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Guide to the Warren Lee Rogers Papers, 1912-1992
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Bibliography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Warren Lee Rogers papers
    Dates: 1912-1992
    Collection Size: 63 boxes.
    Repository: Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery
    San Marino, CA 91108
    Abstract: This collection contains the papers of Warren Lee Rogers, which focus on the world of outdoor recreation, education and camping, and the creation of the Pacific Crest Trail.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please contact the Huntington Library Reader Services Department at readerregistration@huntington.org.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from the collection must be submitted in writing to the appropriate curator. The Huntington's granting permission to publish does not transfer copyright it owns, and permission is granted only to the extent of Huntington ownership of the rights related to the request. Certain works requested which are physically owned by the Huntington may be protected by copyright, trademark, or related interests not owned by the Huntington. The responsibility for determining whether any such intangible rights exist, for obtaining all necessary permissions, and for guarding against the infringement of those rights that may be held elsewhere, remains with the requester.

    Preferred Citation

    Warren Lee Rogers papers, Manuscripts Dept., Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift from Mr. and Mrs. Donald Lee Rogers.
    Acquisition number: 2040.

    Biography / Administrative History

    In 1924, sixteen year-old Warren Lee Rogers climbed his first peak, Mt. San Gorgonio at 11,485 feet. It must have made quite an impression, because during his lifetime, he climbed 119 Pacific Crest summits each over 9,000 feet. In 1935, while a secretary at the Alhambra YMCA, he was chosen to be the trail guide for the YMCA relay teams that first explored the proposed route for the Pacific Crest Trail. Organized by Clinton Clarke of Pasadena, the 40 teams consisted of young men aged 14 to 18 and operated during summers from 1935 through 1938. Warren L. Rogers first met Clinton C. Clarke in 1932 when the idea for a continuous trail from Mexico to Canada was formulating and Clarke founded the Pacific Crest Trail System Conference to lobby for it.
    Clarke was a Harvard-educated businessman who helped found the Pasadena Playhouse, but the Pacific Crest Trail was his passion, and he steadfastly worked with numerous conservation groups and government agencies to see the trail's completion. While others were discouraged by government bureaucracy and rights-of-way issues, Clarke persevered. The work of the Y-Relay teams and the Civilian Conservation Corps got the Pacific Crest Trail off to a good start. Unfortunately, World War II stifled progress, and post-war efforts were still not enough to see the trail completely realized.
    After the relays, Rogers devoted much effort to promoting the Trail through radio programs and some 200 talks before service clubs and school assemblies. He directed camping programs for the YMCA for twenty-one years, retiring in 1952. Thereafter he worked for a number of non-profit organizations including the Southern California Camp Bureau which helped establish the Los Angeles Times Summer Camp Fund. His passion for the great outdoors and the PCT never waned, and when Clinton Clarke passed away in 1957, Rogers took up the cause of completing the Trail.
    Rogers acquired Clarke's PCT files from Clarke's estate and formed the Camp Research Foundation to keep the dream alive. He continued to collect trail updates, and was one of the few sources hikers could turn to for credible information until the enactment of the National Trails System Act of 1968, which designated the U.S. Forest Service manager of the PCT. The National Trails Act also established an Advisory Council for the PCT and the Secretary of Agriculture appointed Rogers, who served on the council for over sixteen years. He founded the Pacific Crest Club in 1977 and maintained PCT support enterprises such as his Pocket Maps as well as his Food Pack service, which delivered meals for hikers along the trail, keeping their loads light for the 2,650 mile haul.
    After almost 60 years of uphill climbing, Warren Rogers came a little closer to the summit than Clinton Clarke. He was able to attend the Walker Pass ceremony in 1991 when he was 83: at this point the trail was complete except for a small stretch over Tejon Ranch. Rogers wouldn't live to see the PCT Golden Spike Ceremony on June 5, 1993, the first National Trails Day.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The daunting task of coordinating the interests of three states, their respective government agencies, and an alliance of some thirty conservation and recreational associations, all with their own agendas and perspectives, was pivotal to Clinton Clarke's quest for a Pacific Crest Trail, and makes his correspondence one of the highlights of the Warren Lee Rogers Papers. Clarke's essays show he not only wanted to preserve the wonderlands of the Pacific slope, but all wilderness areas he saw threatened by a "Coney Island" mentality destroying the natural beauty of the west. He denounced the effects of mechanization on society and its youth, whom he thought would be better off strengthening their bodies and minds in the great outdoors than sitting on soft chairs in front of radios.
    The Pacific Crest Trail experience is featured in many portions of the collection, beginning with Clarke's descriptions in his publications. The Y-Relays series contains correspondence, photographs, radio scripts, participants' surveys and transcribed portions of the log book carried on the trek - all giving a variety of perspectives of the Trail experience. The PCT registers and hikers' correspondence can be found in the Rogers' Businesses series. Approximately 27 percent of the collection, of course, is the many maps, ranging from those used in the Y-Relays, to the large assortment Rogers used to update his pocket maps; the latter files also contain visitor guides and brochures from an amazing array of national forests and parks in Washington, Oregon, California and elsewhere.
    The Rogers collection offers many insights into the world of outdoor recreation, education and camping from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. While some of his business ventures focused on the Pacific Crest Trail, his publications covered a broader range of recreational subjects. The files on camps and maps (filled with brochures and guides), for example, cover the United States from roughly 1930 through 1970. The Outdoor Recreation and Organizations series illuminates the workings of such groups as the American Camping Association, the Association for Outdoor Education, YMCA, and other groups affiliated with religions. The series also contains periodicals and documents on a range of related subjects.


