Walker Pass-- Fall 1963
On October 19, 1963, the then recently established "Peter Lebeck" Chapter of E Clampus Vitus unveiled its first erection – a plaque co-sponsored with Platrix Chapter dedicated to the memory of Joseph R. Walker and the blazing of what became know as "Walker Pass," a route over the southern Sierra Nevada that traverses the northern edge of Kern County. Our humble plaque stood sentinel at the summit of California State Highway 178 for roughly forty years until forced to succumb to the avarice of vandals. The graphic simulation seen here is based upon what we know about the plaque's original wording and layout.
At the time of the monument's erection, The Kern County Chapter of E Clampus Vitus® was barely two years old. E Clampus Vitus Redevivis -– the Clamper revival movement that had originated with University of California academics at Berkeley in 1931 -– had its principal expression in two chapters: it's original northern chapter, Yerba Buena #1 (known as "YB1"), and its southern chapter, Platrix #2 (Los Angeles and Orange Counties). Established in 1961, Peter Lebeck #1866 represented a strategic effort to expand ECV into the southern portion of the great Central Valley of California.
At the time no one gave much thought to chapter numbers, but over time chapter numbers became part of how we Clampers express our identity and sense of humour. Peter Lebeck became Chapter #1866, for the date Kern County was established, but ECV also acquired a chapter #7-11 (Pair-o-Dice), a #4149 (a chapter at the intersection of two state highways), and a #1.5 (Our San Luis Obispo Chapter, De la Guerra y Pacheco -- half way between Yerba Buena #1 and Platrix #2). E Clampus Vitus in its current, lively incarnation now has 41 recognized western chapters and two outposts. Could Hawaii and Alaska be next?
Walker Pass was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961. For many years our piece of the Walker Pass Monument stood as a sign of solidarity between the brothers of ECV Chapters Peter Lebeck and Platrix, who jointly sponsored this plaque. One of these days that monument may rise again.