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Wawona’s Yesterdays (1961) by Shirley Sargent


FIRST RANGER

Archie Leonard’s claim to Yosemite fame lies in the fact that he was one the first two civilian rangers to protect the area from fire, sheepherders, poachers and all enemies—natural or otherwise.

He was an early guide in the region and, in 1881, had run a ten-horse pack train between Lundy and Yosemite for a day and a half trip that cost $8.00 one way. 3 After 1875, he was foreman of the Washburn road gang until the Spanish-American War called away many of the troopers from their summer Camp A. E. Wood. 70

In 1899, Leonard and Charlie Leidig, first white boy born in Yosemite Valley, were appointed forest rangers by the Government. During the winter,

Archie Leonard
they patrolled and guarded the vast, forested acres of Yosemite National Park and, summers, guided and helped patrolling troopers. 71

Leonard’s efforts were appreciated and praised by different Army Acting Superintendents in their yearly reports to the Secretary of Interior, and he continued to serve as a Ranger after 1916 when the National Park Service took over administration of the Park.

Between 1914, when the soldiers left to guard the Mexican border, and 1916, when the NPS took over, Leonard, Leidig and seven summer “college boy” rangers guarded the Park. Alan Sproul, later president of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York went straight to patrolling the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees from his high school graduation and saw a lot of Leonard.

In his article published in the April, 1952, issue of Yosemite Nature Notes, Sproul remembered, “. . . Leonard was not very communicative. He was always pleasant, and I should say tolerant of the ‘college boy rangers’ . . . He knew the Park by long association and by years of travel over its trails, but he was too diffident, too inarticulate, too old to share much of his knowledge with us . . . His hair was gray and rather long, and his mustache drooped. His uniform was a dirty slouch hat, distinguished in its slouchiness, a grayish-colored shirt which wouldn’t show the dirt of a season, and overalls (now called jeans) worn low on the belt. He spoke in a soft, indistinct voice, surrounded by a pleasant smile. His badge couldn’t lend him authority, but his recognized knowledge of the whole region did.”

A Wawona old-timer says that Leonard lived in a rough, board house near the Indian camp with his half-Indian wife, twin sons and two daughters. 70 He died at Stockton, Calif., on June 19, 1921 after a career which added immeasurably to the preservation of Yosemite National Park. 72


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