 86.

57 Hubbard, Little Journeys, 316.

58 Shuck, California Anthology, 335.

59 King, Patriotism, 181.

60 Huth, Nature and the American, 101.

61 Dust jacket of Crompton, Apostle of Liberty.

62 For an analysis of the literature on this subject, see Benjamin Franklin Gilbert, “California and the Civil War: A Bibliographical Essay,” in California Historical Society Quarterly, XL (December, 1961), 289-307. See also University of Southern California, Abstracts of Dissertations . . . 1951, pp. 9-11.

63 Wendte, Thomas Starr King, 46.

64 Frothingham, A Tribute to Thomas Starr King, 71.

65 Thomas Starr King, The White Hills; Their Legends, Landscape, and Poetry (Boston, 1870), vii.

66 Huth, Nature and the American, 120.

67 Frothingham, A Tribute to Thomas Starr King, 147.

68 Huth, Nature and the American, 102.

69 King, Christianity and Humanity, xxxiv.

70 King, The White Hills, 114.

71 A recent survey is to be found in parts of Dr. Hans Huth’s perceptive and stimulating book, Nature and the American.

72 The letters originally appeared in the issues of the Boston Evening Transcript for December 1, 15, and 31, 1860; January 12, 19, 26, and February 2 and 9, 1861.

73 Horace Greeley’s visit to Yosemite during 1859 and the publication of his description of the journey in the New York Tribune have been discussed in the introduction. Who the painter of the picture seen in Boston by King could have been is an engaging subject of speculation. Thomas A. Ayres made the first known sketches of Yosemite scenes in 1855 and 1856; and the first lithograph based on them, a view of Yosemite Falls, was published in October, 1855. Although there are a few references to Ayres’ “paintings” of Yosemite, it is not known that he made any paintings of Sierra scenes for Eastern buyers. William S. Jewett, a pioneer California artist, is reported to have made sketches in the valley during 1859, and from them he painted several Yosemite pictures. One of these paintings, a view of Yosemite Falls inscribed “1859” on the back, was found in the East years later, but there is no record of when it left California. Elliot Evans, “Yosemite Paintings of William S. Jewett” (typescript), 2-3.

74 By 1859 the convention had already been established that the best time to visit Yosemite was between May 15 and June 10. But the “unprecedented” rains during May, 1860, and the prospect of more rain during June, caused the Mariposa Star to predict on June 5 that, for the 1860, season, “any time, from the present to the last of July will do.” It was reported that a few parties had already been to Yosemite and had returned “without danger or serious difficulty:”

75 It started to rain, a few drops, at 5 o’clock on the evening of July 10, 1860, in San Francisco. By 8 o’clock the downpour started in earnest, and it continued “with considerable violence and without intermission” until at least after midnight. San Francisco Herald, July 11, 1860. Although they generally disagreed on most subjects, the San Francisco papers were united in finding the unseasonable precipitation “quite unusual.”

76 The Crimea House was a stage station and inn for freighters on the Mound Springs Road between Keystone and Chinese Camp in Tuolumne County. Although the original station building has long since disappeared, the barn and stone corral may still be seen near the intersection of the Mound Springs Road with the La Grange highway.

77 During 1860 the road between Knights Ferry and Coulterville was a favorite scene of operations for highwaymen. Probably the driver of the single wagon mentioned by King was the Stanislaus County teamster, John Wilson, who was robbed of all he had—about $11—on the road between Mound Springs and the Crimea House on the morning of July 12. Toward evening on the same day a lone horseman, Henry T. Allen, was forced to deliver about $65 to highwaymen near Knights Ferry. San Francisco Herald, July 16 and 18, 1860; Evening Bulletin (San Francisco), July 16, 1860.

78 Originally known as Banderita, Coulterville derived its name from an enterprising Pennsylvanian, George Washington Coulter, who established a store there in 1849. The town had been destroyed by fire during 1859, but by May, 1860, it was reported to be “handsomely rebuilt” with brick. San Francisco Herald, May 12, 1860. The town’s principal hostelry, the Coulter Hotel, or Coulter’s Hotel, was operated by the same G. W. Coulter after whom the town was named. In August, 1860, it was described as a wooden structure, 40 by 60 feet, lathed and plastered, and boasting a cuisine “unusually excellent for the interior.” Daily Alta California (San Francisco), August 17, 1860.