    The Papers of Warren Lee Rogers are arranged in the following series:
    1. Clinton Clarke 2. Y-Relays 3. PCT Governing Bodies 4. Rogers' Businesses, including these adjunct groupings: a. Maps, guides b. Over-sized Maps c. Camps 5. Outdoor Recreation and Organizations (non-PCT) 6. Other Media 7. Rogers' Personal Papers
    A more detailed explanation of each series follows:
    1. CLINTON CLARKE 13 boxes (WLR 1-13) 1927-1956
    Arranged by original volume number, this series consists primarily of Clinton Clarke's correspondence as housed either in bound volumes or numbered letter boxes. Although these volumes have alphabetical indexes, it appears Clarke's intention was to arrange the letters chronologically. Nevertheless, such a schema was not maintained and many of the date spans and subjects overlap. The letters deal with the organization and promotion of what originally was thought of as an extension of the John Muir Trail that would reach Canada and Mexico, connecting with other scenic trails in the process. This concept quickly became known as the Pacific Crest Trail.
    Clarke corresponded with relevant government agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service, as well as the Rotary Club, Sierra Club, Boys Scouts of America, the Mountain League, YMCA and other organizations interested in outdoor recreation, conservation and education. Many of these letters cover the activities of the Pacific Trail System Conference, the governing body of the PCT, and the activities of the Y-Relay teams which first explored the trail. Clarke wrote many PCT "bulletins" which offered updated information on trail conditions and development. He created detailed field guides and itinerary for PCT hikers. He wrote pamphlets on the natural wonders -- mountain peaks, lakes, flora and fauna -- found along the trail which passes through 25 national forests and seven national parks. Clarke also promoted wilderness preservation, endorsed a national physical training program and voiced his opposition to the proposed Mt. San Jacinto tramway (the future Palms Springs Tramway) through his letter writing campaigns and essays. There are a few personal items including passports and a tie clip. The last box (13) in this series contains a scrapbook commemorating the 1931 dedication of Mt. Baden-Powell in the San Gabriel Mountains.
    2. Y-RELAYS 4 boxes (WLR 14-17) 1935-1991
    Correspondence is arranged chronologically and concerns the coordinating efforts of YMCA chapters in three states to set up and execute these pioneering relays which first scouted a route for the Pacific Crest Trail during the summer months of 1935 through 1938. Each relay team carried the log book and official letters which they passed from team to team. Transcribed portions of the log book are included in this series as well as one of the original letters from San Diego's 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. The rosters of the many relay team members are included along with feedback from the participants in the form of correspondence and survey forms. The positive feedback was used in promotional efforts to publicize the trail for future exploration and trail completion. There are some (mostly damaged) photographs that appear to have been taken during the relays, and at the trail's end ceremony. At the conclusion of the relays, Rogers continued promoting the PCT through his talks before civic groups, and via radio programs -- the scripts from which are found in this series.
    Additional subjects in this series are the commemorative PCT hikes and ceremonies before the trail reached completion in 1993: the Trailfinder Hike, Bicentennial Hike, 1991 Walker Pass dedication and others. The last two boxes in the series (16-17) contain the annotated (and trail-dirty) maps used on the original relay hikes.
    3. PCT GOVERNING BODIES 5 boxes (WLR 18-22) 1935-1991
