Ever since 1921, the Evergreen Lodge has been a vibrant part of the Yosemite landscape. The lodge was originally developed to facilitate building of the O’Shaughnessy Dam in Hetch Hetchy Valley. Though no definitive records exist, spoken history indicates that the Evergreen was founded by a man who worked on the Hetch Hetchy Railroad. That railroad was principally built to haul people and materials to and from the Hetch Hetchy dam construction site. In the early years, the Evergreen was a post office, restaurant and general store. Lore has it that moonshine was brewed in the basement of the lodge during Prohibition.
In the late 1920’s, the Evergreen was purchased by Roy & Stelle Thornton, who built the Main Lodge that we know today. In the mid-1930’s, the lodge was sold to Dan & Angie Rovero of San Francisco. Rovero had previously operated the Groveland Hotel and took over the Evergreen to capitalize on the boom during the construction operation that raised the height of the Hetch Hetchy Dam in the late 1930’s. Business thrived during this period as local workers frequented the Evergreen tavern and took advantage of three illegal slot machines located on site. During this time, the Roveros added a Standard Oil gas station in front of the lodge. While the pumps are long since gone, the original gas station still stands today.
In 1952, the Evergreen was sold to Jack & Katherine Garrison who operated the lodge until 1971. Katherine Garrison was a legendary figure in the area and is pictured holding a gun in the large photo at the entry area of our restaurant. During their tenure, the Garrisons further developed the Evergreen into a popular tourist hang out, adding an outdoor dining and dance patio in the spot that is now occupied by our general store. One weekend a month in summers, the Garrisons would hire a four-person orchestra to play on the patio. This practice was discontinued in the 1960’s as the lodge’s young guests preferred to listen to rock music on their portable radios.
In 1975, the Evergreen was purchased by John Bargmann, a retired Berkeley fireman. At that point, the Evergreen had been shut down after 4 years of mismanagement and decline. John revitalized the business and added 8 cabins to the 10 that still remained. For the next 25 years, Bargmann’s life revolved around the Evergreen. He met his wife, Kay, at the lodge, married her at Camp Mather’s Birch Lake and raised his kids here as well.
In 2001, the Evergreen was sold to the current owners, Brian Anderluh, Dan Braun & Lee Zimmerman, who have since renovated the lodge and added 75 new cabins and communal buildings.
A lot has changed since the Evergreen first opened in 1921. Fortunately, much has remained the same. As in the old days, the Evergreen is still a meeting spot for all walks of life to come and enjoy a classic Yosemite experience. However, these days you will be just as likely to enjoy the company of an international tourist as that of a Park Ranger, rock climber or local resident.
As owners of the Evergreen, we feel lucky to be stewards of such a special place, and we are committed to making sure the Evergreen continues to create lasting memories for another hundred years. While certain traditions have become things of the past (like bootlegging and poor shower pressure!), we are proud and excited that the Evergreen now offers an all-around lodging and guest experience that is unparalleled in the Yosemite area.
Our goal is to provide gracious and friendly service, quality products, private and communal settings, and a huge array of opportunities to educate you about the Yosemite area. You will find many ways to create your ideal experience.
Simply stated, we want you to be blown away by your experience at the Evergreen and to be sad to leave. We hope you will return and become a regular part of the Evergreen tradition and family. And if you can’t come back, we want the lodge to be a place you will always remember.
We look forward to seeing you here and we hope that the Evergreen brings you as much joy and pleasure as it does us.
Lee Zimmerman, Brian Anderluh & Dan Braun