Reminiscing on George Anderson

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     In the publication “Yosemite Nature Notes #46” of 1977, Steve Harrison did some good research in the ancient scrolls and presented tantalizing information on George Anderson, the first man up Half Dome in 1875. After that accomplishment, there are several references to his desire to build a wooden stairway on Half Dome. No kidding. Documentation was thin back then (no Wolfe Blitzer on scene) but it’s believed he discussed it with the Commissioners and went about collecting materials for his quest. He had a cabin somewhere below sub dome, perhaps to the east of the current Half Dome trail – it or its remnants have never been found. Anderson’s Foresta  cabin is now in Wawona at the Pioneer History exhibit. 

     A description of the stairway appeared in the Mariposa Gazette in 1876: “The stairway will be about 2,000 feet long, fastened by bolts in the rock on the side of the dome, in the most secure manner, and will be arranged with wings or arms extending all the way on each side, making it convenient and comfortable for visitors to rest and view the wonderful scenery below. The projector of this work expects to have it completed sometime the coming Fall, and ready for visitors next summer.”

     Well, of course it didn’t happen. References beyond these meager words are all we know. But what a great idea to get over the current cables debate – oh yeah, no way Jose.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: The fire is the main comfort of the camp, whether in summer or winter, and is about as ample at one season as at another.  It is as well for cheerfulness as for warmth and dryness.” – Henry David Thoreau

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –


2 Responses to “Reminiscing on George Anderson”

  1. Dean Says:

    It really was an amazing feat, and it is of great historic and national significance.

    The Alex Honnold of his day.

    The cables are George’s legacy and that link with history shouldn’t be broken.

    I’m surprised hollywood haven’t picked up on it…what’s Danny Boyle up to?

    • mrhalfdome Says:

      George was a man’s man. More on him in my next blog. There is nil recognition of him at Yosemite. His tombstone is just a hunk of rock laying on the ground. I honored him with George Anderson Day on Oct 12 last year.

      Some old timers think that to single him out negates the work of all those that followed. But we honor Christopher Columbus for his one-time feat, don’t we? Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon. The men who erected the cables in 1919 put a nice arch at Sub Dome and a plaque that said it was in honor of Anderson. It is gone – a victim of the winter weather up there. In today’s PC world attmpts to repelace that plaque are met with “no human impact in the wilderness.” statements. PC.

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