The Stoneman House,

as seen through the Mariposa Gazette
compilied by Tom Philips

June 16th, 1894

Yosemite Commissioners Meeting.

The annual meeting of the Board of Yosemite Commissioners was held in the valley on the 6th. Governor Markham presiding and all the members were present. This is the first time a full board has been in attendance in many years. A letter from the Sierra Club complaining of the defacing of the rocks and trees in the valley, also recommending a mounted patrol in Yosemite to assist the Guardian in arresting persons violating the law and recommending that a tablet be placed at Glacier Point, under the supervision of Professor Le Conte, was read.

The Guardian reported all trails and bridges in good shape and recommended that the banks of the river in the valley be protected some way. He also recommended the grubbing out of the small trees and underbrush covering the floor of the valley. The application for rebate of rent of the Stoneman House was presented by J. J. Cook, on the account of the diversion of travel to the Sentinel hotel. Petitions for a meat market, photograph gallery, etc., were read and referred to the Executive Committee. A petition from J. T. McLeau asking that a bridge be constructed over Cascade creek was referred to a special committee. The election of officers was next in order, George W. Sperry being nominated by O’Brien for vice President and unanimously elected. Field nominated John F. Sheeham of San Francisco for Secretary and Treasurer, and he was elected. Kidder, Field and O’Brien were elected members of the Executive Committee. Clarke, the present Guardian, was re-elected for the ensuing year. The Board after an executive session adjourned to meet in San Francisco in July. John P. Irish retired from the board, and his successor will be appointed upon the Governor’s return to Sacramento.

August 4th, 1894

Yosemite Commissioners.

The Yosemite commissioners met in San Francisco on July 30th, to transact business connected with the valley. The committee on roads and trails submitted their reports on the condition of trails and highways in the reservation, and it was decided that fencing was necessary on some of the trails, as a precaution against accidents. The committee recommended the construction of stone walls along dangerous places, and until there can be built brush fences are to be made on all bad points.

The committee on preservation of the valley recommended that all the dead trees should be cut down and removed for firewood. It was also suggested that $75 or $100 be expended on clearing underbrush so as to open new vistas amid the trees, and $250 for improving the Happy Isles. This report was referred to the executive committee. Manger Glasscock of the Central Hotel in the Valley petitioned to be allowed to retain possession for another year at the nominal rent of $1. This was denied and the rent fixed at $800 a year. Permission to close Stoneman House for repairs was granted, but a petition of the lessee for a rebate on his rent was denied.

December 8th, 1894

Yosemite Commissioners’ Report.

The annual report of the Yosemite Valley and Big Tree Grove Commissioner has been issued. It recounts the improvements made in the hotels, which will add to the comfort of visitors. A new truss bridge had bee erected across the Merced River to replace the one swept away by the floods. The big trees, singly and in groups, have been surrounded by roadways for the convenience of tourists and as a protection against fire. The commission desires an appropriation to remove brush and dead trees and to restrain Merced River from overflows which threaten the buildings and trees.

January 19th, 1895

Prof. Muir and the Park

A trite saying which is supposed to be traceable either to the gospel of Confucius or to the Koran, likens the chance of certain things, to the same chances a snowball would have in Hades. After reading Prof. John Muir's article in the Examiner on Caminetti's bill, and thoroughly considering the tariff regulations existing under the present administration, sheepmen and farmers of this part of California will do doubt reckon themselves like unto the traditional snowball.

Mr. Muir is a learned man, a noted author and a great naturalist, and he evidently thought he knew exactly what he was talking about when he discoursed upon the wrong which will inflicted upon the world should the Caminetti bill be passed. But we, the residents of Mariposa County--the spot favored with the possession of Yosemite, and the giant trees, know that he spoke in spirit of narrow, blind misunderstanding, if not of willful prejudice. His entire interview given in the above named paper shows a stubborn disregard of fact, and complete ignorance of the true character of the soil, size and resources of this county. He bases his fight against reducing the park boundaries, upon his love for the grand forests of the Sierras. That is laudable, but the love of truth and justice should outweigh even that.

He declares the farms of the seventy-five settlers within the boundaries of the park, would not, if combined, make one moderate sized ranch; that two or three exceptions their farms are comprised of one to two rods of ground devoted to the culture of vegetables. The statement is conclusive proof that Mr. Muir's knowledge of this county is confined to Yosemite Valley alone. He attributes the origin of the park measure, solely to the efforts of a few sheep owners, who desire to pasture their flocks on the herbage of the mountains, and he pictures most pathetically the ravages sheep have made on the giant timber, and becomes almost tearful over the hoof-marks about the roots of the Sequoias. He wants an appropriation big enough to increase the military force, and want outposts of soldiers all around the park. He would like to see the sheep exterminated, no matter what losses or hardship accrue to the owners, and he entreats all loyal Californians to oppose the bill.

