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4I Mount Pinos

Location: Ventura County, California

Name describes the mantle of Pine (Pinus) trees that still cover the summit and slopes of this, the highest peak in the Los Padres National Forest. "Pino" is Spanish for "pine". A Point Pinos in Monterey Bay was named by explorer Juan Cabrillo for similar reasons (1542).

Jim Blakley contends that "Pinos" is the original name. William S. Brown notes that this area was a primary source for piñon nuts (one of the chief articles of diet) for local Indians, as well as tribes from the Mojave.

This peak was also once a dividing landmark between native territories, and was occupied by the San Emigdio tribe of the Ventureño (Chumash) Indians. A local legend tells of Chuchupate, an unusual maiden who was gifted with knowledge of plants and herbs. She promised her people that even after her passing she would watch over them. When famine and drought threatened, she reappeared in the form of an edible plant with medicinal properties. USFS Wildlife Biologist Patty Bates, at nearby Chuchupate Ranger Station, states that this "Chuchupate" plant may be identified today as the "Arrowleaf balsamroot" (Lomatium californicum). It is a member of the sunflower family and is a ground clinging, yellow-green plant whose roots, leaves (heart or arrowhead shaped), and flowers (3" wide bright-yellow) all have a strong celery-like scent. It grows in clumps up to 18" high, and is native to this area. The San Emigdio Indians also used it as a love charm. These Indians offered no organized resistance to Euro American incursions and were later decimated due to the false belief that they were guardians of the secret location of the "Lost Padres" mine-fabled to be the source of Mission Era gold. Several men claimed to have found this site only to lose it again. Search for it stimulated gold hunting in this area during the 1860's.

Mining was successfully carried out for another ore on the southern slopes of Mount Pinos, creating the Colmanite (borax) mining community of Stauffer (1899-1908).

Timber activities were also concentrated in this general area. A small sawmill existed here (1898-1904).

The USFS constructed a fire lookout here consisting of a 30' K-B type open k-brace steel tower with a 14' by 14' wood cab (1937).

On the summit still is a USAF microwave facility that connects Vandenberg and Edwards Air Force Bases.

Also known as "Mount Piños".

Originally named "McGill Peak" on Wheeler Survey map (1871).

Name first appears on California State Mining Bureau Preliminary Map of California (1891).

Peak was on the original 1946 HPS Peak List. Weldon Heald climbed this peak in 1939.


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Updated 25-February-2003