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16D Dawson Peak

Location: San Bernardino County, California

Named by surveyor Donald McLain in 1920.

Previous attributions cite R.W. Dawson (e.g., the (HPS Peak Guides), but these now appear to be false. R.W. Dawson (n.d.), was an early settler who attempted mining in San Gabriel Canyon in 1876. He secured water rights to Crystal Lake but failed to develop power when it was discovered that the lake was fed by run-off rather than by springs. From 1904-07 he managed Coldbrook Camp (Squirrel inn), the first and most popular of the North Fork resorts. He knew the mountains well and often hiked through them.

Another possibility is Nicholas Dawson (1819-1903), who was a member of the Bartleson-Bidwell party, the first group of settlers to cross the Sierra. He arrived in Los Angeles in 1841 at the ranch of Dr John Marsh who was one of the first to actively seek U.S. immigration to California. Nicholas later returned east via Sonora and published memoirs of his travels: California in 41- Texas in 51 (1901).

Nevertheless, it now seems certain that it was named in honor of revered bookman Ernest Dawson (1882-1947) who founded Dawson's Bookstore (1905), and was an influential early member of the Sierra Club. Ernest pioneered our outings program by serving as Chair (1916-27) of the Angeles Chapter Committee on Local Excursions, and popularized local weekend backpacks. He was also on the Chapter ExCom (1916-23, 1926-31), became Director of the Sierra Club (1922-23, 1925-26), Fifth Officer (1923-25), Vice President (1933-35), and President (1935-37). He even headed the committee that raised the funds for construction of Harwood Lodge. He is survived by two sons, Glen and Muir. Glen was one of the leading rock climbers of his day and served on the Club's National Board (1937-51). Muir, who has long been a mainstay of our Chapter's History Committee, recalls that "it has always been a family tradition that the peak was named after my father". Glen is unequivocal: "I knew Don McLain and he definitely named the peak for my father". John W. Robinson and others accept this new information.

Incorrectly called "Mount Dawson" on the original HPS Peak List.

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