LON CHANEY CABIN
A solitary cabin stands alongside the trail which runs up the
north fork of Big Pine Creek in the
John Muir Wilderness. Its rustic Architecture
with a gable roof, over-hanging beams, and granite fieldstone exterior
do not hint that it was once the place Quasimodo, the Phantom of
the Opera, and other famous monsters came to relax, hunt, and fish
in the High Sierra. That is, this was the summer home of one of
Hollywood's most famous character actors, Lon Chaney, Sr.
The cabin is also significant for its association with Paul Revere Williams, the first African American granted a fellowship in the American Institute of Architects (A. I. A.). Williams was internationally renowned for his architectural designs, including the Saks Fifth Avenue building in Beverly Hills, for which he won the A. I. A. Award for Excellence. He was also won seven national and regional competitions for his special area of expertise--individual homes. Many of the 2,000 homes he planned were for other film celebrities, but Lon Chaney's Cabin is the only mountain cabin Williams designed throughout his distinguished career.
The cabin was so much a part of Chaney's life that when Universal Studios filmed his biography, "Man of a Thousand Faces," staring James Cagney, they used his summer home for a portion of it. After Chaney's death in 1932, the cabin was sold and later became property of the U.S. Forest Service.
To get to Lon Chaney's Cabin, take the Glacier Lodge turn-off from Highway 395 in the town of Big Pine. Travel west along Big Pine Creek to the trailhead at Glacier Lodge. Take the North Fork Trail for about 2 miles to the cabin, just inside the wilderness boundary.
The cabin is located up the North Fork of the Big
Pine Creek Trail. It is not an easy trek, but the views are
terrific. The North Fork trail offers access to Big Pine Lakes and
the Palisade Glacier, the largest glacier in the Sierra. The Palisades
Crest rising above 14,000 ft. contains some of the finest alpine
climbing in California.
The Big Pine Lakes trail zigzags through a slope of sage, Manzanita, and Jeffrey Pine before it reaches second falls and follows along the creek to its headwaters. The flowers in early summer are abundant along the path leading into the canyon. The cabin now serves as a wilderness ranger residence during the summer months. The hike is 3 miles and at an elevation of 9,220 is not an easy one, but very do able.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Shulman Grove Visitors Center
White Mountain Ranger Station
798 N. Main St. Bishop, CA 93514