“Shorty” Lovelace; a Sierra Voice Presentation by Jeff Young


Saturday, September 13th, 2014, the museums media room hosted one of their Sierra Voice Presentations. Presenter, Jeff Young, a Shaver Lake native and Central Sierra Historical Society Board Member, educated his audience on the life of a Sierra Nevada fur trapper, “Shorty” Lovelace.


Shorty loved the Sierra. In the mountains he 
not only felt at home, but often when he was among the pines he could 
escape the siren call of the bottle. By 1910, with the help of his 
brothers, Shorty had embarked on a career that tried to capitalize on 
these twin facts — he had become a fur trapper.

Each fall for the next three decades, Shorty would take a pack train into 
the mountains to cache supplies for his winter trapping. At the same 
time he often built tiny log cabins to serve as shelters. Many of these 
little cabins were no more than 6 by 10 feet on the ground and perhaps 
5-6 feet high. With a stone fireplace on one wall and a built-in bunk on 
the other, the cabins provided Shorty with snug protection from the 
Sierra’s winter snowstorms.

During the 1920s and 1930s Shorty trapped all over the southern two-
thirds of what is now Kings Canyon National Park. His preferred prey 
was the pine marten, a house-cat-sized member of the weasel family. 
He trapped in the winter because that was when the pelts of the 
animals he caught were at their best.

All this came to an end in 1940 when Congress created Kings Canyon 
National Park. Hunting and trapping were not allowed in the new park, 
and Shorty was forced to abandon his Kings Canyon trap-lines and 
move north to another part of the Sierra.

No one besides Shorty ever knew exactly how many cabins he built. 
Over the years we’ve found more than a dozen and others certainly 
existed. Shorty purposefully made the cabins hard to find for anyone 
but himself. Today, the National Parks Service preserves several of 
Shorty’s cabins, and the entire set is listed on the National Register of 
Historic Places.

Shorty would no doubt be amazed. What started out as nothing more 
than a way to stay sober and make a little pocket money is now part of 
America’s preserved cultural heritage.”


One comment

  1. Hi Jeff. My name is Suzanne Currie. Years ago I worked for the Forest Service based in Shaver Lake, and went out with Jeff Landis, Backcountry Ranger, on some horse & mule rides to locate Shorty’s cabins. We found 3, two of which hadn’t been found before. One was still locked up from when Shorty left it. We inventoried everything, sketched a bunch of stuff, and found all those extra wheel barrow wheels. Would love to get in touch.

Leave a Reply