John H. Wegner

John H. Wegner

Was born. December 31, 1884 in Merced, California. Johnís first job in Yosemite was in the valley store during 1914 and 1916 as clerk. He was an ardent baseball player and belonged to the Merced Ball Team. He married Rose Thornton of Merced, California, and they had one son, Francis.

On June 2, 1916 he was appointed temporary ranger and assigned to the Crane Flat Station, on the Old Big Oak Flat Road. Francis was a baby six months old at the time and the Wegners lived in the government log, cabin which was moved to Wawona in 1959 as part of the Pioneer Center.

John was assigned to mounted patrol from 1918 to 1926. He made many trips into the high country and spent two years at Hetch Hetchy as ranger in charge. In 1927 he was appointed Acting Assistant Chief Ranger, and received permanent Assistant Chief, March 1, 1928. John always took a keen interest in fire protection work. In 1929 he attended the U. S. Forest Service short term Forestry School and later was assigned to work with John Coffman in preparing a forest fire protection plan for the Park. He became Park Fire Chief in 1931.

John was a member of the Safety Advisory Council for many years and a member of the Board of Directors of the Yosemite Credit Union. He also was president of the National Federation of Federal Employees.

During the hoof and mouth disease epidemic of 1923-1924, which spread to the deer in the Park, John was assigned as liaison officer representing the Park and the adjacent area for the control of the epidemic.

John had much to do with the establishment of fire lookouts and fire protection equipment. The first fire engine was a 1926 Graham Dodge truck, converted to a chemical fire truck equipped with racks for shovels, axes and rakes. A fire engine equipped with ladders, hoses and a water tank came later. Prior to the establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps man power was a big problem. Often a lone ranger went to a fire and stayed with it until it was out regardless of time and size.

John made a fine ranger for his heart and soul was in the work. He became Acting Chief Ranger a short time after the death of Chief Ranger Townsley and was then transferred to Sequoia National Park as Chief Ranger, February 25, 1944. John remained there until his retirement on December 31, 1949. He has made his home in Los Angeles the past few years.

 

Contributed by: Carol Lackey