    Correspondence between Rogers and representatives of the various governing bodies overseeing the Pacific Crest Trail is arranged alphabetically by the name of the governing body: the (PCT) Advisory Council (created by the National Trails Act of 1968); California state departments of Water and Parks and Recreation; the Pacific Crest Trail System Conference; United States Department of Agriculture - United States Forest Service; United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management and USDI's National Park Service.
    4. ROGERS' BUSINESSES 30 boxes (WLR 23-52) 1933-1992
    Rogers parlayed his backpacking expertise and PCT connections into various business ventures including numerous publications (Western Camping Magazine, PCT Quarterly, Camp Directors Digest, PCT Voice, the PCT Relays booklet), his PCT Pocket Guide maps and the Food Pack service which supplied meals to hikers along the trail. The folders are arranged alphabetically by name of product, service or related subject. Rogers set up trail registers at certain points along PCT and excerpts from those logs are in this series, some of which have Polaroids of the hikers attached. His position as elder PCT statesman brought him in contact with hikers from all over the world, as shown in the "Hikers, PCT" folders.
    For the Camp Directors Digest publication, Rogers collected research data from camps across America, and these files are arranged alphabetically by camp name in Boxes 50-52 (Series 4c). The maps he used for trail update information are also in a separate section, Boxes 34-48 (Series 4a). These boxes are initially arranged by state - Washington, Oregon and California (which reflects the preferred PCT route by hikers) - and then alphabetically by national forest or other geographic area. Box 48 contains maps for British Columbia, Idaho and Nevada. Box 49 contains Series 4b, the over-sized PCT-related maps.
    5. OUTDOOR RECREATION and ORGANIZATIONS (Non-PCT) 8 boxes (WLR 53-60) 1935-1992 Bulk: late 1950s to mid-1960s
    Highlights include files on the American Camping Association, Association of Outdoor Education, National Survival Association, Pacific Camping Federation, Southern California Camping Association and several folders on the YMCA in various regions. There is information on backpacking, the Appalachian Trail, the Mineral King development in California's Sequoia National Forest, clubs, museums, facilities, services, bibliographies and the origins of geographic names. An alphabetical-by-subject arrangement is used throughout. In boxes 59 and 60 there is an assortment of camping magazines and newsletters.
    6. OTHER MEDIA 1 box (WLR 61) Circa 1959-1980 Bulk: 1977
    The six "Stenorette" tape magazines at 45 minutes each (circa 1959) have not been transcribed, as a playback device is not available.
    The 105 color slides and transparencies are related to Rogers' PCT talks, featuring map symbols, wind velocity, bus stops near the trail, rock formations, fault lines, wilderness areas, national forests and parks. There are a few slides of YMCA Camp Campbell (Rogers in a red plaid shirt). The slides are arranged in presentation sheets, but are grouped as they were in their original boxes.
    7. ROGERS' PERSONAL PAPERS 2 boxes (WLR 62-63) 1933-1991
    Beyond the bills and trifles of every day life are letters from hiking buddies from Rogers' YMCA days who nicknamed him "Cactus," files on George Williams College which Rogers attended, YMCA Camp Meehan where he worked, and his Army records. The few photographs found are from a trip to Death Valley in the early '40s and from the Bakersfield area.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Adams, Ansel, 1902-1984--Correspondence.
    Baldwin, Hanson Weightman, 1903-.--Correspondence.
    Butcher, Devereux--Correspondence.
    Dench, Ernest A.--Correspondence.
    Chapman, Oscar L. (Oscar Littleton), 1896-1978--Correspondence.
    Goodman, E. Urner (Edward Urner), 1891-1980--Correspondence.
