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13D Will Thrall Peak

Location: Los Angeles County, California

Named for Will Thrall (1873-1963), explorer, writer, historian, and beloved protector of the San Gabriel Mountains. He is best known as the founder and editor of Trails Magazine, a quarterly dedicated to the hiker and camper (published: 1934-39, 1941). Thrall believed in the benefits of strenuous physical activity: "There is no exercise so beneficial, physically mentally or morally, nothing which gives so much of living for so little cost, as hiking our mountain and hill trails and sleeping under the stars." In his first issue he wrote "One who has not known the taste of a dinner cooked over the campfire at the end of a day's hike to some remote and lofty glade, who has not lain on a deep bed of pine needles and viewed the stars through lofty tree tops, who has not reached the heart of a friend and comrade around some glowing campfire far from civilization, has missed a lot of the joy of living and the beauty of the land in which he lives." He was widely admired, both for his collection of mountain lore and for his many successful efforts to lower fire losses. He began his publishing career in his 60's, after a working life in real estate and the retail food business. But his main efforts were always in the mountains, he spent his life learning about their flora and fauna and the secrets of their geology and history. After meeting James K. Reid, then Supervisor of the LA. County Department of Recreation Camps and Playgrounds (1932), Thrall suggested a "Mountain Information Service" to tell the public about the recreational potential of our high country as well as to instill good conservation practices. Thrall was hired to direct and implement his ideas. After a brief trial at dispensing information over the phone, Thrall realized that another means was needed. He convinced the Board of Supervisors to underwrite his idea for Trails Magazine. It contained descriptions of mountain landmarks, road and trail directions, maps and illustrations as well as listings of the outings of local outdoor organizations. From 1936 forward, each issue contained information on mountain history, this "Cabin Landmarks" series was written either by mountain pioneers, or by Thrall, based on interviews and research. It cost 10 cents and was an instant hit. He also wrote a popular outings column "Today's Hike" for the Sunday Los Angeles Times (1934-41). His conservation efforts paid off, despite a marked increase in use, fire damage was halted. Then disaster struck. Torrential rains followed by a dry spell and major fires destroyed much of the cabins, resorts and trail system lovingly built over the previous half century (1938). Worse still, the Supervisors in an "economy move" decided to fire Thrall. There was a public outcry-but to no avail. His many friends then sought to name a peak for him. E.C. Bowers, who edited a short-lived rebirth of Thrall's magazine, built a cairn on the high point of Pleasant View Ridge and unofficially named it Will Thrall Peak (1942).

In 1961 both the USFS and the USGS requested that it be officially named after Thrall. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names denied the request because of the policy of its Domestic Names Committee not to name peaks for living persons. The request was accepted after his passing. But because of ignorance on the part a government clerk (who didn't know that a named bench mark is not the same thing as a named peak), the location was bumped and the name was assigned to nearby point 7845'. The preferred location and the high point, 7983' has a USGS benchmark that reads "Pallett"-which the HPS unofficially refers to as "Pleasant View Ridge". After all attempts to correct this error failed, the Sierra Club and the Native Sons and the Golden West conceded and jointly dedicated peak 7854' (June 1965).

Name first appears on USFS Angeles National Forest map (1963).

Name officially acdepted by USBGN (1963).

Peak was added to the HPS Peak List in 1963.


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