News and Information
for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam

It’s the hottest…
No, the wettest…

July weather fickle
Storms cause high-country havoc

EnlargeStorm window: On Tuesday evening, thunderheads over Blossom Peak created eerie lightscapes at dusk and some volatile weather with visible lightning strikes and resonant thunder.
  In the News - Friday, August 1, 2003

July weather fickle

Close encounters


Drinking and driving causes rollover

Boy molested in Sequoia


New lumber and building supply store

Resident turns 103

Pools pose hazards for kids

Park history 


It’s the hottest…
No, the wettest…

July weather fickle

After two weeks of triple-digit temperatures, high humidity, and a week of intermittent, yet almost daily thunderstorms, forecasters are predicting that relief is on the way. Daytime highs should return to the 90s as the on-again, off-again moisture begins to dissipate.

“What has been causing the flow of monsoonal moisture from the south is a ridge of high pressure that has been stalled out in the Four Corners area,” according to one Hanford-based weather forecaster.

Forecasters are saying that the strong ridge is breaking up and Kaweah Country should return to more seasonal temperatures, in the mid-90s, and with more typically comfortable levels of humidity. Temperatures will actually be below normal until at least Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Measurable precipitation was recorded in Three Rivers on July 19, 29, 30, and 31. During some of the isolated thunderstorms, as much as a quarter of an inch of rainfall was recorded in just a few minutes.

It’s certainly not unusual for Three Rivers to experience consecutive weeks with triple-digit high temperatures or a day or two of thunderstorms. What is unusual, forecasters say, is that this weather pattern is more typical for August than July.

Storms cause high-country havoc

What has been occurring in Three Rivers is just a raindrop in the bucket compared to what has been happening in the higher elevations of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Park Service personnel have been busy throughout the period dealing with lightning-caused fires, rock slides, downed trees, power outages, and violent storm cells that have dropped two inches or more of rainfall during isolated cloudbursts.

Since Thursday, July 17, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon region has received hundreds of lightning strikes causing more than a dozen fires that have required suppression or monitoring. In a period of 48 hours, from July 29 to 31, 10 new fires were discovered, caused by hundreds more lightning strikes.

On Friday, July 25, a lightning-caused fire was discovered burning on a ridge between Coffeepot Canyon and Eden Creek in the East Fork canyon of the Kaweah River at about 5,200 feet elevation. The remote 15-acre Coffeepot Fire was contained using air tankers, helicopters, and specialized handcrews.

Two fires were suppressed in Sequoia on Saturday, July 19; the Silliman Fire (under an acre), which was human-caused, and the Wolverton Fire, a lightning-caused fire east of the Lodgepole Market. Two other lightning-caused fires, discovered this week, are also being suppressed by fire crews — the Sentinel Fire near Cedar Grove (Kings Canyon NP) and the Watchtower Fire, located above and visible from Lodgepole Campground (Sequoia NP).

Lightning-caused fires, all less than one acre in size, that are currently being managed as “fire-use projects” to improve forest conditions are:

Barton Fire— West side of Barton Peak near Roaring River Ranger Station (KCNP).

Baxter Fire— Near Baxter Meadow along the John Muir Trail (KCNP).

Bighorn Fire— Bighorn Plateau east of Kern Canyon (SNP).

Clover Fire— North of Wuksachi Village near Cahoon Meadow (SNP).

East Clover Fire— Along the Twin Lakes trail north of Wuksachi Village (SNP).

Copper Fire— In the Copper Creek drainage (KCNP).

Deadman Fire— On a ridge in Deadman Canyon south of Roaring River Ranger Station (KCNP).

Ferguson Fire— Southwest of the Roaring River Ranger Station (KCNP).

Giant Fire— In Giant Forest (SNP).

Leon Fire— East of Castle Rocks (SNP).

Palmer Fire— On the northwest side of Palmer Peak above Avalanche Pass (KCNP).

