LUDLOW HUT HISTORY
Ludlow Hut: Bill Ludlow and the Construction of the Hut
This hut is named for William B. Ludlow (1930-1953), an ardent Sierra Club member whose love of skiing in general and ski touring in particular was matched by his love of the Tahoe area that he had known summer and winter for most of his 23 years. Bill Ludlow, a native of Berkeley, hiked as a teenager with friends in the Echo Lake-Desolation Valley areas and later travelled to Europe where he climbed the Matterhorn. His first ski experiences were at Clair Tappaan Lodge and from there he went on to enjoy many ski touring excursions. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 1952 with a degree in mechanical engineering and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. While stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, he was killed in 1953 in a tragic accident while instructing a class in the use of heavy equipment required to build airfields.
After his death, his family and friends decided that they would honor his memory to build a hut so that other skiers could share his joy of exploring the silent beauty of this snow covered wilderness. Construction of the hut during the summer of 1955 was financed with matching funds from the Sierra Club.
Letter Documenting 1955 Work Parties
Fifty years ago it was difficult to get all the supplies and equipment up to the construction site, and I remember the “road” as you approached Richardson Lake was really a rock-strewn trail that was very muddy in places. At that time only a few hikers or fishermen ever ventured up to that area during the rest of the year, and the hut was located a short distance away from the lake and hidden from view by many trees to discourage any curious summer visitors. Construction of the hut within a limited time schedule on a few summer weekends in such a remote location required a lot of planning. Sierra Club members provided expertise, resources, and valuable experienced help — especially Ned Robinson who did a great job organizing the logistics. If anything was forgotten, there was no last minute trip to a hardware store or a frantic cell phone call for assistance. The physical work was not easy, the weather was usually hot, and most of the workers who were Bill’s college friends had never been involved in a construction crew before.
Here is a copy of handwritten notes my father, William B. Ludlow, kept for each work party during the summer of 1955…
GROUND BREAKING / June 18, 1955
Mud and snow prevented automobile travel beyond Lily Lake, but food and equipment went to camp at Miller Lake via a fisherman’s jeep. Mission for weekend: laying out hut and digging all foundation trenches. Job was made considerably easier by lack of large rocks in foundation’s way. By 2:00 Sunday, mission accomplished.
Ned Robinson, Phil Faulconer, Merritt Robinson, Robin Robinson, Bert Talbert, Jack Richards, Howard D. Fellows, AI Silveria, Frank Harvey, Buff (?).
SECOND WORK PARTY / July 2, 3, & 4, 1955
Mission: form and pour all foundations to and including mud sills. Gravel obtained from other side of the lake and transported with surplus army dump truck. The luxuries of cement mixing were enjoyed thanks to a gas motor generator set supplying juice to an electric cement mixer. Bestor Robinson reliving Clair Tappan days as he supervised laying of rock on exterior foundation. Monday 4 pm mission accomplished.
Ned Robinson, Bestor Robinson, Phil Faulconer, Norme Ockru, Merritt Robinson, Bob Texdahl, Eva Schohl, Marjorie Dennis, Rachael Fontz, Howard Hornig, John Corgiat, Robin Robinson, Mardy Robinson & Kirk, Florence Ludlow.
THIRD WORK PARTY / July 23 & 24, 1955
A large number of Bill Ludlow Jr.’s fraternity brothers on hand to help bolt “A” frames together and hoist in place. “A” frames had been pre-drilled and pre-cut to facilitate rapid assembly. All of roof sheathing and some of end sheathing put on. Merritt Robinson and Jack Richards coming off Burro Trip on Saturday night to give a hand. The “army dump” (truck) doing yeoman service as a lumber carrier.
Ned Robinson, Ted Sawyer, Rose Papini, Don Reichert, Bestor Robinson, Duane Noignen, Phil Faulconer, Warren Danford, Bob Texdahl, John Corgiat, Robin Robinson, Merritt Robinson, Marian Richards, Jack Richards, Helen Rudy, Brooks Crawford, Florence Robinson, Neil P. Anderson, Jim Barrett, Tex Texdahl, Bob Hess, Florence Ludlow.
FOURTH WORK PARTY / August 6 & 7, 1955
Kids weekend — 5 under 2 years — livened the two days that saw floor poured, roof shingles go on & most of end sheathing installed. Ned and Brooks waking camp by shingling roof at 5:30am. Bestor hanging car up on rock on Richardson Lake Road. The weekend of the dead and smelly cows. After a hard day’s work, the truck loaded with tools and baby equipment went flying down the road when Merritt accidentally pulled the dump lever and everything was strewn along the road.
Ned Robinson, LaVerne Ludlow, Florence Robinson, Bestor Robinson, Howard Horning, Bob Texdahl, L.E. (Irish) McClure, Micky McClure, Donald Reichert, Merritt Robinson & Bruce, Robin Robinson, Gwen Reichert, Sue & Ann Reichert, Dick Chappelle, Ginnie Chappelle and Susan, Edward H. Grubb, John Corgiat, Brooks Crawford, Howard Fellows, Bob Hess.
FIFTH WORK PARTY / August 20 & 21, 1955
Three “old timers” from C.T.L. days — Bestor, Lewis & Larry — taught us young fellas how to do it. 2nd deck floor laid, most of end shingles installed. The one room started to take shape. Larry getting his ’55 Chev stuck on a rock — no damage. Insulation installed on end walls and wired with flexboard.
Ned Robinson, Merritt Robinson, Bester Robinson, Neil Anderson, Don Sundquist, Robin Robinson & Bruce, Polly Haseltine, Bob Texdahl, Bill Gordo, Larry Haseltine, Lewis F. Clark, John Corgiat, Mardy Robinson & Kirk.
SIXTH WORK PARTY / September 9, 10, & 11, 1955
Finishing touches. Stove and stock installed. Windows glazed. Doors hung and varnished. Lash shingles put on. First coat of green on floor.
Ned Robinson, Evelyn Mitchell, Howard B. Mitchell, William Dolter, Bob Texdahl, Richard Blumberg, Bill Bullrrnann, John Corgiat, Bester Robinson, Ted Sawyer, Merritt Robinson, laVerne Ludlow, Robin Robinson.
SEVENTH WORK PARTY / October 8 & 9, 1955
The final work party. Much cleaning up to do. The flexboard walls inside painted yellow. Bestor, the inside superintendent, connected the stove, installed the sink, completed two drainboard work tables, painted the floor. Ned kept all hands busy. The outside ladder installed, hardware on doors. Merritt declared “the john” an engineering marvel. First dinner on the stove Saturday night. Mardy, Kirk, and Florence (Robinson) slept on the second deck. Now Ludlow Hut is ready for the winter!
Ned Robinson, Mardy Robinson & Kirk, Howard Jory, Warren Robinson, Florence Robinson, Virginia McKay, Arthur Benson, Donald Huber, Richard Schroter, James Miller, W. R. Johnson, Jim Southwell, Darrell Southwell, Bob Frenkel, Merritt Robinson, Bester Robinson, Brooks Crawford, Florence Ludlow, La Verne Ludlow, John Linford, Louise Linford and Jim, Ann & Nancy Linford.