Early Yosemite happenings

Half Dome – Yosemite MusingDome 20 062As students of Yosemite and Half Dome, we all strive to learn as much as we can about them. Things were starting to happen in Yosemite soon after discovery in 1851…the first “official” tour was led by James Hutchings in 1855. He loved the place so much and saw a dollar around every fir, that he published a periodical called “Hutchings’ Illustrated California magazine.” The purpose of which was to attract tourists from the east with $$$ to view this new wonder. The magazine ran from 1856 to 1860. Seeing a flood of city slickers heading west, in 1864, he purchased a hotel built by Buck Beardsley and G. Hite (of Hite’s Cove fame). Hutchings followed his magazine with a book called “Scenes of Wonder and Curiosity in California.” He was a one-man Dept of Tourism! The Yosemite Grant of the same year began real government control in the Valley leading to disputes with the early ”settlers.” Mr. H. was a leading contestant in these battles. The California Governor and the Yosemite Commissioners had a trying time attempting to relocate the early settlers of the Valley. J. C. Lamon, who lived there in 1860 was one of the first settlers. However, many claims had been made which were invalid under United States laws, as they were not accompanied by permanent residency. Hutchings and Lamon were offered leases for ten years, but they both declined, hopping to get a better deal later. The CA Legislature of 1867-8, passed a bill giving them each 160 acres of land. The resolution was sent to the US Congress to bless – the House did but the Senate never acted on it. The sentiment was that if all this land were given to private individuals, the valley could become “like Niagara Falls, a gigantic institution for fleecing the public.” Further, it was strongly held that the holders of 320 acres of land could have a monopoly of the Valley, especially as they would not be hampered by any restrictions and would be above all control by the Commissioners. Me thinks the Foresta and Yosemite West were tracts that were grandfathered in as private land when the boundaries of Yosemite were being sorted out.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “My one regret in life is that I’m not somebody else.” – Woody Allen

*Carpe Diem Experience–Rick Deutsch–www.HikeHalfDome.com*


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