Walker's garage, early 1920s: The building to the left is the
IOOF (Oddfellows) Lodge at the corner of 6th & Highway 140. It
later housed the local drug store on the first floor; that building
is now a clothing store, Fremont House.
This is the location of garage before the wood
buildings burned down. The wood buildings on this site burned
down; the new building was built with rock walls. C. J. Walker
bought the building from Mr. Gann, whose descendents still live in
Mariposa. After Mr. Walker's death the building was sold to his
daughter and son-in-law, Marge and Jim Dulcich. It was first a
restaurant, then a grocery store. The Dulcich's son now operates a
hardware store in the building.
Hotel building, 5th and Highway 140: Built in 1859 by John F.
McNamara, destroyed by fire in 1866, rebuilt in 1867 by Herman
Schlageter. Presidents Ulysses Grant & James Garfield stayed
Mariposa, facing north, 1920s: The present-day
highway extends straight in the direction of the tire tracks, just
before they turn, and is lined with businesses for about a mile.
When the highway was first built, it turned where the tracks turn,
and went past the high school, joining the present route about two
Walker left rear with Nelson family, Wawona Tree: Mr. Nelson was
the resident engineer when the state built Highway 140 from Mariposa
to El Portal. The Wawona Tree, AKA the Tunnel Tree, is located in
the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias in the south part of Yosemite
National Park. A tunnel was cut through the tree in 1881, enlarging an existing fire scar. Two men were paid $75 for the job. The tree had a slight lean, which increased when the tunnel was completed.
Travelers would come to have their picture taken either driving through it or standing underneath the tree.
It was photographed accommodating everything from horse-drawn carriages in the late nineteenth century to automobiles in the 1960s.
The tree fell in 1969 under an estimated two-ton load of snow on its crown. The giant sequoia is estimated to have been 2,300 years
old, and is now known as the Fallen Tunnel Tree.
Walker left; Mrs. Washburn holding reins; soldiers from company
stationed at Wawona:
At various times, the Washburns operated stage coach lines into
Yosemite and operated the Wawona hotel. Wawona is located near the
south entrance of the park, about 25 miles from Yosemite Valley.
early 1900s: The caption provided for this photo was "a
gathering at Camp Curry." However, after looking closely at the
photo, it is clear that there are two redwood trees in the
background. These trees did not grow in the valley. It was probably taken at the Mariposa Grove,
Yosemite's largest and best known stand of redwoods.
Starting in 1899, Camp
Curry was the iconic park concessionaire, manager of the Ahwanee
Hotel, store, restaurants, camping cabins, and even a swimming pool,
for over half a century. The Curry family sold the company in the
1960s, and it was managed (and mis-managed) by a succession of
owners, until the park concession was awarded in a bidding process
to the Delaware North
Company in 1993.
camp at Exchequer Dam, 1925: Exchequer Dam, built
on the Merced River between 1924 and 1926, is owned by the Merced
Irrigation District and provides water for farming and power
generation, as well as recreation for mountain and valley residents
alike. The 281,000 acre feet of Lake
McClure was increased to over one million with the completion of
New Exchequer Dam in 1967.
1925: Merced Falls was named for a set of rapids on the Merced River which was used in the 1890s to power several
mills located in the town. A pair of sawmills in Merced Falls cut
lumber for the Yosemite and Sugar Pine Lumber Company, which shipped
logs down from the Sierra Nevada on the Yosemite Valley Railroad. The city continued to function well into the 1920s as a hub for tourists
traveling into Yosemite Valley via the railroad. With the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad north-south
through the Central Valley, Merced Falls and many other towns that were not on the railroad
began to decline. The rapids themselves were inundated by McSwain
Dam, built across the Merced River in the 1960s, and the community itself is almost abandoned.
& Mrs. Curry and friends leaving El Portal for home in
Valley Railroad ran from Merced to El Portal, and operated from
1907 to 1946. From El Portal passengers rode horse-drawn carriages
on a three hour trip to Yosemite Valley. Later motorized vehicles
provided this service, but the completion of Highway 140 from Merced
to Yosemite spelled the end for this historic railway. During its
operation, the railroad also provided freight service, hauling logs,
lumber and minerals down the canyon.
Bagby, 1920s: Bagby
was a stop on the Yosemite Valley Railroad, as well as a popular
recreation site where State Highway 49 crosses the Merced River. The community began as a ferry called Ridley’s Ferry that operated between 1850 and 1852 at or near this location. Then in 1859 Col. John
C. Fremont established a 16-stamp ore-crushing mill here, and named the community that grew up at the milling complex on the south side of the river
Mills, after his father in law, Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri.
In 1890 boarding houses, cabins, a mill building, a post office and a store were established on the north side of the river. The community that grew up there was called
Bagby, after B. A. Bagby, a local hotel owner. The completion of New
Exchequer Dam and subsequent rise in the level of Lake McClure in
the 1960s inundated what was left of the town.
12. Mormon Bar: This community got its name when a company of
Mormon soldiers built a log cabin on a hill in the fall of 1848. It
is located on Mariposa Creek, south of the junction with Stockton
Creek, near the present day fairgrounds. (Carlton Watkins photo)
13. Carson: Carson was located at what is now the junction of
Yaqui Gulch Road and Highway 140. It was a mining community with a
thriving tannery (Watkins photo)
14. Hite's Cove Mine: Hite's
Cove mine was located on the South Fork of the Merced River, and
became the center of a dramatic legal battle. The story is told in
full in a book The Millionaire Miner and the Indian Girl. This
link reports on the disposition of the case. A popular hiking
trail leads into the area from Highway 140 near El Portal.
15. Laffayett H. Bunnell: An
article from California Med in 1964 recounts the events
surrounding Dr. Bunnell's choice of names. You can see a scanned
version, or choose a downloadable PDF file.
16. Angevine Reynolds: A former Texas ranger, Reynolds edited
the Mariposa Gazette, served as county clerk, and was involved in
various business enterprises. There's a nice biography here.
17. John Diltz: Captain Diltz was one of the more successful
miners of Mariposa County. His
autobiography was included in Newell Chamberlain's history of
the area, Call of Gold.
18. The Call of Gold: Many of the pictures here and
extensive information about the people and locations pictured are
included in The Call of Gold, a history of early Mariposa
County by Newell D. Chamberlain. The entire
book is available on line, but ideally one should read the
recent, annotated version, which corrects some of Chamberlain's
19. Mormon Bar: This is located about two miles south of
Mariposa, just off present day Highway 49 South. My best guess is
that it dates from the early 20th century. The building on the left
was still standing but not in use when I was a young child in the
was posted by Mariposa historian Tom Phillips on the Facebook page You
Know You're From Mariposa When... This page has hundreds of photos
of old and not-so-old Mariposa and its residents, and is well worth
material includes Wikipedia
and many other Internet sites)