White Chief Fire— In the East Fork drainage of the Kaweah above Mineral King (SNP).

Williams Fire— Near Comanche Meadow west of Roaring River Ranger Station (KCNP).




Close encounters of the critter kind

Blame it on the weird weather or the fact that more folks are living where just wildlife roamed before. Whatever the reason, nearly everyone in Three Rivers has a tale or two to report this summer season about critters on the rampage.

From lions and bears and deer and rattlers, Kaweah Country critters are interacting with locals at what is, for some residents, alarming and unprecedented rates. The incidents began in earnest last month when a South Fork resident called to report a mountain lion prowling the South Fork area in the vicinity of Heidi Road.

“We never really got a good look at the big cat, but it was obvious it was a mountain lion,” reported the caller. “It killed one of our goats that weighed 70 pounds.”

In early July, attention seemed to focus on bear break-ins that were occurring in both the South and North Fork areas of Three Rivers. In one of the North Fork encounters, an absentee owner returned home only to find they had to run off a large black bear that was occupying their vacant house.

A South Fork story of multiple encounters with a smaller black bear is even more bizarre.

“This particular bear first came around some time ago, but he’s been back several times recently,” said Darryl Klocke, South Fork resident.

Klocke said that this marauding bear seems to return every couple of weeks. The main attraction, he said, is the chicken coop.

“That bear has killed more than a dozen chickens, so we decided just to let the last three roam free,” Klocke said. “Then just the other night, a raccoon got another one.”

Klocke said that his calls to California Department of Fish and Game for assistance have been largely ignored.

“We’ve lived in Three Rivers for 23 years,” Klocke said, “and this year is the first time we’ve ever had a bear problem.”

As of this week, Klocke said he was expecting the bear’s next visit.

“Last time, I poked him with pruning shears to get him to leave,” Klocke said. “It’s scary how unafraid of people that this bear has become.”

Rachel Mazur, wildlife biologist and bear technician at Sequoia National Park, said that this has been a relatively quiet year for bear activity in the local national parks. But that’s not the case in Three Rivers.

“The bear problem is only going to get worse in Three Rivers,” Mazur said. “We need to persuade the disposal company to bear-proof the garbage cans that are placed along area roads and streets.”

In the last two years, Three Rivers Disposal implemented an automated roadside pickup system that works well in urban neighborhoods. But in foothill communities like Three Rivers, the familiar brown containers are an easy mark for foraging wildlife and dogs.

Klocke said some residents leave their cans at the end of the driveway all the time so it’s become a nightly problem. Disposal company employees usually end up cleaning up the mess caused when the cans are toppled.

“Whether we do it voluntarily as a community or get the company to do it, bear-proof cans are the only way we are going to solve an increasing bear problem,” Mazur said.

Compounding human-versus-animal encounters is that traditional wildlife corridors now include busy roads or fences, making it difficult for critters to get to the river. Several deer are killed each season trying to cross Sierra Drive from the South Fork Fire Station to the Indian Restaurant, and this year is no exception.

The ever-present rattlesnake has also reared its diamond-shaped head again this summer. A couple of weeks ago, Lily Abourezk, a five-year-old South Fork resident, was bitten on the back of the leg when she was about to enter a wading pool in her yard.

The young victim was rushed to Kaweah Delta Hospital, then transferred to Children’s Hospital Central California. Her great-grandmother, Lois Abourezk, reports she is home now and making a good recovery though her leg is still bruised from her brush with the poisonous viper.

An unconfirmed report was received Wednesday, July 30, that a Three Rivers man was bitten on the hand that day by a rattler.





Una Stalcup,
founding member of Three Rivers Ambulance
1917 ~ 2003

Una V. Stalcup of Lemon Cove died Friday, July 25, 2003. She was 85.

Una was born Sept. 14, 1917, in Texas to Elmer and Zada Harris, She settled in Dinuba in 1937. She married Vondlee R. Stalcup there in 1940.

