Eagle Rock Found!
by Gerald F. Wieczorek
As a member of the U.S. Geological Survey who has studied rock falls in
Yosemite Valley since 1980, I have spent considerable effort locating the
site of John Muir's Eagle Rock Avalanche. A previous (1991) description by
Ron Limbaugh reprinted from the John Muir Newsletter, , Vol. 1, No. 4, Fall
1991) of my early work was printed in the John Muir Newsletter, under the title, "John Muir and the 1872 Earthquake: Where was Eagle Rock?" by Ron Limbaugh (1991).
Since 1991, I have determined and published (Wieczorek et al., 1992)
the answer to this
dilemma of finding the location of John Muir's 1872 Eagle Rock Avalanche.
The following is copied from p. 24 of this cited reference:
"This dilemma of the location of Eagle Rock was resolved by examining
unpublished notes, letters, and journal articles from the archival
mircrofilm collection of Muir's writings. In an unpublished journal
description, Muir included additional details that he later edited and
omitted parts of for publication. In the following citation, Muir crossed
out the words in parentheses and added words shown in brackets for context:
"Yesterday (March 26) at half past 2, AM I was suddenly awakened out
of a sound sleep by the movements of my Cabin, back of Blacks Hotel."
"Turning in the direction of the huge uproar I saw (that) the Eagle
Rock [was] falling. (This rock) [It] was 1500-ft-high + (was) capped by a
large stone somewhat like an eagle with wings outspread ready to take
[for] flight. It did take flight (last) [that] night."
"A second [severe] grand shock occurred about half past 3 o'clock
which caused a second rock avalanche in the same (direction) place as the
first, that is, back of the Hutchings hotel."
Reprinted from the John Muir Papers, Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Libraries, Copyright 1984 Muir Hanna Trust and published with permission.
The Hutchings' Hotel (Hutchings' House or Upper Hotel) that Muir refers to
was located at the site of Old Yosemite Village, which was between the
present Chapel and Sentinel Bridge. In the spring of 1872 Muir was staying
in a cabin behind Black's Hotel (located just southwest of BM-3965 and east
of "Footbridge" on pl. 1). This location matches the description of a
"half mile" or 0.8 km from the Hutchings' Hotel on the south side of the
valley. the site of the release point of the rock fall would have been to
the north of Union Point or Moran Point, and the talus deposit would be
that behind the site of Old Yosemite Village.
If you have any additonal questions on this subject, I can be contacted by
email or by telephone at 703-648-6788.
Wieczorek, G.F., Snyder, J.B., Alger, C.S., and Isaacson, K.A., 1992, Rock
falls in Yosemite Valley, California: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File
Report 92-387, 38 p., 2 appendixes, 4 plates, 1 disk.
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Gerald F. Wieczorek
U.S. Geological Survey
National Center, MS 926A
Reston, VA 20192
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