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Joseph LeConte

1823-1901

Joseph LeConte Photograph - 1896
  • Geologist, naturalist, and university professor.
  • With his brother John, took part in organizing the University of California.
  • Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1874.
  • His son, Joseph N. LeConte, was the photographer of many Sierra Club outings, a trailblazer and map-maker for what became the John Muir Trail.
  • John Muir and LeConte were life-long friends. Joseph LeConte was one of the first professional geologists to support Muir's theory of the glacial origin of Yosemite Valley.
  • Both LeConte's - father and son - have been remembered with numerous names in the Sierra Nevada. Joseph LeConte the elder is memorialized in the mountains with LeConte Cascade, "the most majestic cascade” in the Tuolumne River canyon (named in1894), and also by Mount LeConte, a peak over 13,900 feet in the Mount Whitney region, named in 1895.
  • The Yosemite Conservation Heritage Center - A 100+ year-old National Historic Landmark in Yosemite National Park originally dedicated to Joseph LeConte, who died in the Valley in 1901 at the age of 76 on the eve of the Club's first High Trip. When LeConte's racial theories came to light in 2015, the Sierra Club Board of Directors decided that this public education center, originally named in honor of a man who promoted theories about the inferiority of nonwhite races was counter both to the Sierra Club's values and to the need to promote inclusivity in our national parks. For that reason, the Sierra Club requested that the National Park Service rename the lodge, which is now called the "Yosemite Conservation Heritage Center."

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