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Joseph Nisbet LeConte (February 7, 1870 – February 1, 1950) was a noted explorer of the Sierra Nevada. He often went by J. N. LeConte in photographs and articles. He went by "Little Joe" among friends, because he was of short stature and the son of Joseph LeConte.

Joseph Nisbet was born in Oakland, Californiamarker to Joseph LeConte and Caroline (Nisbet) LeConte. Joseph N. loved mountaineering from the time he was a teenager and went all over the Sierra Nevada exploring, sometimes for several weeks. He produced the first map of the central Sierra Nevada for the Sierra Club, based on his exploration. At that time, USGS maps were not available.

An avid photographer, he took many photos of the Sierra Nevada, including the High Sierra and Hetch Hetchy Valleymarker before it was flooded by the dammarker.

He worked as a professor of mechanical engineering at University of California, Berkeleymarker.

A charter and lifelong member of the Sierra Club, he held positions of leadership in it. After John Muir died, he served as the club's second president (1915-1917). He was instrumental in helping create the John Muir Trail through the High Sierra as a tribute to his predecessor.He sat on the Sierra Club Board of Directors from 1898 through 1940, and at various times was VP, secretary, treasurer, and outings chair.

In 1901 he married Helen Gompertz, whom he met in the Sierra Club.

LeConte Point in Hetch Hetchy Valley is named after him.

References

  • Joseph N. LeConte, A Yosemite Camping Trip 1889 (Bancroft Library, 1990). Diary and Kodak snapshots of a family camping trip.
  • Holway R. Jones, John Muir and the Sierra Club: The Battle for Yosemite (Sierra Club, 1965). Has portrait of Joseph N. LeConte and about 16 large photographic plates taken by him of Hetch Hetchy Valley.


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