The Stoneman House,

as seen through the Mariposa Gazette -  part three
compiled by Tom Bruce Philips

April 28th, 1888

Some three weeks since, a fire occurred in the Government hotel, in the Yosemite Valley, which came very near being disastrous. The fire broke out in one of the sleeping rooms up stairs, and was making rapid progress when discovered. By hard work, on the part of Mr. J. J. Cook the proprietor, the fire was extinguished, and the hotel was saved. It was a narrow escape and a warning for the future.


The Heating Apparatus of the Stoneman House to Be Improved.

A special meeting of the Yosemite Valley Commissioners was held yesterday afternoon in the office of Frank M. Pixley, the Secretary of the commission. The object of the meeting was to consider the best means for improving the heating apparatus of the Stoneman House, the hotel in the valley owned by the State. There were present: Thomas P Madden, E. W. Chapman, J. G. Estland, J. W. O'Brien, I. W. Taber, and Frank M. Pikley.

A communication from George Nagle, the contractor, was read, in which he estimated the cost of replacing the defective flues in the Stoneman House and restoring the building generally at $6,800. This sum was considered too high by the commissioners, and after discussing the subject for some time, they came to the conclusion that if the flues were not torn down, as Mr. Nagle suggested, the only feasible was of warming the house would be by hot air of steam heaters.

John M. Irish, E. W. Chapman and Frank M. Pixley were appointed an Executive Committee to obtain further information regarding the proposed improvements, the following instructions being given them:

"The Executive Committee are requested to obtain estimates of the cost of warming the Stoneman House by steam or hot air in place of the present method. If upon examination the cost of such change is, in their judgment, reasonable and ensures to safety, the Executive Committee are hereby instructed to make the changes from open fires to steam or hot air furnaces."

October 15th, 1889


A meeting of the executive committee of the Yosemite Commission was held yesterday to consider bids for putting heating apparatus in the Stoneman House. The Commission requested proposal for heating apparatus in the Stoneman House. The Commission requested proposals for heating by hot air, steam and hot water. Bids were received from Anderson & Fallon, W. W. Montague & Co., George H. Tay & Co., and C. D. Harvey. After much discussion and consideration the bid of C. D. Harvey to put in hot water apparatus for $2,000 was accepted. In addition to the executive committee several other members of the Commission were present.--S. F. Alta.

September 21st, 1889


The Stoneman House To Be Closed--Mariposa Big Trees.

The very dangerous condition of the Stoneman House, in the Yosemite Valley, has already been alluded to in the Alta. It now appears that the statements then made were in no wise exaggerated. J. J. Cook, the lessee of the hotel, was in town yesterday for the purpose of obtaining permission from the Commission to close up the hotel until repairs are made which will render the building safe from fire. The weather in the valley if now somewhat cool, necessitating heating the guests' apartments and thereby imperiling the hotel. The lessee is in danger of having his insurance canceled, hence his anxiety to close the house for awhile. It is understood that the Commissioners will grant Mr. Cook's request, providing the Barnard House can accommodate the tourists who would otherwise put up at the Stoneman House. A meeting of the Commissioners will be held in a few days to decide the matter.

Mr. Washburn, Superintendent of the Mariposa Big Tree Grove, is now in town. He said, yesterday, that very satisfactory progress was being made in cleaning up the grove. That there has been no fires of any consequence since 1864 in the grove is but little short of a miracle. The debris of leaves, branches, cones, and the like around the big trees is in many instances more that four or five feet thick. This burns like peat, and in a dry season like the present becomes very inflammable. The work of clearing this accumulation from the big trees, the firs and the sugar pines is so nearly completed that in another week everything will be in readiness to burn up the rubbish. Mr. Washburn says that if prior to the cleaning up a fire had gained headway in the grove, it would have been impossible to save the big trees themselves. And thus would have perished one of the marvelous wonders of the American continent.--Alta.

October 26th, 1889


Mariposa County Supervisors to Build a Free Road.

J. J. Cook, lessee of the Stoneman House, in the Yosemite Valley, has just returned to this city. When he left the Valley there was snow on the peaks, but none the floor of the Valley. The falls have started up, and as the dust is thoroughly laid, the trip to Yosemite can be made now with unusual comfort.

The Board of Supervisors of Mariposa county has advertised for bid for the construction of a new road to Yosemite Valley, which will be the first free road into that wonderland. The chief advantage of the new route is that is can be traveled all winter. The next point in its favor will be found in it easy grades, which will be the lightest of any mountain road of its length in the State, as most of it is under two degrees.--S. F. Alta

Improvements at Wawona.

Big Tree Station, or Wawona as it is now called, is being converted into a modern garden of Eden and many tourist, after visiting Yosemite Valley, return there and spend several weeks enjoying the salubrious climate for which it is justly becoming noted. A fountain has been built there, grassy lawns surround the hotel and the natural beauty of the place has in nowise been impaired by any improvements that have been made. Washburn Brothers recently opened a spring at a point above the Brindleson cabin, three quarters of a mile from the hotel, and will pipe the water down to a tank east of the house. The pressure will throw a stream forty feet above the roof of the hotel. The water is excellent and the supply sufficient for all domestic purposes.--Madera Mercury

May 31st, 1890

An Accident

On Tuesday last the stage from the Stoneman House, in passing along the road toward J. K. Barnard's place had to traverse some extent of road that was submerged by the overflowed waters of the Merced river. J. F. Stevens was driving the stage in the lead, followed by one driven by Will Turner Jr. The passengers, as is customary, since the waters became so high, left both stages and walked around keeping on the banks above the water. Mr. Stevens reached the opposite shore in safety and called to Turner to drive more to the left and finally persuaded him to swing the team so far in the direction of the stone wall which sustained the road grade on the lower side, at the point he was endeavoring to pass, that the leaders plunging over the wall into deep water, dragged the other horses and stage after them. Turner held to the lines, although the stage upset and threw him into the water. The team swam to shore drawing the stage and driver after them, and were stopped, the stage righted up, and upon learning that no serious damage was done, the passengers and driver regained their seats and everyone seemed thankful that the accident terminated with no more serious injury to the driver, team or stage than a through drenching.