79 “Substance and Show” was one of King’s first and best-known lectures. Written in 1851, it had been delivered many times in the East, where it is said to have “almost equalled” Wendell Phillips’s “The Lost Arts” in popularity. King delivered it in San Francisco shortly after his arrival from Boston, and excerpts from it had been widely circulated on the West Coast. He was also a powerful speaker against the evils of liquor. Two evenings earlier he had told the Dashaway Association of San Francisco that the battering of a human face in a boxing match was “not half so disfiguring as the traces of one night’s orgie.

80 The first member of the party as listed by King probably was Squire P. Dewey; the fourth, the youth, may have been Dewey’s son, Eugene E. Dewey; the fifth, the secretary of “slight proportions” was, of course, King himself. Alpheus Bull, of San Francisco, probably was with the group, but he does not seem to fit King’s descriptions of either the second or third members.

81 John Charles Frémont purchased Rancho Las Mariposas from Juan B. Alvarado in 1847 through the agency of Thomas O. Larkin. He began mining in the Mariposa region during the spring of 1849 and soon determined that the lasting mineral wealth was not in the placer gold but in the rich quartz veins which traversed the district. A steam-driven stamp mill was operating on the property by September, 1850. The boundaries of the huge rancho—it contained about 44,387 acres—were not defined, and the grant had not been confirmed by the United States Government. Thus Frémont was not able to prevent others from mining on the land, and large-scale development was hampered. After years of costly litigation, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the grant in 1856. Frémont had the rancho surveyed to stretch from about the Merced River at Bagby southward and eastward to include the town of Mariposa. Then followed another period of contest—physical as well as legal—to assert his rights to the mines within the grant boundaries. Only after this matter was substantially settled in his favor could he proceed with the full development of his estate.

Improvements—largely financed by borrowed money—were pushed rapidly in the latter part of 1858. The great wooden dam—built of timbers, tree trunks, brush, gravel, and rocks—mentioned in the next paragraph of King’s letter, was begun in December, 1858, and completed during March of the next year. By August, 1859, a mill of 12 stamps was in operation on the Merced River, and more stamps were soon added. The mill by 1860 was “reputed” to be the largest in the state.

82 The site of Benton Mills, named by Frémont for his father-in-law, Senator Thomas Hart Benton, is in the present town of Bagby. The foundations of the mills are still visible on the south bank of the Merced River directly below the Highway 49 bridge. The mountain mentioned by King in the next sentence is now called Bullion Mountain. It also was named for Thomas Hart Benton, whose nickname in politics was “Old Bullion;” shortly. after the statesman’s death in April, 1858.

83 King had already visited the Mother Lode district of California, and one of his earlier letters to the Transcript had been devoted to a detailed description of the gold mines and the methods of mining. “Nevada” was the name King habitually used for Nevada City. Wendte, Thomas Starr King, 191-192.

84 Hell Hollow, a steep-walled gorge tributary to the Merced River, lies immediately to the west of the present Highway 49 as it climbs southward from Bagby up the wall of the Merced canyon in the direction of Bear Valley. The grading of Frémont’s railroad had caused some grumbling among merchants and miners in the Mariposa area since it in places obliterated the old trail which had long been in public use. As King mentions, the ore cars descended the railroad by gravity, but they were drawn up again by mules. This railroad was not, as is sometimes stated, the first in California. For a detailed description of the road and the entire Frémont Estate during 1860, see the Daily Alta California (San Francisco), August 2-17, 1860.

85 As is evident from the tone of this letter, King was an ardent partisan of Frémont and of the Pathfinder’s wife, Jessie Benton Frémont. Upon the appearance of this letter in the Transcript Mrs. Frémont wrote King a “gem of a note” thanking him for his sympathetic presentation of the estate’s turbulent history. “I was brought low as a little child by your vivid summing up;” she said, adding, “My great reward has come to me every time Mr. Frémont has told me that but for me, he could not endure through it.” Jessie Benton Frémont to T. S. King, [San Francisco?], [January?] 16th, [1861.], MS, in Society of California Pioneers; King to Ryer, San Francisco, January 20, 1861, MS, in King Papers. Unhappily for the Frémonts, the financial troubles of the Mariposa Estate were not ended by the completion of the railroad, and the Pathfinder soon lost control of the property.