After their marriage, the couple moved to Three Rivers and resided here for more than three decades. Una owned a catering business in town and also worked many years for the Three Rivers Union School District as a cook and cafeteria manager.

Una was a founding member of the Three Rivers Volunteer Ambulance Service. In 1955 and 1974, the Three Rivers PTA presented her with its annual Honorary Service Award for her exemplary service and commitment to the community and the children of Three Rivers.

Una served as Three Rivers PTA president in 1957-58. She was also involved in the Pink Lady Thrift Shop in Exeter and Bible study and a member of the Lemon Cove Woman’s Club and the First Presbyterian Church of Lemon Cove.

Una was preceded in death by her husband, Vondlee, on March 25, 1982; her daughter, Darline Stalcup; and brother John Harris.

She is survived by her sons, John Stalcup of Lemon Cove and Michael Stalcup of Concord; a brother, Roy Harris of Napa; and three grandchildren.

A graveside service was held Wednesday, July 30, at Exeter District Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made in Una’s name to the First Presbyterian Church of Lemon Cove, P.O. Box 44376, Lemon Cove, CA 93244.




Drinking and driving causes rollover

On Monday, July 21, at 7:15 p.m., Chad Jenkins was driving a 1981 Mercedes Benz westbound on Hwy. 198 near the Mineral King Road when he lost control of the vehicle, causing it to leave the roadway and roll over. Jenkins, 28, of Visalia was transported to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia where he was treated and subsequently released.

Jenkins was charged with driving under the influence (DUI).

According to information gathered at the scene by California Highway Patrol officer Greg Fox, Jenkins had been drinking at a Three Rivers establishment prior to getting behind the wheel.




Boy molested in Sequoia

On Sunday, July 6, a seven-year-old boy reported that a male stranger molested him on a trail near the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park. The boy immediately reported the incident to his family.

Soon after they began searching the area, the boy was able to point out his assailant to his family. Family members detained the man and reported the incident to park fire personnel in the area.

The suspect is a 66-year-old man who recently arrived in the U.S. from the Philippines. A continuing investigation is being conducted by the National Park Service and FBI.




     New lumber and building supply store opens

EnlargeLumber men: Jerry Kramlich (left) and Jeff Holmes this week opened High Sierra Lumber & Supply Company in the old Orange Belt Supply Company building just west of Woodlake.

Six months after he left Woodlake, Jeff Holmes is back in town.

Jeff, along with Jerry Kramlich, is co-manager of the new High Sierra Lumber & Supply Company.

Jeff brings 23 years of experience, most of it from Visalia and Woodlake, to the new building supply company.

Jerry has more than 25 years of experience in the lumber industry, earned mainly from businesses in Exeter and Lindsay.

Occupying nearly three acres, High Sierra Lumber & Supply is located on Ave. 344 in the old Orange Belt Supply Company building, which has been renovated to include new lighting and air conditioning.

Jerry and Jeff continue their popular customer-service policies, such as cutting lumber to order, special ordering of stock, and offering free delivery for every purchase.

“We have five delivery trucks ready to go,” Jerry said. “No delivery is too small or too far.”

Officially open since Monday, July 28, the lumberyard has nevertheless been making deliveries for the past two weeks to customers who just couldn’t wait. The trucks have gone as far afield as Porterville, Lemoore, and Sequoia National Park.

High Sierra Building & Supply invites everyone to attend a grand opening celebration, which will include a free lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Saturday, Aug. 30.




Woodlake resident turns 103

The oldest of four children, Jose Mauricio was born in Zacualco, Mexico, on July 19, 1900. The Wright brothers had yet to fly at Kitty Hawk (1903), the automobile wouldn’t be invented for another nine years, and Nikolai Romanov II was still czar of all the Russias.

Two weeks ago, Jose marked his 103rd birthday surrounded by his family and a smorgasbord of his favorite dishes.

