Joseph Nisbet LeConte (known as "Little Joe") was the son of Professor Joseph LeConte, the University of California geology professor who had confirmed John Muir's glacial theory of the origin of Yosemite Valley. "Professor Joe," the father, was, like his son, a charter member of the Sierra Club.
"Little Joe" LeConte served the Club for fifty years, beginning as a director of the Sierra Club from from 1898 to 1940. He was the Club's second President, serving after John Muir and before William E. Colby, for the years 1915 - 1917.
He served for many years in various other capacities of the Club, including Vice-Presidnet, Secretary, Treasurer, Chair of the Outings Committee, and as a member of the LeConte Memorial Lodge Committee. In 1931, he was made an honorary president, which he held until his death in 1950.
Joseph N. LeConte, like his father, loved Yosemite, not just the Valley itself, but the whole extent of it. His photographs of Hetch Hetchy Valley before the dam remain an inspiration.
Joseph N. LeConte made many mountaineering trips in the Sierra beginning in 1887. He made a series of triangulations of major peaks from Mt. Ritter to Mt. Whitney to facilitate accurate map-making. He recounted numerous Sierra Club outings in the Sierra Club Bulletin, both in writing and in some of the finest early photographs available.
"Little Joe" was a professor of mechanical and hydraulic engineering.at the University of California, Berkeley.
See examples of LeConte's photographs, or his 1896 Sierra map.
Photo courtesy Sierra Club Archives/Colby Library. All rights reserved.