86 Early in the summer of 1848 King’s health had failed due to “nervous prostration.” Through the generosity of a friend he was able to make a voyage to Fayal, an island of the Azores. The recovery of his strength on this trip enabled him to accept a call from the Hollis Street Church of Boston.

87 Clark’s Ranch, later known as Clark’s Station, was in the beautiful forest opening now called Wawona. Its founder, Galen Clark, had visited the region during 1855. The next year, his health broken by his experiences as a miner and surveyor, he sought relief in the mountain air at Wawona, and in 1857 he established a ranch there. A tourist who passed through Wawona on May 25, 1857, commented: “Mr. Clark intends to erect a house to accommodate visitors.” Evening Bulletin (San Francisco), June 27, 1857. Clark’s place quickly became the main way station on the Mariposa trail to Yosemite. In 1866 he was appointed guardian of the Yosemite Grant, and he remained closely identified with the valley and with the Mariposa Grove, of which he was said to have been the effective discoverer, until his death in 1910 at the age of 96.

88 The fictional piece, “My Double; and how He undid Me” by Edward Everett Hale, appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, IV (September, 1859), 356-366.

89 Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), the famous Congregationalist minister who for 43 years was pastor of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, was one of the most noted orators in the United States. He, King, Wendell Phillips, and Dr. E. H. Chapin were the acknowledged “luminaries of the lecture platform” during the great lyceum era before the Civil War. Although rivals on the lecture circuit, Beecher and King were warm personal friends who “not infrequently” joined with other jovial companions for outings in the White Hills. Beecher had not yet become involved in the scandal which shadowed his later life.

90 The grove King describes at this point is the present North Grove of the Calaveras Big Trees. This grove, extending over about 50 acres, contains 103 “larger trees;” more than 80 of which are 15 or more feet in diameter. By comparison, the Mariposa Grove consists of “no less than 200 trees 10 feet or more in diameter” Although seen at least as early as 1850, the Calaveras Big Trees were not effectively discovered until 1852. The North Grove, then generally known as the Mammoth Tree Grove, quickly became a tourist attraction, and a hotel was soon erected. There were, of course, a number of other large Sequoia gigantea groves in California, including the 1,000-tree South Grove of the Calaveras Big Trees and the stands now preserved in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks; but in 1860 the North Calaveras Grove and the Mariposa Grove were the only large groves generally known and reasonably accessible. A tree in the North Grove was later named for Starr King.

91 The tree called “The Mother of the Forest” was stripped of its lower bark during the summer of 1854 to provide material for a commercial exhibit. According to the Whitney Survey, this tree was 315 feet high, and its circumference at the base, after the bark had been removed, was 84 feet. The reassembled bark was displayed in New York in 1855. Two years later the exhibit was placed in the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, England, and there it remained until the building burned in 1866. Francis P. Farquhar, Yosemite: the Big Trees, and the High Sierra: A Selective Bibliography (Berkeley, 1948), li-13.

92 The stump of this tree, the first Sequoia gigantea known to have been deliberately destroyed by man, may still be seen in the North Calaveras Grove. The tree was felled during 1853 at the direction of W. H. Hanford. The bark was stripped off to a height of about 60 feet and shipped to New York for exhibit. Even at the time there was a considerable feeling on the part of the public that Hanford had committed a “sacrilegious act,” and he received little sympathy when the venture proved to be a financial disaster.

93 King’s version of the Warren list differs in several particulars from that given in James M. Hutchings, Scenes of Wonder and Curiosity in California (London, 1865), 146.

94 Probably this group of sequoias was the small Tuolumne Grove, located about a mile north of Crane Flat. It had been brought to public attention by a party from Garrote during May, 1858, and by i 860 it was a regular “sight” for tourists traveling the Coulterville-Yosemite trail. The Merced Grove, about 2 miles southwest of Crane Flat and not far off the trail, apparently was not generally known in 1860; it was discovered, or “rediscovered;” about 1871 or 1872.

