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Le Conte Memorial Lodge by Steven Finacom
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LeConte Memorial Lodge 1904-2004

Michael Reynolds, National Park Service planning manager for Yosemite National ParkYosemite National Park and LeConte Memorial Lodge

Michael Reynolds
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 region.

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.

Thank you.

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Return to Rededication Ceremony

Rededication Photos

Re-Dedication of LeConte Memorial Lodge
(Photo Album)

Michael Reynolds, National Park Service, Yosemite National Park
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.

Would you like to hear news about the LeConte Memorial Lodge? Sign up for our LeConte Lodge Forum e-mail list.

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:

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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