Dr. Bonnie Johanna Gisel
Curator, LeConte Memorial Lodge
Remarks at the LeConte Memorial Lodge Rededication Ceremony,
July 3, 2004
It is with
honor that I welcome our distinguished speakers, guests, and friends on this
celebratory occasion as we gather to rededicate LeConte Memorial Lodge in
service through the Sierra Club to Yosemite National Park, the American people,
our many visitors from around the world, and wilderness everywhere.
LeConte Memorial Lodge was built upon the worldview of Dr. Joseph LeConte,
his thoughtful scientific study, and love for the natural world. Dr.
LeConte, a charter member and board member of the Sierra Club and a beloved
Professor of Geology at the University of California was passionate yet simple. He
possessed an articulate unaffected character, dedicated to making his ideas
animate and forceful in the practical world.
Dr. LeConte rode into Yosemite Valley for the first time in 1870, with eight
university students, at the end of the first year of classes at the University
of California. The summer of 1870 was John Muir’s first summer
in Yosemite and for ten days he traveled with Dr. LeConte’s “University
Excursion Party.” Muir was drawn to Dr. LeConte as he would have
been drawn to a fine lake or towering mountain. Sinewy and slender, Dr.
LeConte studied the grand show, with a fine poetic appreciation of Nature, never
tiring of gazing at the noble forests, lakes, meadows, and mountains. He
maintained sparkling delight like that of a child, “keeping up running
all-day lectures, as if trying to be the tongue of every object in sight.”
In 1875, Dr. LeConte published his reminiscence of the excursion, A Journal
of Ramblings Through the High Sierras of California. He enjoyed
the trip more than any other experience in his life. Returning to Yosemite
many times, he often camped along the Merced River, across from the Royal
Arches, under North Dome and Washington Column.
Dr. Joseph LeConte made his final trip to Yosemite in 1901, as a member of the
first Sierra Club “Outing,” the genesis of excursions intended
to recruit new members, provide an opportunity for members to meet and saunter
with John Muir, create a spirit of fellowship among Club members, and increase
preservation awareness. In Curry Village during preparations for the
trip to Tuolumne Meadows, Dr. LeConte died on July 6. The author of eight
books and two hundred articles on science, religion, and philosophy, Dr.
LeConte, was credited by John Muir, as having inspired, uplifted, and enlightened
his students and his community. His influence spread from mind to mind,
heart to heart, age to age, in ever widening circles.
For more about Dr. Bonnie Gisel:
Return to Rededication Ceremony
Re-Dedication of LeConte Memorial
Michael Reynolds, National Park Service, Yosemite National
Bernie Zaleha, Vice-President, Sierra Club
Bruce Hamilton, Conservation Director, Sierra Club
Bonnie Gisel, Curator, LeConte Memorial Lodge
Harold Wood, Chair, Sierra Club LeConte Memorial Lodge Committee
Centennial Day Photo Album
Rededication Photo Album
Learn more about the LeConte Lodge Centennial.
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Information and Donations
For more information, during the summer contact Sierra Club LeConte Memorial Lodge
Curator, P.O. Box 755, Yosemite, CA 95389, 1-209-372-4542; e-mail:
During the winter, contact LeConte Lodge Committee Chair, Harold Wood, P.O. Box 3543,
Visalia, CA 93278; phone: (559) 697-3525; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tax deductible donations to support the new exhibits and renovation efforts of the
LeConte Memorial can be made to "Sierra Club Foundation," marked for the "LeConte Lodge Fund."
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