95 During 1860 considerable attention was given in the press to “Munchausen stories” concerning a “Big Petrified Tree” which had been found near High Rock Canyon in northwestern Nevada. The most frequently circulated report said the tree was “666 feet long and 40 feet in diameter” During July, 1860, several members of Colonel F. W. Lander’s wagon road expedition visited the site of the discovery and found the so-called tree to be an “unmistakable petrifaction;” with the several parts —bark, heart, and even resin—all perfect in form and color. Close examination, however, convinced these engineers that the apparent tree was actually made up of the parts of at least 3 trees, broken in pieces and lying nearly in a line. “Still;” they concluded, “it was a great curiosity” even with the “ridiculous exaggeration” indulged in by the discoverers. One member of the group, however, pronounced the tree an “unmitigated humbug;” and the only wonder to his mind was how so many large tree sections “ever came there, where a two-inch sage brush serves as a back log to a campfire” Daily Alta California (San Francisco[)], September 1 and 5, 1860. It is interesting to note that during October, 1860, King performed the marriage ceremony uniting Lander with “Miss Davenport the actress” Evidently the occasion did not provide King with the opportunity to discuss the Honey Lake petrifaction with the explorer.

96 Hildebrand, the eleventh century churchman who became Pope Gregory the Seventh, was one of King’s favorite characters in history and was the subject of one of his lectures.

97 In 1860 the usual route of tourist travel from Wawona to Yosemite Valley was the horse trail completed by Milton and Houston Mann in 1856. After crossing the South Fork of the Merced River near Clark’s, the trail climbed steeply northward up the face of a ridge to a “plateau” at an elevation of about 5,500 feet. Following this contour for several miles it reached Alder Creek which it then ascended through Empire Meadows to its source and crossed to the Bridalveil Creek drainage. Passing through the present Peregoy Meadow, it turned northwestward and approached the south rim of Yosemite Valley along the Meadow Brook drainage, a short distance east of Old Inspiration Point. Turning westward past this latter promontory, the trail then descended sharply to the floor of the valley near Bridalveil Meadows. The present Alder Creek and Pohono Trails follow parts of this old route.

98 King was not the only early traveler to be reminded of a prison by the high, gray cliffs of Yosemite. The Rev. John C. Holbrook visited the valley in 1859 and was much impressed by the precipitous rock walls. “The thought occurred to me that it would be an admirable place for a penal colony or State prison;” he wrote in all seriousness to a San Francisco paper. The Pacific, July 7, 1859.

99 The view was of Bridalveil Fall as seen from the present Old Inspiration Point.

100 The Staubbach Fall, in Switzerland, is now generally stated to have a total height of 980 feet, substantially more than Bridalveil’s 620 feet. In the past, however, the height of Staubbach has often been given as 600 feet. It is no longer described as the highest in Europe, since at least two falls in Norway and one in France are considered to be higher.

101 The height of El Capitan is now generally given as 3,604 feet above the valley floor. The sheer drop, however, is only about 2,898 feet.

102 The name “The Sisters” is no longer applied to any landscape feature in Yosemite Valley. From King’s description of the “two obelisks” he may have been referring to the present Cathedral Spires. A map of 1869 shows a feature called the “Three Sisters” along the south valley wall between Cathedral Spires and Sentinel Cascade, at a spot which would correspond with King’s estimate that “The Sisters” were a mile west of Sentinel Rock. Charles Carleton Coffin, Our New Way Round the World (Boston, 1869), 486. Support for the Cathedral Spires hypothesis appears to be found in the words of an 1857 visitor who wrote: “Just above the Bridal Veil are three craggy peaks, rearing their heads far above the surrounding columns, presenting the appearance of lofty triangles. They are called the ‘Brothers’ [Evidently the present three Cathedral Rocks, not the present Three Brothers, which are on the north side of the valley.] A few yards to the right of the Brothers are the ‘Twin Sisters’ They are worthy of notice from their resemblance to each other. When viewed from any position, except directly in front, they appear like one spire or needle peering far above this great cathedral of nature. just above the Sisters is the ‘Sentinel Rock’” Evening Bulletin (San Francisco), July 8, 1857.

103 King greatly overestimated the height of the present Sentinel Rock, which rises a little more than 3,000 feet above the valley floor. Sentinel Dome, nearly a mile southeast of Sentinel Rock, is about 4,200 feet higher than the valley floor, but it can scarcely be described as a “needle.”

104 King’s estimate here is about 1,000 feet too high. It should be remembered that no official surveys of Yosemite had been made by 1860.