    Goslin, Willard E. (Willard Edward), 1899- --Correspondence.
    Griffith, Ernest Stacey, 1896- --Correspondence.
    Grosvenor, Gilbert Hovey, 1875-1966--Correspondence.
    Gwinn, Ralph W. (Ralph Waldo), 1884-1962--Correspondence.
    Heller, Louis B.--Correspondence.
    Humphrey, Hubert H., 1942- --Correspondence.
    Larsen, Roy E. (Roy Edward), b. 1899--Correspondence.
    Livermore, Norman B.--Correspondence.
    Lydgate, William A. (William Anthony), 1909- --Correspondence.
    McHenry, Donald E.--Correspondence.
    Show, S. B. (Stuart Bevier), 1886-1963--Correspondence.
    Sieker, John H.--Correspondence.
    Sumners, Hatton W. (Hatton William), 1875-1962--Correspondence.
    Taft, Robert A. (Robert Alphonso), 1889-1953--Correspondence.
    Thompson, Snowshoe, 1827-1876--Correspondence.
    White, Stewart Edward, 1873-1946--Correspondence.
    Wirth, Conrad Louis, 1899- --Cirrespondence.
    Yard, Robert Sterling, 1861-1945--Correspondence.
    Zahniser, Howard--Correspondence.
    Drury, Newton Bishop, 1889-1978--Correspondence.
    Farquhar, Francis Peloubet, 1887- --Correspondence.
    Geist, Roland C.--Correspondence.
    California. Dept. of Parks and Recreation.
    Deschutes National Forest (Agency : U.S.)
    Library of Congress. Legislative Reference Service.
    United States. Bureau of Land Management--Correspondence.
    United States. Dept. of the Interior--Correspondence.
    United States. Forest Service--Correspondence.
    United States. National Park Service.
    Angeles National Forest (Agency : U.S.)
    Boy Scouts of America.
    Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs.
    Geological Survey (U.S.)
    Gifford Pinchot National Forest (Agency : U.S.)
    Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (Agency : U.S.)
    Mt. Hood National Forest (Agency : U.S.)
    National Citizens Commission for the Public Schools.
    Okanogan National Forest (Agency : U.S.)
    Pasadena Playhouse.
    Rogue River National Forest (Agency : U.S.)
    Rotary International.
    Sunset Magazine (Firm)
    Umpqua National Forest (Agency : U.S.)
    Wenatchee National Forest (Agency : U.S.)
    Willamette National Forest (Agency : U.S.)
    Winema National Forest (Agency : U.S.)
    YMCA of the USA.
    United States. Dept. of Agriculture--Correspondence.
    Smokey Bear.
    Appalachian Trail.
    Cleveland National Forest (Calif.)
    Crater Lake National Park (Or.)
    Eldorado National Forest (Calif.)
    Inyo National Forest (Calif. and Nev.)
    John Muir Trail (Calif.)
    Kings Canyon National Park (Calif.)
    Klamath National Forest (Calif. and Or.)
    Lassen Volcanic National Park (Calif.)
    Mount Rainier National Park (Agency : U.S.)
    Pacific Crest Trail--History--Sources.
    Pasayten Wilderness (Wash.)
    Plumas National Forest (Calif.)
    San Bernardino National Forest (Calif.)
    San Gorgonio Wilderness (Calif.)
    San Jacinto Wilderness (Calif.)
    Sequoia National Park (Calif.)
    Shasta National Forest (Calif.)
    Sierra National Forest (Calif.)
    Snoqualmie National Forest (Wash.)
    Tahoe National Forest (Calif.)
    Toiyabe National Forest (Nev. and Calif.)
    Yosemite National Park (Calif.)

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Brochures--United States.

    Index Terms Related to this Collection

    Clarke, Clinton, d. 1957.


    Edwards, Mike W. Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. National Geographic Vol. 139, No. 6 (June 1971).
    Gray, William R. The Pacific Crest Trail. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1975.
    Schaffer, Jeffrey. The Pacific Crest Trail. 5th edition. Berkeley, Calif.: Wilderness Press, 1990-1995.
    Wolar, Glynn Gary. The conceptualization and development of pedestrian recreational wilderness trails in the American West, 1890-1940: a landscape history. University of Idaho: Dept. of History Dissertations, 1998.