The McGee Story

Alney Lee “Allie” McGee, the original settler for whom this area is named, was born 1840 in the state of Tennessee of ranching parents who were fiercely imbued with the old pioneer spirit. There were two other brothers, Barton and John and with these little cow-pokes in tow, the McGee family left Tennessee and migrated to Texas; Tennessee apparently being too civilized. They raised cattle profitably in Texas until a bad drought year when they picked up their belongings and headed for California. Santa Barbara was their destination. There Allie received his animal husbandry education.

Allie married and took his family on a trek to the Owens Lake country, just south of Lone Pine. They worked on up the valley until they reached Aurora. Passing through Benton (now called Old Benton) he was informed by native Piutes that he was the first ‘white’ man to come through there.

When Aurora’s gold boom waned, the McGees crossed the valley and started down through what is now Bridgeport, Mono Lake, Lee Vining, June Lake and into the present Long Valley. There had been many Indian fights and the McGee’s pressed on until they reached Fort Independence. Upon arrival there they were greeted coolly by the Union soldiers, the McGee’s being southerners.

Fondly remembering the Long Valley area, they started back. Approaching Big Pine, Indians attacked them and their only colored helper, Charlie Taylor, was slain. At the site there is a type of monument called Charlie’s Butte. After the skirmish, the McGees continued on to Long Valley which was entirely owned at the time by T.B. Rickey who was grazing thousands of head of cattle. Allie, because of experience and education, was hired as foreman, and the family lived in a home just below the present Lodge site.

During their stay here the famous Convict Lake episode occurred. About 15 prisoners escaped the Nevada Penitentiary and headed here, Deputy Sheriff Morrison from Benton led a posse pursuing the escapees. Allie joined the search and later, after Morrison was killed, took charge of the posse. Mt Morrison was named in honor of the slain deputy. The escapees, because of their ruthlessness, were all hanged near Bishop.

The T. B. Rickey ranch was sold to Harold Eaton (son of former Mayor of Los Angeles, Fred Eaton). McGee remained many years as foreman, finally moving his family to Santa Monica. State Senator Karl Keough bought the McGee Creek property and began construction of the Lodge and cabins in 1929. It was completed in 1931.