James Hutchings

 Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

First off, I hope you loyal readers had a great holiday… and that you got the red Radio Flyer wagon you asked Santa for. Enjoy the time off and get recharged. Burn off a few of those mashed potatoes. As students of Yosemite and Half Dome, we all strive too learn as much as we can. Today we talk about James Mason Hutchings.


Things were starting to happen soon after the first whites stumbled into the valley in 1851. The first “official” documented tour was led by James Hutchings in 1855. Thomas Ayres, the well known San Francisco artist,  made drawings of the Valley’s sights. Hutchings loved the place so much and saw a dollar around every tree, 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 led to government control of the Valley leading to disputes with the early “settlers.”  Hutchings wanted to be the head cheese and dictate “admission fees” for the park. Luckily that did not happen.  He died in 1902 when visiting the park and his horse reared and tossed him out of his buggy. Ouch. He’s buried there with the granite tombstone bearing the inscription: “Pioneer of Yosemite.”

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Actin’ funny I don’t know why, ‘scuse me while I kiss the sky.” Jimi Hendrix

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com


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