The Mexican Revolution began when Jose was 10 years old. He remembers his uncles going off to battle. At times, the fighting caused houses and businesses to close, and even churches to cancel masses and baptisms.

Jose came to the U.S. in his 20s to lay rail lines in Chicago. The “L” system rode on his skill, and the first train that rolled into Washington, D.C., arrived on the very track that he helped build.

Jose returned to Mexico in 1927 to marry and raise a family.

Forty-eight years later, at age 75, Jose immigrated to the U.S. to be near his daughter’s family, the Urenas, in Woodlake.

Jose looks fondly on 62 descendents — six children, 12 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren, and 10 great-great-grandchildren — the youngest of whom joined her bis-bis-abuelo for a slice of vanilla cake on his birthday.




Pools pose hazards for kids

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not having a swimming pool if there are children younger than 5 in the household. But if you do, or visit someone who has a pool, the AAP has the following tips:

—Never leave children alone in or near the pool.

—Most children who drown in pools wander out of the house and fall in. Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all sides of the pool. It should completely separate the pool from the house and play areas. Use gates that self-close and self-latch, with latches higher than children can reach.

—A power safety cover adds to the protection of children but don’t use in place of a fence.

—Do not let children use air-filled swimming aids in place of approved life vests.

—Anyone watching young children around a pool should know CPR and stay within arm’s length of small children.

—Remove all toys from the pool after use so children aren’t tempted to reach for them.

—After the children are done swimming, secure the pool so they can’t get back to it.




Sequoia National Park history 
Charles Young and the road through Sequoia

by Jay O’Connell

PART I: The road leading to Sequoia

Col. Charles Young and the
Buffalo Soldiers


~ Saturday, August 23 ~
Special programs
and activities throughout
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks
Main events at
Giant Forest and Lodgepole

This is the first installment in a month-long series celebrating the centennial of the occupation of Captain (later Colonel) Charles Young and soldiers of the all-black troops of the 9th Cavalry in Sequoia National Park. During the summer of 1903, Capt. Young and his mounted cavalry troops were assigned to patrol and protect Sequoia National Park and the now-former General Grant National Park.

* * *

June 4, 1903— Troops I and M (colored) of the 9th U.S. Cavalry arrived in Visalia this morning en route to the Sequoia National Park. The two troops are under the command of Captain Charles Young… a colored man and the only officer in the United States Army of his color and rank. He is a graduate of West Point and is a man of brilliant parts. His career has been one of hard struggle against the prejudice of race. He has, however, risen above all these difficulties by force of character and inherent ability. —The Tulare County Times

* * *

Administering a national park seldom affords the opportunity for military heroism and public acclaim, but one cavalry officer who did just that deserves a noted place in history, not only for his one remarkable season as superintendent of Sequoia and General Grant national parks, but for an extraordinary military career that is all the more heroic considering the hardships he faced due to the color of his skin.

From the founding of Sequoia and General Grant in 1890 until 1914 when the first civilian superintendent was appointed, the national parks were administered by the United States military. For 23 summers, soldiers patrolled the parks, extinguishing fires and expelling trespassing stockmen and poachers.

Trailblazer: Colonel Charles Young. –photo courtesy
Ash Mountain museum archives

These first guardians of the park were U.S. Cavalry officers, most with the rank of captain, and few served more than one season protecting the ancient forest. Still fewer of these men are remembered by history.

Captain Charles Young, the African-American military superintendent who is credited with finishing the road to Sequoia’s Giant Forest, helped blaze the difficult trail toward racial equality and harmony for generations of men to come. But like that mountain road to Sequoia, there are still many steep and difficult sections for society to navigate.

* * *

Born in 1864 to former slaves, Young was the first African-American to graduate from an all-white high school in Ohio. After winning an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, in 1889, he became the third African-American to graduate from the distinguished institution.

As a second lieutenant, he served at Fort Robinson and Fort Duchesne before becoming military instructor at Wilberforce University. During the Spanish-American War, Young commanded the 9th Ohio Battalion of the National Guard.

