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Pioneer Yosemite History Center Online Tour

Ranger Patrol Cabin

Crane Flat, original location of Ranger Patrol Cabin
[click to enlarge]

Crane Flat, original
location of Patrol Cabin
Patrol Cabin, outside view
[click to enlarge]

Crane Flat Patrol Cabin
In 1905, California ceded Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias for inclusion in Yosemite National Park. The ceded land was accepted by the federal government in 1906, adding 31,104 acres to the Park. Thus, after sixteen years, the Valley and Grove became part of Yosemite National Park.

In 1914, the army stopped coming to the Yosemite, but the National Park Service had not as yet been established. In the intervening three years, the management of this huge park fell to a group of fifteen civilian rangers, most of whom were formerly army scouts. They were hired to protect the Park and its visitors — a big change from 150 cavalry men the previous year.

They were provided with three patrol cabins. This one, built at Crane Flat in 1915, incurred the following costs:
      Materials — $250.98       Labor — $685.36
. . . a wise use of your tax dollar in the early 1900’s.

Their duties were made more difficult by the fact that automobiles were allowed to enter the park. Buildings such as this were used as automobile check stations. Here, drivers paid a fee to enter the park ($5.00 in 1915!), and were informed of regulations. Yosemite faced a critical issue during this period, as John Muir led an unsuccessful campaign to save Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley from being dammed for a domestic water supply.

Jean Witter, 1915
[click to enlarge]

Jean Witter, 1915
(from Sargent’s
Protecting Paradise)
In 1917 these civilian rangers were absorbed into the fledgling National Park Service, created in 1916 to administer our unique national preserves.

The ranger patrol cabin is furnished in a fashion reflecting the lifestyle of a ranger in the early 1920s. Jean Witter was its first inhabitant. He was one of a handful of College boy rangers who served between the time the Cavalry pulled out in 1914 and before the Park Service came in in 1917. Jean Witter’s name and fraternity is carved in the cabin. Jean Witter later became a stockbroker and, with two cousins, founded Dean Witter & Company.

The ranger cabin was moved from Crane Flat in 1960. The building was:

occupied until early 1950s, then stood empty and in terrible state of repair. The building was dismantled, the floor cut into pieces, and transported to the new site. The chimney was dismantled and reconstructed using the original building materials, with new mortar. According to Mike Adams, the mason that was reconstructing the chimney built it in too “neat” a fashion and had to tear it down and rebuild it in a more rustic fashion. Reconstruction completed in 1961 at cost of $81,054.65 (Greene, p. lviii).

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Copyright 2005 by Dan E. Anderson. All rights reserved.

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