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Pioneer Yosemite History Center Online Tour

George Anderson Pioneer Home

Big Meadows (now Foresta), original location of George Anderson Home
[click to enlarge]

Big Meadows (now Foresta),
original location of
Anderson Home
George Anderson home, outside view
[click to enlarge]
Men such as Scots emigrant George Anderson provided many of these visitor needs, serving as blacksmiths, cooks and trail guides. Anderson, a Scottish sailor, goldseeker, and jack-of-all trades, represents the early pioneers and settlers of the area. Tourist parties provided business for local residents. George Anderson, a miner and blacksmith, worked as a guide in the late 1800’s, and escorted visitors on expeditions in Yosemite. Anderson himself built many of the trails still used in the Valley.

This simple cabin of George Anderson was built in the 1870s. Anderson used this floorless cabin as his residence when not working elsewhere in the area. He spent his winters in this building and his summers as a blacksmith in Yosemite Valley. The cabin was originally located near Big Meadow, northwest of Yosemite Valley (now called Foresta).

Coffee can brewing over a fire
George Anderson home, inside view
[click to enlarge]
In October, 1875, George Anderson was the first man to climb Half Dome. Although many had tried to scale the summit before him, Anderson laboriously drilled holes for spikes all the way up the back side to its peak. Following the entrepreneurial spirit that energized many of Yosemite’s first settlers, Anderson soon began charging for tours to the top. Visitors used his rope for several years thereafter to make their own ascents. George Anderson was planning on building a wooden stairway to the top of Half Dome, with the hope of making a small fortune from tolls. While collecting timber for the project he became sick and died alone in this cabin.

Although Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove had been set aside for protection by the State of California in 1864, prior claims to the land caused legal battles between residents and the government. Land claims would be fought for many years.

In Shirley Sargent’s Protecting Paradise, Jim Cuneo is asked by Doug Hubbard how the small cabin was furnished. He said “Gunny sacks and maybe a blanket on a make-shift bed.” For the kitchen, “A wood stove; frying pan and a saucepan or two.” For dishes, “Maybe a plate, but he probably ate straight out of the pan, I do.” Flour hung from rafters to keep the mice away. The chair is made of deerskin.

The Anderson Cabin is listed in the National Register of Historic Places (exploration/settlement, local).

More information

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