One hundred years ago, on Oct. 14, 15, and 16, the United States Secretary of the Interior, Walter Fisher, came to California to hold a conference to choose the best automobile route into Yosemite. The era of horse drawn stagecoaches into Yosemite Valley had drawn to a close.
More than 50 dignitaries, including John Muir, joined Fisher for the three days of deliberations, and two residents from Madera also participated. They were R. L. Hargrove and George Washington Mordecai.
Mordecai brought considerable influence to that fall conference. He had twice been elected to the California Assembly and just three months earlier had served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore. He was widely and highly respected, and when he spoke, folks stopped to listen.
Thus, it came as no surprise when the former Assemblyman from Madera rose to make an argument, he commanded everyone’s attention. Mordecai said he opposed turning the Big Oak Flat wagon trail, which ran through Merced County to Yosemite, into the first automobile road to the Valley. He had a much better idea...