The History of Camp John Mensinger

Greater Yosemite Council was given the last lumber camp in Tuolumne County that was only served by railroad.

In the late 1920’s the Standard Lumber Company had harvested most of the lumber south of the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River. In 1930 the Sugar Pine Railroad was extended up the north side of the river from Beardsley Flat to Sourgrass (at the current end of the paved road on the way to Camp John Mensinger). The Sugar Pine Railroad and the logging operations were shut down during the depression from 1931 to 1937. In 1937 the Pickering Lumber Company reorganized the Standard Lumber Company Climbing Towerand the Sugar Pine Railroad and again began logging north of the Stanislaus River.

Sourgrass was operated as a logging camp from 1937 to 1939. Then the railroad was extended from Sourgrass to Soap Creek Pass in 1940. When the Beardsley Dam was built in the 1950’s the Sugar Pine Railroad at Beardsley Flat was submerged. The railroad was re-located over the top of the dam and connected to the old right of way. There was no road over the dam and up the north face of the river bluff.

The Soap Creek Pass logging camp was only served by the Sugar Pine Railroad until it stopped operation in 1963. The Soap Creek Pass Lumber Camp was finally abandoned in 1965.

Black Powder RangeIn 1969 Wm. J. Pendola, a member of the board of the Pickering Lumber Co. and also the Yosemite Area Council, arranged for the Pickering Lumber Co. to give to the Boy Scouts the entire Soap Creek Pass Lumber Camp and additional acreage. The camp originally had a total of 108 buildings and was used, beginning in 1970 as a summer camp.

Since that time the new Camp John Mensinger has been built and the old lumber camp has gone into disrepair. There are currently 12 – 15 buildings that could be salvaged from the original camp.

The Council’s Long Range Plan calls for the development of a High Adventure Camp for older Boy Scouts, Venture Scouts, Venturing Crew Members and Explorers. The camp’s name has been established as Soap Creek Pass in keeping with the historical location of the new camp.