Yosemite National Park and LeConte Memorial Lodge
U.S. National Park Service
Remarks at the LeConte Memorial Lodge Rededication Ceremony,
July 3, 2004
Good morning and welcome to Yosemite and the re-dedication of the LeConte
Memorial Lodge on its centennial year. I’m Mike Reynolds and I’m
here on behalf of Yosemite National Park Superintendent Michael Tollefson who
could not be here and who sends his best wishes. I’m one of his senior
staff and the planning manager for the park.
On this bright and beautiful day here in Yosemite Valley, we can all be reminded
of Joseph LeConte and his love and passion for Yosemite - both from his heart
and from his intellect as he pursued knowledge here, and then inspired other
great minds to come to this great place and research and teach countless others
about Yosemite and its wonders.
One of my favorite images of LeConte is told by Edward Parsons - a contemporary
of LeConte’s and another famous Yosemite icon in his own right. Parson
recalls a day with LeConte standing on a rock getting soaked by the spray of
Yosemite Falls -something we can still do today thanks to the dedication of
preservationists like all of you here today. LeConte, according to Parson’s
memory “raised his arms aloft and shouted in the exuberance of his
joy and delight at the magnificent spectacle before him. “
Indeed, we should all raise our arms aloft and shout for exuberant joy each
time we enter this beautiful valley and park. This great day is no exception.
Today in addition to remembering LeConte and the early contributions of the
Sierra Club to Yosemite, we are also here to celebrate the unique non-partisan
educational partnership that memorializes him and countless others in
the Sierra Club and has existed here in Yosemite for over 100 years-indeed
even pre-dates the formal establishment of Yosemite as a National Park.
100 years ago on this spot a group much like this one today dedicated this
memorial to serve the curiosity and the intellectual needs of thousands of
visitors to Yosemite since. In front of this unique Tudor revival building
which echoes through its architecture the magnificent cathedral surrounding
it, a partnership for education continued in this Lodge for visitors
and the public by the Sierra Club after its initial origins under the auspices
of the State of California which had jurisdiction over Yosemite Valley until
the early 1900’s and asked the Sierra Club to establish the first reading
room and education center at Sinnings Cottage in 1898 over in the old Yosemite
Village near Sentinel Bridge today. After LeConte Memorial Lodge was
built, that education partnership has continued to this day.
Today we call the NPS and Sierra Club relationship here at LeConte a “partnership” and
we could not run Yosemite or serve its visitors without the great partners
we have. These partners are undertaking everything from raising funds for projects
(Yosemite Fund), selling the books and operating visitor centers (Yosemite
Association), fixing trails (Yosemite Conservation Corps, Student Conservation
Association), running an institute for thousands of school children (Yosemite
Institute) - all of which were inspired by the first partnership started here
by the Sierra Club.
LeConte Memorial Lodge is important to Yosemite not only as its first education
concept for visitors but also its early lectures - a virtual who’s who
of history on Yosemite’s first science and research - names like Grinnell,
Matthes, and Jepson, all University of California and in some cases Sierra
Club legends - are in old programs I was privileged to dig up in our research
library. I would have loved to have heard Grinnell discuss zoology. Indeed
as a testament to those early lectures and work by folks like Joseph Grinnell
and LeConte, this year our scientists are re-visiting the Grinnell trans-sierra
transects he set up over 100 years ago to track and monitor the changes to
the fauna of the Sierra and Yosemite. This is in thanks to another partnership
- the Yosemite Fund. Much of that early work we benefit from today has ties
to this place and its concept as a learning and education center. In fact,
a few weeks ago up at Wawona in the Southern end of the park, we dedicated
a new science and research station - the Sierra Nevada Research Institute that
will be run by the newest campus of the University of California in Merced.
Partnerships continue to grow from the seeds planted here long ago.
Finally, another important link to Yosemite National Park for the LeConte
Memorial Lodge is its designation as a National Historic Landmark - a unique
status of historic and culture sites granted to a few unique places around
the country with national significance and one of only 5 here in Yosemite (Wawona
Hotel, Ranger Club, LeConte, Memorial Lodge, Parsons Lodge, and the Ahwahnee
Hotel). According to our nomination papers on file for LeConte, it is significant
for its unique architecture (like no other in a National Park) and for themes
of early conservation and education.
I will close my remarks today by mentioning that Superintendentt Tollefson
believes that education is one of the most important things we do in the National
Parks today. I think that sentiment fits well with a centennial celebration
for education and partnership represented here by the LeConte Memorial Lodge.
On behalf of Superintendent Tollefson and the NPS staff here in Yosemite,
congratulations to the Sierra Club and to LeConte on its 100 birthday as a
partner in education and the growth of knowledge of Yosemite and the Sierra
May we all have another 100 years of raising our arms aloft in exuberant joy
at the magnificence of this place, and may partnerships like the LeConte Memorial
Lodge be continued for future generations of Yosemite visitors.
Return to Rededication Ceremony
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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