Three Go Camping in Yosemite

24 March 2016

Cultural Studies | History

Photograph Album No. 97. "Three Hoboes", © Alfred Ghirardelli, 1903. Reproduced by kind permission of California Historical Society and Sidney Lawrence. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 

Summer 2016 will see the release of Adam Matthew’s History of Mass Tourism, a highly visual and searchable collection celebrating the growth of tourism from the mid-1800s to 1960s. One of the treasures found in this resource is a photograph album belonging to a young Alfred Ghirardelli, heir to the Ghirardelli chocolate empire, depicting a trip to Yosemite in the summer of 1903. With Alfred about to begin university, this album captures a carefree holiday spent with brothers Louis and Harvey, climbing some of the most famous peaks in Yosemite and camping in the valley.

Photograph Album No. 97. "Three Hoboes", © Alfred Ghirardelli, 1903. Reproduced by kind permission of California Historical Society and Sidney Lawrence. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Titling his album ‘Three Hoboes in Yosemite’, Alfred gives us a rare glimpse of the national park a century ago and what it would have been like to explore one of the most treasured sites in North America when ‘wilderness’ meant exactly that. The photos show the Ghirardelli brothers’ ascent of Cloud’s Rest and Glacier Point, where they captured fantastic views of the iconic Halfdome, as well as three of Yosemite’s great waterfalls; Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls and Yosemite Falls.

Photograph Album No. 97. "Three Hoboes", © Alfred Ghirardelli, 1903. Reproduced by kind permission of California Historical Society and Sidney Lawrence. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Photograph Album No. 97. "Three Hoboes", © Alfred Ghirardelli, 1903. Reproduced by kind permission of California Historical Society and Sidney Lawrence. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

There is a wealth of material in History of Mass Tourism documenting some of the earliest tourism to the national parks, an increasingly popular pastime in the early 1900s, championed and enabled by conservationists such as John Muir who sought to protect California’s natural landscapes.

Having already received some protection through the Yosemite Grant of 1864, it was a visit by Theodore Roosevelt and Muir in the May of 1903 that secured Yosemite’s future forever; a story which also features the Ghirardelli family. At this time Alfred’s Aunt Angela and her husband Chris Jorgensen were artists in residence at Yosemite, passionate about promoting the beauty of the valley. Just two months before Alfred embarked on his pre-college camping trip, the Jorgensen’s played host to Roosevelt himself during his trip, as their studio had been reserved for his needs. Roosevelt spent three days hiking and camping in the park with John Muir as a guide, whose impassioned lobbying led Roosevelt to bring the Valley and the Mariposa Grove under Federal protection as part of a unified Yosemite National Park, guaranteeing the protection of Yosemite forever.


Photograph Album No. 97. "Three Hoboes", © Alfred Ghirardelli, 1903. Reproduced by kind permission of California Historical Society and Sidney Lawrence. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

This wonderful, whimsically-named photograph album captures the spirit of freedom and adventure that the national parks and wildernesses of California presented for a young man about to face his responsibilities in the family business. Taken the same summer as Roosevelt and Muir’s historic expedition, Alfred’s photos beautifully pay homage to the awe-inspiring grandeur of Yosemite’s treasures and its importance to the history of tourism in North America. 

These documents and more on tourism and vacations in the great outdoors can be found in the forthcoming resource History of Mass Tourism, due for publication in summer 2016. Full access restricted to authenticated academic institutions who have purchased a license.

For more information, including trial access and price enquiries, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About the Author

Ellie Davey Corrigan

I am a Development Editor at Adam Matthew, having joined the team in 2015. My academic background lies in Classical History and Languages but as an editor in academic publishing I have worked across a variety of subjects from Business, Marketing and Gender Studies to International Relations. I am enjoying getting back to my historical roots working on a wide range of new projects at Adam Matthew.

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