Goat Mountain P900 SPS
Munger Peak
Mt. Hutchings P500

Fri, Oct 19, 2007

With: Steve Sywyk

Goat Mountain
Mt. Hutchings
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 Profile

Mt. Hutchings (10,785 ft.)

Named by James Hutchings in 1875

Also Creek

"James Mason Hutchings (1818-1902), born in [Northamptonshire,] England, came to California in 1849, with the first tourist party to visit Yosemite Valley, 1855. Hutchings made a living by running a hotel in the valley, but his reputation came from being the formost booster and promoter of the glories of Yosemite. He published Hutchings' California Magazine, and wrote two memorable books: Scenes of Wonder and Curiosity in California, and In the Heart of the Sierras.

It is odd that the only significant feature named for Hutchings is a peak overlooking Kings Canyon. In the fall of 1875 Hutchings crossed the Sierra from Independence to Kings Canyon; the peak may have been named then. It first appears on John Muir's map accompanying his article in Century Magazine, 1891."
- Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada

"The transition of Yosemite from a mysterious Indian stronghold to a world-famous scenic wonder was incredibly rapid. hardly had the murderous conflicts of 1851 and 1852 subsided when rumors began to spread from Mariposa of spectacular waterfalls and immense cliffs. They caught the attention of a yound Englishman, James M. Hutchings, whose experiences in the mining regions had led him to believe that an illustrated magazine, supplying the public with what he termed 'solid information,' would be well received. If the facts about Yosemite were anything like the rumors, they were worth looking into and would be lively subjects for his magazine. Accordingly he engaged an artist, Thomas A. Ayers, who had been making a name for himself with well-executed portrayals of the California scene, and set out for Yosemite. At Mariposa he had difficulty in finding anyone who knew how to get to the Valley, but at length two reliable Indians were secured as guides and late in June, 1855, Hutchings and Ayers, with two companions, Walter Millard and Alexander Stair, took the obscure trail. The first tourists to Yosemite were on their way. They spent five days in the Valley, exploring, sketching, and calculating the heights of falls and cliffs. They beauty of the scene and the magnitude of its features far exceeded expectations. Upon returning to Mariposa, Hutchings wrote for the Mariposa Gazette an account that marked the beginning of a century of descriptions that practically exhausted teh thesaurus of adjectives."
- Francis Farquhar, History of the Sierra Nevada

While Hutchings found Yosemite spectacularly beautiful, he also believed it could be handsomely profitable as well. He led some of the first tourist parties to the region, set up residence, and later a hotel and a sawmill [who had John Muir as one of its first employees in 1869]. Along with James C. Lamon, a native of Virginia who settled in Yosemite in 1859, and a few others, attempts were made to fix claims to the Valley for private enterprise to exploit. Frederick L. Olmstead and Israel W. Raymond played key roles is getting the federal government to cede the land to the state of California for the establishment of a state park.

"The greatest problem that confronted the Commissioners [consisting of Frederick Olmstead, Josiah Whitney, Israel Raymond, William Ashburner (a member of the Whitney Survey), George Coulter, and Galen Clark, who became the first Guardian of Yosemite Park] was the matter of the claims made for title to lands under the preemption laws. In this, Hutchings played the leading part, with Lamon following along. Lamon had been a bona fide settler since 1859 and had a better case than did Hutchings, who could hardly claim residence until the spring of 1864, when he brought his wife to live in the Valley. The Commissioners rejected all preemption claims on the ground that they had not been completed before the State became the owner of the land. They offered ten-year leases to Hutchings and Lamon, but Hutchings would have none of it. Ejectment was ordered. Lawsuits and appeals followed. Hutchings sought remedy in Congress and the state legislature and almost succeeded. But in the end his efforts were fruitless. The Supreme Court of the United States in 1873 upheld a decision of the California Supreme Court which had been adverse to the claimants, and that ended the legal proceedings. But Hutchings had one more move; he sought compensation for his 'improvements.' The Commissioners were glad to get rid of him and supported his plea to the legislature, which complied with an appropriation of $60,000 to be divided between Lamon, Hutchings, and two others. Hutchings was allotted $24,000, but was far from satisfied. 'Thus ended,' he sneered, 'the unequal contest, of many years, between the Board of the Yo Semite Commissioners and the Yo Semite settlers. Comment would be superfluous, as facts not only tell their own story, but suggest their own inferences.' It worthy of note that the Commissioners, in their Report, stated that 'they have never heard but one expression of opinion with regard to the amounts which all the parties received, namely: that the State has dealt by them most munificently.' Hutchings took out a lease and continued to operate his hotel."
- Francis Farquhar, History of the Sierra Nevada

References to can also be found in these files:

  • More of Bob's Trip Reports

    For more information see these SummitPost pages: Goat Mountain

    This page last updated: Sat Apr 7 17:02:15 2007
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