It is just such prejudices, un-American minds as his, that can often work more evil in one newspaper interview, than the work of congress will undo in years. The revengeful spirit of an angry woman caused the establishment of the national park, and the narrowness of a man who has allowed his so-called love of nature to overbalance his love of mankind, or of justice, will do all things possible to defeat the noble work begun by Mr. Caminnetti

June 1st, 1895

The Messrs. Washburn are arranging to build a fish hatchery on Big Creek, about one mile from the Wawona Hotel. It will have a capacity of one million, and the product from this trout hatchery will be used to stock Mirror Lake, the South Fork, and many other lakes and streams in the mountains. A half-million eggs will soon be brought from the Tahoe hatchery to the Wawona hatchery. This will be a great benefit to all the surrounding country, as within a few years every mountain stream will be filled with trout. The Washburns are doing this work at their own expenses, as the Yosemite commissioners could not use the State funds for this purpose.

June 8th 1895

The Yosemite commissioner held their annual meeting at the Valley Wednesday. Governor Budd was prevented from being present by a bad attack of rheumatism.

May 30th, 1896

Yosemite Commissioners.

The annual meeting of the Yosemite Valley Commissioners, which will be held in the Valley on June 2d, will be enlivened by Governor Budd’s remarks on the amount of money the Commissioners expended in repairing the Sentinel Hotel. In addition the Governor will express forcible views as to how the valley should be run, the way in which hotel and stage line concessions are granted, the amount of money expended and the poor results obtained therefrom in the general management of the valley, the way in which the commissioners have been accepting pass favors from the one stage line into the valley for their friends, and other matters of like import.

The Sentinel Hotel, which is leased by Mr. Glasscock, was found to need repairing two years ago. The Commissioners instructed the Executive Committee which at that time composed of John F, Kidder of Grass Valley, John P. Irish of Oakland, and H. K. Field of San Francisco, to proceed with the work. The Executive Committee was given full power to act, and let all contracts and paid all bills. When they made their report the Commissioners were astounded at the magnitude of the sum expended. The amount was over $12,000, nearly treble what the Commissioners expected would be paid.

There was some friction in the commission at that time, but it was carefully suppressed, and the only thinks that resulted from the little difficulty was the failure of John P. Irish to be re-appointed to succeed himself. It was at the close of the Markham Administration, and John P. Irish was Secretary of the Commission. He wanted to succeed himself, but Governor Markham made a little investigation into the cost of the repairs of the Sentinel Hotel. It did not go very far, and Max Goldberg of San Francisco was appointed to succeed Irish.

Governor Budd has taken hold of this old matter and will make it the text of a lecture. The terms of four Commissioners—George R. Sperry of Stockton, H. K. Fieled of San Francisco, C. G. Clinch of San Francisco, and John Boggs of Colusa—expire at the meeting in the valley and Governor Budd will have an opportunity to appoint four Democrats all of the retiring commissioners except Boggs being Republicans. Governor Budd has announced that he will make the board half and half and as the four hold-overs are Republicans he will be privileged to appoint four Democrats. If this is done the Board will then be Democratic for the Governor holds the controlling vote. This may mean the retirement of John F. Sheehan, the Secretary.

Governor Budd will hint that to be Yosemite Valley Commissioner does not mean that the place shall be used as a vehicle for extending to friend courtesies obtained at the expense of the Commissioners. The lack of competition in the valley, the way in hotel proprietors have closed their hotels and forced travel into one hotel, the general expense attached to the average trip, caused by the lack of competition and the monopolistic way in which the valley is run will be commented upon by Governor Budd, who thinks that the Yosemite Valley should be operated for the benefit of the people. Most of the Commissioners are bracing themselves for the shock they are sure will come.

John P. Irish says that he knows nothing about a Gubernatorial investigation into the affairs of the valley, in which he had been directly interested.

"The construction of the Sentinel Hotel," said John P. Irish last night, "was accomplished by the rebuilding of a ramshackled structure." The Commissioners said that it was a desirable location. The improvements consisted of roofing lathing and plastering, the construction of a permanent foundation—and in brief they made a new building. The hotel was needed. The Eastern and foreign tourists who visited the valley were accustomed to living on the European plan, and they had no such conveniences at the other hotel. The Stoneman House is a large, four-story affair built on the seashore resort plan, and altogether not adapted for service where there is no gas and no fire apparatus and no insurance. "It was built at a cost of $40,000. A little joker in the Act of the Legislature providing for it makes it impossible to derive more than 3 per cent income from it. The rental to the State is only $1,200 a year. The Sentinel House cost for rebuilding $12,000. The rental was $800 a year , or nearly 7 percent on the investment. This speaks for itself. I do not know what Governor Budd can find to investigate. —Examiner.