Camp Sierra is as rich in history as it is in natural beauty. When the west was very young, Mono, Piaute and Yokut Indian tribes gathered and traded on the grounds beneath the same granite cliffs that today surround Camp Sierra’s camp and conference facilities.
Many early Sierra settlers seeking gold found greater rewards in cattle and lumber. Recognizing the area’s growing recreational potential, the Carlson Hotel & Resort was built in 1880. Years later, the San Joaquin & Eastern Railroad, or the SJ&E, was built to support the construction of the dams to create Huntington Lake and the nearby Big Creek hydroelectric facility by the Southern California Edison Company.
The Carlson Resort, which would later become Camp Sierra, was a key location near the terminal end of the SJ&E rail line. The railroad’s precipitous grades and over 1,100 curves soon converted its abbreviated name to Slow, Jerky and Expensive.
About 1916, the Carlson Hotel was offered for sale. A group of ministers, seeking a meeting place for study and fellowship, pooled their resources and purchased the resort and in 1917, Camp Sierra was born.