Will Thrall embraced the San Gabriel Mountains from the time of his arrival in the 1880s until his death in the 1960s. Thrall documented the tent camps of the Great Hiking Age, worked on the Mount Lowe railroad, organized hiking clubs, and promoted conservation of mountain resources. Thrall also edited "Trails Magazine" and authored a weekly column for the "Los Angeles Times". He photographed historic mountain cabins, identified geologic formations, and discovered lost pioneer routes and Indian Trails. Thrall's life is a study in southern California itself--and the lasting traditions that form the mountain backdrop to the valley below.
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I am thankful to the institutions, organizations and many scholars who have provided advice and support toward the completion of this biography. Their encouragement regarding a relatively overlooked historical figure such as Will Henry Thrall certainly speaks of their commitment to broaden our appreciation of southern California's past. I once asked my high school class to write an essay on the most important advice they had ever received. One student wrote that his father told him to aspire to do three things in life: plant a tree, write a book, and have a child. To accomplish things that endure beyond a lifetime is certainly what Will Thrall intended in his pursuit of the San Gabriels. I hope the result of my eight years of research and study of William Henry Thrall does justice to his seven decades of mountain contributions.
Ronald C. Woolsey
Ronald C. Woolsey is the author of the critically acclaimed "Migrants West: Towards the Southern California Frontier." He has been a classroom instructor for over thirty years, currently teaches History at an Orange County high school, and is a faculty member at Citrus College and El Camino College.
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