From the Recollections of Life and Events in Wawona series

By Leslie Train


My grandmother, Charlotte Bruce Gibner, and her two older sisters, Allie and Fanny, were raised by their aunt and uncle, Henry & Jean Washburn, in the Wawona Hotel and San Francisco. My grandmother’s father, John Bruce, was general manager at the hotel but died when my grandmother was about 2. Her mother Catherine, who was born in Melbourne, Australia, died not long after.

The Bruce family homestead in Wawona

The Bruce Family homestead (NPS collection, public domain)

My grandmother would tell stories about taking the train from San Francisco to Raymond (the station is now under restoration) and then the stagecoach to Wawona. She graduated from Stanford in 1903 and returned to Wawona to teach at the school. She met my grandfather there, Dr. H.C. Gibner, who was the surgeon with the cavalry troop stationed nearby at what is now the Wawona campground. They were married at the Wawona Hotel November 30, 1905 in a snow storm and traveled the world with my grandfather’s military career.

When my grandfather died in 1948, my grandmother bought a plot of land from her cousin Jeanette Bruce and commenced building the cabin now known as 16B. She wanted to return to her roots.

Two of Jeanette’s brothers operated a saw mill behind her cabin (no longer in existence). The remains of the mill are still there to the left of 16B between Chilnualna Falls Road and and the upper loop road. I believe the flume mentioned in an earlier e-mail went to the saw mill. My mother, Charlotte Gibner Train, has a childhood memory of the Bruce brothers with their long beards sawing away in their mill.

Men at the Bruce sawmill in Wawona

The Bruce sawmill in Wawona


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