Johnson-R1-017-7_2

Celebrating Yosemite Part 7 – The First Ascent of El Capitan and the Question of Appropriate Recreation

At 6:00 a.m. on November 12, 1958, after climbing through the night, Warren Harding, Wayne Merry, and George Whitmore pulled themselves over the edge of El Capitan, completing a 45-day siege of the granite wall overlooking the Yosemite Valley. The highly publicized first ascent of the three-thousand-foot “Nose” provided the first real challenge to the…

2014 Book Awards

Western Historians Among Notable Book Winners

Over the past couple months, a number of books by western historians have won several prestigious awards. Spanning from the Colonial Era and Early Republic through the opening decade of the 21st century, the books demonstrate a breathtaking depth of topics covered by some of the profession’s best talents. Alan Taylor won his second Pulitzer Prize…

BLM_Trespass_Cattle_Closure_Map_04_11_2014

Understanding Cliven Bundy

by Leisl Carr Childers The last two weeks’ worth of national news has chronicled a surreal drama acted out in the Nevada desert. Cliven Bundy, a long-time rancher and the Bureau of Land Management, became embroiled in an armed standoff over the removal of the rancher’s cattle, which Bundy forfeited after twenty years worth of…

Johnson-R1-017-7_2

Celebrating Yosemite Part 4 – Hetch Hetchy: The Best and Highest Use?

There are few subjects in Yosemite’s history as controversial as the damming of the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Driven by San Francisco’s need for a reliable water source following the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires that razed the city to the ground, historians often portray the story of Hetch Hetchy as a battle between utilitarian conservationists epitomized by the…

Pete_Seeger-1979

Pete Seeger and the West

by Peter Gough Pete Seeger called me on the telephone one Sunday morning.  “Peter,” he said, “this is Pete Seeger.  You have some questions about my father?” I had been working on a Ph.D. dissertation about the Federal Music Project in the West during the 1930s, of which Pete’s father Charles Seeger had been the…