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Wawona’s Yesterdays (1961) by Shirley Sargent


FOREWORD

For years, I have driven by Wawona on frequent trips to Yosemite Valley, Big Meadows and Tuolumne Meadows with only brief, passing twinges of curiosity. In 1960, I began asking questions of Yosemite old-timers and learned that, in the stagecoach days which ended in 1916, Wawona was almost as remote and unknown to them as Bankok.

I began reading then, and in the literally hundreds of books, articles and pamphlets on Yosemite, few words were devoted to “Bankok” — adjectives and verbage from the 1850’s to date were spent prodigally on Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees. Wawona was just an overnight stop. Just? I was challenged and began a quest for information by prowling around Wawona, interviewing residents, writing old-timers, consulting official records, tape recordings, newspapers and written manuscripts, finding photographs, letters, and poems.

The results of this quest were a fascinating hodge-podge of history, anecdote and colorful personalities which I have sorted, sifted and set down in this history. There are omissions — possible errors — that may cause someone to bring in further, relevant data on Yosemite’s Bangkok Wawona. The present study deals primarily with the period 1851 to 1932. I hope that a later writer will complete and expand the story.

Usually, a research writer is imagined as a lonely figure slumped et a table in a library, museum or courthouse reading books, newspapers, ledgers, manuscripts, letters — random words in elusive search of a few pertinent ones. For me, this picture hasn’t been completely true. There have been friendly people to suggest sources, find old photos, answer questions and give me encouragement.

My special thanks go to Ruth Glass, Doug Hubbard and Keith Trexler of the Yosemite Museum; Mary Isabel Fry, Rita Thurman and Carey Bliss of the Huntington Library; Ruth Allen of the Pasadena Public Library; Bertha Schroeder, Mariposa researcher; Yvonne Robinson Solomons, Mary and Bill Hood, fellow Yosemite devotees; Carl P. Russell, Yosemite historian; Virginia Alexander, typist extraordinary; Tim Smith, young mapmaker, and Laurence Degnan, Hattie Bruce Harris, Jay C. Bruce and Clarence Washburn, Yosemite settlers.

S. S.


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