Because Edward Taylor Parsons had been active in outings clubs in the Pacific Northwest, he had first-hand experience with mountain outings before the Sierra Club had conducted any. When he learned about the Sierra Club after settling in San Francisco about 1900, he told William Colby about the outings conducted by Oregon's Mazamas.
Colby was impressed, and proposed to the board that the Sierra Club should also conduct outings. Parsons subsequently assisted William Colby in establishing the Sierra Club's outings program, the first one being in 1901.
Born in 1861, Parsons received a degree from the University of Rochester in 1886, and became one of the first salesmen for the Sherwin-Williams Company. Parsons was an active mountaineer and conservationist, also, and wrote about his experiences, illustrating many of his articles with his photographs.
He married another active and remarkable Sierra Club member, Marion Randall Parsons, in 1907, who he had met on the 1903 Sierra Club outing.
At the time of his death in 1914 he was a long time member of the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club, and had served along with William Colby and Joseph LeConte on the Outings Committee, and also chaired the LeConte Memorial Lodge Committee beginning in 1904. His wife, Marion, was elected to take his place and served as the club's first woman board member for twenty-two years, until 1938.
After his death, the Sierra Club organized a fund-raising campaign, and purchased some property at Soda Springs in Tuolumne Meadows. The Club's primary purpose was to preserve the landscape from domestic livestock and such, but it also built a small lodge named for Parsons. In later years, the Club sold its property to the National Park Service for inclusion in Yosemite National Park, but Parsons Lodge still stands as a historical monument to this Sierra Club leader.
Photo courtesy Sierra Club Archives/Colby Library. All rights reserved.