July 21st, 1890

Camp Arthur, in Yosemite will be an attractive place for the next few weeks, judging from the merry, fine looking party which passed through our village last Sunday. Six stages filled with ladies and gentlemen, with two large supply wagons and two Chinese cooks, completed the caravansary. There were forty persons in the party and all hailed from San Francisco, and New Hope, Cal., and looked like they were bent on having a tip-top time. We trust their expectation may be fully realized.

October 24th 1891


The travel still keeps brisk in Yosemite

The autumn coloring of the Valley is exquisite especially near Pohono Bridge.

J. J. Cook, proprietor of the Stoneman returned to San Francisco last week, His son J. B. Cook has charge of the Stoneman.

George W, Kenny and family left of Oct. 19th for their home in Madera

Hon. Wm. F. Coffman leaves this week for Madera via Mariposa

W. McElroy and J. Lavin are doing excellent work in repairing the Stoneman.

Mr. Galan Clark the efficient guardian had quite a force of men at work clearing away the underbrush on the floor of the Valley.

The Yosemite School taught by Miss Annie L. Kerrins closed Oct. 16th. An entertainment was held of Friday evening at the guardian’s office. The programme consisted of songs, recitations, drills, dialogues, tableaux, and concluded with a laughable farce. "The Tambourine Drill," by Tissie and Guy Barnard, Walter, Oniska, Charley and Blanche Kenny, Maggie McCarty and Allen Keys was heartily applauded. "The Wand Drill," was also a pleasant feature. The following participated: Lawrence and Daisy Degnan, Mamie, John and Willie McCarty, Charlie Alice and May Kenney. The recitation "How Kate Shelly crossed the bridge," by Oniska Kenney. "Bill Mason’s bride," by Tissie Barnard, and "How Jimmie tended the baby," by Charley Kenney were exceedingly well rendered. Blanche, Alice and May Kenney, Lawarence and Daisy Degnan, Emmet and Hatte McCarthy recited very nicely Walter Kenney, Allen Keys and guy Barnard. The closing tableau "The Gates Ajar" showed to great advantage Yosemite’s pretty school girls.


July 22nd, 1893


The Yosemite Valley Commission has met in annual session, elected its officers for a term of a year and rendered a report containing information of interest and value. Governor Markham, by virtue of his office, is president of the board. The remaining officers were chosen as follows: Vice-president, George B. Sperry, of Stockton; secretary and treasurer, John P. Irish; executive committee, John F. Kidder of Grass Valley, H. K. Field of Alameda and John P. Irish, G. Clarke was appointed guardian and granted two months leave of absence to revisit the White mountains and certain Federal park reservations.

The commission decided to repair and fit the Yosemite Valley Hotel for the next season, beginning in April. This place will be run on the European plan with rooms at $1 a day. Under the new arrangement people will be able to live at the hotel for $2 a day. The Stoneman House is still in operation in the valley on the American plan.

The executive committee discussed at some length the question of a recession of the grant to the Federal Government and arrived at the conclusion that such a step would be of very great detriment to the State. In its opinion the State will never consent to Federal control of the reservation after it has made the valley accessible to everybody by an expenditure of a large sum of money. In the first place the State would ask to be reimbursed for the amount it has spent. In the second place it would object, as Federal control, under conditions existing in the Yosemite valley, will mean neglect, as provision for repairing roads must be made every year, and Congress sometimes overlooks the necessary appropriations.

The executive committee has examined the conditions of the Yellowstone Park and the Hot Springs reservation and other like property. It finds that Federal control is not what it always should be, and in the Yosemite would result in serious damage. Every year many of the roads and trails must be practically rebuilt, as in winter the valley is the cradle of mountain storms, which obliterate the work of months. The building of trails is a labor which must be done every year without fail or nature will close the valley. It is consequently imperative that the State must retain control. The beautiful valley is now in a condition which makes it readily accessible to all. After years of labor and expenditure of about $400,000 the valley is open from one end to the other. Communication with the Mariposa big tree grove has been made, and the commission expects by the close of the season to have all roads competed and the grove protected from fire. When in 1866 the State became trustee of the valley and grove the valley was inaccessible except on horseback or on foot. There were no wagon roads within sixty miles. Now there are three good roads leading to the limits of the grant and within those limits they are free to the public. There are twenty miles of carriage roads and twenty-four miles of saddle trails. Nearly every point of advantage has been made accessible. Roads, trails, bridges and hotels have been built, squatter titles have been extinguished, all legal clouds have been removed and valuable property improved and maintained. -Chronicle

March 24th, 1894

Opening the Roads

A.H. Washburn sent a force of ten men and sixty-five horses to the Yosemite

Valley to open up the roads leading to the valley. It is expected that the roads will be open by the 20th of this month. George Kenney will go to the Valley about the first of April to look after the comfort of the tourist who will flock to that Eden this summer. —Madera Mercury

June 2nd, 1894

The Yosemite Commissioners will meet at the Stoneman House next Wednesday for their semi annual session. Governor Markham passed through Merced this week on his way to the valley.