The First Accommodations

Accommodating early visitors to Yosemite was a necessity given the length of the mountainous trip required to get to the valley. The photos below give you a sense of the evolution that took place from Hutchings Hotel (originally the Upper Hotel) beginning in 1856 to the Sentinel Hotel, built in 1876, to Camp Curry which first opened in 1899.


Click on thumbnail images to enlarge

To Start You Thinking -

1) Hutchings House was built on the bank of the Merced River in 1858 with views of Yosemite Falls on one side and Royal Arches on the other - both spectacular. However, the accommodations inside were not so spectacular. Hutchings described the hotel's early days in this way:

"[The hotel] consisted of a two-story frame building, sixty by twenty feet, having two rooms, an upper and a lower. Its doors and windows were made of cotton cloth. Verily, a primitive beginning for novices in hotel keeping. When our first guests arrived (and their arrival caused quite a flutter in the household), the ladies were domiciled upstairs, and the gentlemen down."1

Describe the construction of the building you see in the photo above and what this type of construction might have meant for the guests inside.

2) Based on the Thomas Hill painting of the Sentinel Hotel describe the type of visitor to Yosemite who might have stayed at the hotel in the late 1800's.

3) Camp Curry, a collection of seven tents staffed with a cook and student labor, was opened in 1899 by David and Jeannie Curry. Thier goal was to provide visitors to Yosemite with a family camping experience - something different than the valley's hotels provided. Based on the photo describe as much as you can about the experience the Curry's offered their guests.

1J. M. Hutchings, In the Heart of the Sierras, (Oakland, California: Pacific Press Publishing House, 1888)

images from Hutchings' Hotel, Yo-Semite Valley. [Yosemite] as found in The Lawrence & Houseworth Database, The Society of California Pioneers, #1337. " Sentinel Hotel, Yosemite, circa 1890" as found in Calisphere, and "Camp Curry", courtesy of the Yosemite Museum, National Park Service.

Last modified in February, 2011 by Rick Thomas