105 This figure for the height of Half Dome above the valley floor is reasonably correct. At the present time the summit of this peak, often called South Dome during the 1860’s, is considered to be about 4,888 feet above the ground level at the site of the Upper Hotel, where King’s party lodged.

106 Yosemite Falls, 2,425 feet high, are no longer ranked as the highest in the world. Angel Falls in Venezuela, 3,212 feet in height, now is the unchallenged holder of this honor.

107 The hotel at which King and his friends stopped was the famed Upper Hotel, the second hostelry erected in the valley. It began as a blue tent erected in 1857 by Buck Beardsley and G. A. Hite on the south bank of the Merced River near the present Sentinel Bridge. There the two men conducted a general merchandise business and, perhaps, put up guests while preparing timbers and whipsawing lumber for a new hotel. Construction was started during the spring of 1858, but the work went slowly, and the hotel was not ready for business until the summer of 1859. It is usually said that the first guests were accommodated during May of that year, but a traveler who reached the valley about June 9 reported that “Hights Hotel” was not yet completed. When C. L. Weed, the pioneer photographer of Yosemite, and J. M. Hutchings arrived before the end of the same month, however, the establishment seems to have been operating.

Debts contracted during construction and the failure of an elaborate Fourth of July party soon placed Beardsley and Hite in financial difficulties, and they assigned the hotel to their creditors, two San Francisco merchants named Sullivan and Cashman. Then it was leased for two years, probably 1860-iMi, to Charles Peck, who was the proprietor at the time of King’s visit. In subsequent years the building had a succession of lessees and owners, among the best known of whom were James Mason Hutchings and J. K. Barnard. Long named “Cedar Cottage;” it stood until demolished in 1940.

108 As now measured, the parts of Yosemite Falls have the following heights: Upper Falls, 1430 feet; Intermediate Cascades, 675 feet; Lower Fall, 320 feet; for a total height of 2,425 feet.

109 The meaning and spelling of the name “Yosemite” have been the subjects of much dispute. See Farquhar, Yosemite, the Big Trees, and the High Sierra, 18-19; and Erwin G. Gudde, California Place Names (2nd ed., Berkeley, 1960), 352.

110 King’s North Fork of the Merced River is, of course, the present Tenaya Creek; and his “placid” Lake Ah-wi-yah is the Mirror Lake of today. North Dome, the Indian name of which was generally spelled “To-coy-ae;” actually rises 3,449 feet above Mirror Lake, while the top of South Dome, today’s Half Dome, stands 4,770 feet above the reflecting waters. It is interesting to note that the name “South Dome” was first applied, by the valley’s effective discoverers, the members of the Mariposa Battalion, to the present Sentinel Dome. It was later employed by many persons to designate today’s Half Dome; and it was also given by some to the present Mount Starr King.

111 The stream known as the South Fork in 1860 is today’s Illilouette Creek. The cataract then usually called the “Too-lu-lu-wach;” or “South Branch Waterfall,” is the present Illilouette Fall, 370 feet high.

112 King’s Middle Fork is the main Merced River. In 1860 and for a number of years thereafter the principal trail to Vernal Fall ascended the south bank of the stream.

113 Vernal Fall is 317 feet high.

114 Nevada Fall has an actual height of 594 feet. The lake mentioned by King as being between Vernal and Nevada Falls is the present Emerald Pool.

115 Liberty Cap, directly north of Nevada Fall, rises 1,102 feet above the top of the waterfall.

116 The ridge to which King climbed above Nevada Fall is difficult to identify, there being more than one possibility. Undoubtedly, however, he saw the symmetrical, 9,166-foot peak about 1 3/4 miles southeast of the fall which as early as 1865 carried in his honor the name “Mount Starr King:” His companion on this climb was Alpheus Bull of San Francisco. Frothingham, A Tribute to Thomas Starr King, 187.

The name “Castle Peaks” is no longer in use in the Yosemite region, but in 1860 the present Tower Peak, on the northern boundary of Yosemite National Park, seems to have been known as Castle Peak, although the name for some years was somewhat peripatetic. Francis P. Farquhar, Place Names of the High Sierra (San Francisco, 1926), 23, 95.


ContentsPrevious: Letter 8

Home A - Z FAQ Art Prints Online Library Discussion Forum Muir Weather Maps About Search
Online Library: Title Author California Geology History Indians Muir Mountaineering Nature Management

http://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/vacation_among_the_sierras/