From the Recollections of Life and Events in Wawona series

By Anthony Cooley, Cabin 24


In 1954 Major Warren H. Cooley and his wife Alice were invited by a fellow army officer to spend some time at a place called Wawona. During this visit they both fell in love with the fantastic surroundings and peaceful environment. At a party on the last day of their stay Warren pulled Richard Moore Sr. (original owner and developer of the Redwoods) aside. He pointed to a knoll across the lane and said “Build me a cabin right there!” At the time, there were little more than a dozen cabins in the Redwoods complex.

The dream was established. Six months later, with financial assistance from Zella Gautschi (Alice’s mother) the dream came true and Cabin #24 came to be. Cabin 24 has seen many visitors and many changes over the years. The completion of Cabin 24 came less than 10 years after Wawona received electric power and the same year as the Yosemite Flood of 1955.

Cabin 24 in snow and kids playing with mother on the river

On the night December 21st of 1996 a relentless snowstorm engulfed the Sierras dumping several feet of snow in just a matter of hours. One week later this unusually large snow pack would prove to be a contributing factor to the Yosemite Flood of 1997, which did considerable damage and altered the course of rivers throughout the park. In the early morning hours of December 22nd, with the snow still falling, this storm devastated Cabin #24. A 100-foot pine tree surrendered to the weight of the snow, and broke off 20 feet up, with the remaining 80 feet falling directly onto the unoccupied cabin.

The impact of the tree dislodged the gas water heater exposing the now free flowing gas to the still burning pilot light. Cabin 24 was destroyed. In a single night of nature’s dramatic flurry, the cabin that stood for over forty years was reduced to charred redwood and piles of rubble. The Storm that demolished the cabin also dramatically altered many areas throughout the park as nature continues her ever evolving cycle of transformation.

Upon receiving the news on the morning of December 22, 1996, without a moment’s hesitation nor a second thought the goal was to rebuild.

In over forty years there have been numerous joyous moments and remarkable experiences at cabin 24. Some were captured on film; others live only in memory.

Bears next to car and bucks rutting in 1950s



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