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Muir Lodge

Muir Lodge Bunting Angeles Chapter Sierra Club

Muir Lodge
1913 - 1938

One of the first projects of the new Southern California Section of the Sierra Club was the construction of a mountain lodge in Big Santa Anita Canyon above Sierra Madre. It was named after John Muir, and although Muir did not live to see the lodge, he did contribute $50 towards its construction. For 25 years this "mountain home of the Sierra Club" was a center of chapter activities, ranging from hikes to parties of various sorts. Eventually a women's screened-in sleeping area was erected just upstream of the main building, and a corresponding men's annex sprouted up on the downstream side. A roofed outdoor kitchen area extended onto the rear porch.

As these photographs show, life was blissful at Muir Lodge. You could take a five-minute stroll upstream to beautiful Sturtevant Falls (pictured at the left). Or sit on a rocking chair in the clearing before the entrance and listen to the gently babbling brook. Unfortunately, this normally peaceful stream went on a rampage in March of 1938, and the same storm that destroyed many resorts in the local mountains also ravaged Muir Lodge. By this time, the club's larger Harwood Lodge facility co-opted the desire to reconstruct Muir Lodge and the site was abandoned. What survives today? Not a trace of the building, nor even any photographs of the women's sleeping area or the rear porch and kitchen. However, the sequoia tree shown being planted at the dedication ceremony is still there, now grown to over 50 feet.

The following images give us a hint of what life was like at old Muir Lodge. Enjoy

Bob Cates - Chair, Angeles Chapter History Committee

Dedication

Muir Lodge decked out in bunting for dedication ceremonies on October 5, 1913. Note sapling sequoia tree planted near corner of building. This tree is all that remains of Muir Lodge today. -Hiram E. Bailey Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Dedication Site

Dedication of site for Muir Lodge, autumn 1912. The man holding the trowel at the cairn is Chapter Chair Charles Fox. Phil Bernays is standing holding hat second from right. -Phil Bernays Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

 

Pack Train

Dedication of site for Muir Lodge, autumn 1912. The man holding the trowel at the cairn is Chapter Chair Charles Fox. Phil Bernays is standing holding hat second from right. -Phil Bernays Collection,  Angeles Chapter Archives.

Mule Train

Pack train hauling building materials for construction of Muir Lodge during summer of 1913. -Angeles Chapter Archives

Site Clearing

Clearing the site of Muir Lodge, Jan. 12, 1913. -Hiram E. Bailey Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Chester Versteeg

Chester Versteeg (with saw) working on Muir Lodge, Fall 1912. Versteeg was said to have literally worked 40 days and 40 nights on the construction of Muir Lodge. -Phil Bernays Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Mixing Cement

Muir Lodge under construction. Man pushing wheelbarrow is Phil Bernays. Standing next to him in dark clothing is Chester Versteeg. The building's architect, Lester Moore, is dressed formally with a tie for mixing cement, while Phil Bernays' younger brother holds the water bucket. -Phil Bernays Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Lunch

Group of construction workers having lunch. Phil Bernays presides at the head of the table. Sitting on near side, left to right, are Charles Fox (mustache), Chester Versteeg (close-cropped hair), unidentified woman. Sitting on far side, left to right, are Lester Moore (Muir Lodge architect, wearing tie), a man identified as Moore's brother-in-law, Ralph Bernays (Phil's younger brother), and an unidentified hired carpenter. -Photo by E.B. Gray, Phil Bernays Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Lodge Dedication

Muir Lodge Dedication, October 4, 1913. Judge Claire Tappaan presiding (large man on right, wearing tie and holding large stick). Sequoia tree sapling has been planted in foreground as part of the ceremony. This tree is still growing on the site. -William C. Barry Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Interior View

Muir Lodge, interior view. Muir Lodge was built in the Craftsman Style prevalent at the time, characterized by use and exposure of natural building materials, as typified by the boulders forming the fireplace and the exposed roof beams. Simple lines in architecture and furniture were also part of the Craftsman movement. Part of the lodge's operating funds were derived from the rental of lockers, one of which can be seen beneath the bench on the left. -Angeles Chapter Archives

Muir Memorial

The most somber moment ever commemorated at Muir Lodge came as this group gathered on December 26, 1914, to hold a memorial service for John Muir, who had passed away 2 days before. -Hiram E. Bailey Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Picnic

Group having picnic beside entry path. Note plaque to right of doorway. Photo c 1920. -Phil Bernays Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Loungers

Undated photo c. 1920, judging by size of sequoia. Bill Barry (far right) and his wife (in middie-blouse, far left) lounging with friends in front of Muir Lodge. -William C. Barry Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Front Porch

The front yard of Muir Lodge, c. 1920. Bill Barry stands next to his wife (wearing middie-blouse). -William C. Barry Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Social Gathering

Muir Lodge social gathering, October 7, 1923. -Edgar Cook Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Dinner Bulletins

Sierra Club Dinner Bulletins, June-July 1937. Notice of South Seas Island Party to be held at Muir Lodge on 5/22/37. -Edgar Cook Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Party

South Seas Island Party at Muir Lodge, May 22, 1937. Seated figures, l to r: S. Jones (Stanley?), L. Warner, Norman McKee, and Howard Gates. Man standing at far left identified as Dick MacBird. -Edgar Cook Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Mens Annex

Men's Annex, Muir Lodge, Oct. 4, 1917. After Muir Lodge was destroyed by flood in 1938, this was bought by Caroline Tracy and other Sierrans. -Hiram E. Bailey Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Lodge Annex

Men's Annex in foreground, Muir Lodge in background, 1917. -William C. Barry Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Inspection Trip

Chapter founder Phil Bernays has every right to look glum upon this inspection trip to Muir Lodge on April 24, 1938. -Photo by Edgar Cook, William C. Barry Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Flood Damage

One of the last conclaves of Sierrans to gather beneath the roof of Muir Lodge, April 24, 1938. Smoke issues from the chimney. The flood of March 1-2 took out the wall and eroded a portion of the floor as well. -Photo by Edgar Cook, William C. Barry Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Flood Damage

Flood damage shown on a sunny day, probably March or April, 1938. -Hiram E. Bailey Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Flood damage

Enhanced view of previous photo to show interior. -Hiram E. Bailey Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Flood damage

Front view of Muir Lodge shortly after the great flood of March 1-2, 1938. -William C. Barry Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives

Lodge PlaqueBob Cates standing in front of the dedication sequoia tree and displaying the Muir Lodge plaque at the site of Muir Lodge, Big Santa Anita Canyon, March 2002. -Photo by Erica Balsam, Bob & Maureen Cates Collection, Angeles Chapter Archives