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10I Mount Hillyer

Location: Los Angeles County, California

Named for Mary Hillyer (ca.1865-1933), described by Robinson as "a competent and much beloved clerk" who worked during the 1920's in the office of William V. Mendenhall who was Angeles N.F. Supervisor (1929-57). Nevertheless, it has often been argued that this summit might have been more appropriately titled after one of its early residents. This area was once deep in the forest and is rich in lore. The main Gabrieleño cross-mountain trail passed by this peak, however Indian names for this area are long forgotten. It was criss-crossed by bandidos during the wide-open years when Los Angeles was busy earning the title of "Murder Capitol of America". About this time, the first known dweller near "Hillyer" was the romantic and self-described "caballero" Tiburcio Vasquez (1835-75) who made the eastern slopes of this peak his mountain headquarters. Deeply resenting the results of the Mexican American War, he considered himself a guerrilla freedom-fighter who wouldn't admit defeat. He boasted no jail could hold him (probably because he had a girl in every hamlet and they usually came to his rescue) but eventually he was convicted and hung by Anglo husbands for being a notorious (horse) thief. Vasquez Rocks, and Vasquez Canyon are also named for him. "Horse Flats" below the summit of "Hillyer" is so named because Vasquez often pastured his herds there.

Jose Gonzales, one of his vaqueros, was very handy with a knife. But when he dispatched a bear with one, his amazed pals nicknamed him "Chillia"--which refers to "chilipepper", and could translate as "hot, stuff".

After Vasquez; was dispatched, Gonzales and the boys disbanded but their cabins were discovered by the next resident.

Alternatively, Lindley Bynum ascribed this name to a "Chilao Sivas" who somehow lived on these flats for forty years by running cattle and lassoing bears. Since early Cahfornios disliked these "impenetrable mountains" (still so named on 1876 GLO Plats), occupancy previous to the "wide open" days of Vasquez seems unlikely. Even if Sivas was an unrecorded associate of Vasquez, and "chillia" refers to him, this version seems inconsistant with other known facts.

The first American pioneer was Lewis Newcomb (ca.1860-1950). He settled here in 1890, and began a solitary life as one of the most well-known and knowledgeable of local mountain men. He homesteaded a quarter-section, and because of his intimate knowledge of these mountains was appointed as one of the first Forest Ranger's in the newly created San Gabriel Timberland Reserve (1898). He was involved in the construction of many structures both for friends and for the Forest Service. He built the nation's first Ranger Station at West Fork (1900) as well as the one at Pine (now Charlton) Flat (1902) where he served for many years. He is responsible for both blazing and improving many mountain trails such as the one down "Shortcut Canyon" and over the east slope of Mount Wilson to Santa Anita Canyon. In 1910 he built his third log home that is still cited on maps as "Louie's cabin". His name also survives in the Newcomb Ranch Inn, and in Newcomb Pass near Mount Wilson. He left the mountain in 1940 because he felt that the new Angeles Crest Highway (which reached here in 1938), had "ruined the place".

Name first appears on USGS Acton topo (1969).

Peak was on the original 1946 HPS Peak List. Weldon Heald climbed this peak in 1942.


Hundred Peaks Section, Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club
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Updated 25-February-2003