Although they did not see service in Cuba, Young was assigned to the Philippines upon his return to the regular Army and commanded troops at Samar in numerous engagements against insurgents. It was there he received his promotion to captain.

* * *

In 1903, Charles Young, now stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco, could already boast of an accomplished military career. He did not stay long in San Francisco, however, as there was a need to be filled some 200 miles away in the Sierra Nevada mountains, in California’s first, and the nation’s second, national park.

Capt. Young was described in the Visalia Delta as “a man of medium build, very erect, well preserved and though he says he is 39 years old, he looks scarcely 25.”

Even though the cavalry officer assigned to Sequoia National Park in 1902 (Capt. Frank Arthur Barton) had earned high recommendations from Tulare County businessmen, who were by now very interested in seeing a road completed to Giant Forest as a way to promote tourism and boost the local economy, the pattern of a different military superintendent each season continued.

In May 1903, Captain Charles Young was appointed acting superintendent of Sequoia and General Grant national parks.

Young received orders to report to Sequoia and, on May 20, 1903, departed San Francisco with Troops I and M, 9th Cavalry, consisting of three officers and 93 enlisted men. After a two-week journey 200 miles southeastward through the heart of California’s fertile San Joaquin Valley, they arrived in Visalia, the county seat of Tulare County.

From there it was 30 miles due east, toward the Sierra Nevada mountains, to the foothill village of Kaweah near the park border.

Kaweah had been the site of an experimental cooperative colony that, in 1885, filed timber claims on land that was now part of Sequoia National Park. The utopian endeavor labored four years, building a road up to timbered lands they hoped to log, only to have their hopes dashed with the creation of Sequoia Park in 1890.

Their road into the forest, for which the colony never received any compensation, was the only passage into the park and efforts had been underway several seasons to extend it all the way to Giant Forest, where spectacular groves of the giant sequoias provided the heart of the park’s attraction to tourists and the very reason for its creation.
Upon his arrival in Kaweah (on the upper end of today’s North Fork Drive), Young recalled that “a general supply camp was established and maintained there throughout the year, as it is centrally located. The ground for this camp was kindly offered to the troops by Mr. Ralph Hopping.” Hopping had been a member of the Kaweah Colony, which by 1892 had become defunct.

Young’s first order of business was an inspection tour with Ranger Ernest Britten, a Three Rivers cattle rancher who had served as winter ranger-in-charge since 1900. That year, the Department of the Interior began the practice of employing civilian rangers to protect the parks and their improvements during winter months and to assist the troopers during the summer.

Britten had already begun repair work on the existing road, which continued the Kaweah Colony road several miles more toward Giant Forest. The route of extension, still several miles shy of completion, was also viewed with construction engineer George Welch, a Three Rivers pioneer who had worked on the road the previous two summers.

Just released…
In the Summer of 1903:
Colonel Young
and the
Buffalo Soldiers in
Sequoia National Park

Sequoia Natural History Assn.
24 pages $3.95

It was imperative they begin work right away. George Stewart, a Visalia newspaper editor, businessman, and original agitator for Sequoia’s establishment, wrote to the Secretary of the Interior on April 14¸1903, explaining that “a large number of people will visit Giant Forest this year, and it is desirable that the road building [commence] at an early date.”

On June 4, Young telegraphed the Secretary, requesting permission to begin work immediately.

“Laborers are on the grounds now,” he explained, claiming that hundreds of dollars could be saved by beginning work before the ground became hard and dry.

Work commenced on June 11, 1903, and on June 20, the Visalia Delta boasted that Captain Young would soon have the road “smooth enough for automobiles and bicycles.”

Next— Part Two: The Road to Giant Forest.

Jay O’Connell was raised in Three Rivers and currently resides in Southern California, where he works in the television industry and is an author/publisher of books on Three Rivers history.








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