100 Years Ago at Mount Hermon

12 Jul

It’s summertime, and that means events at Mount Hermon Christian camp are in full swing. Nestled in the mountains of Santa Cruz, California, Mount Hermon is a place of quiet beauty, where people can renew and build on their relationship with Jesus Christ.

The train station at Zayanta Inn, Mount Hermon, California; 1915.

The train station at Zayanta Inn, Mount Hermon, California; 1915.

One hundred years ago, Isabella Alden was a frequent summer visitor at Mount Hermon. She and her husband Ross moved to the Santa Clara area in 1901. When Mount Hermon opened four years later, they were overjoyed to have a nearby place of rest and retreat similar to their beloved Chautauqua Institution.

The Lake at Mount Hermon, 1913.

The Lake at Mount Hermon, 1913.

Isabella Alden loved Mount Hermon, and she had many happy memories connected with it. She wrote:

I wish I could give you a picture of Mount Hermon, a blessed place where I have spent precious weeks living out under the great redwood trees. It was wild and quaint and beautiful.

Bean Creek at Mount Hermon, 1910.

Bean Creek at Mount Hermon, 1910.

As she had in the old Chautauqua days, Isabella spent as much time in the out of doors as possible at Mount Hermon:

Tent life seemed to belong to it as much as houses belong in most other places. We ate out of doors, and worked out of doors, and practically slept out of doors, with all the curtains of the tent looped high.

Giant California Sequoias.

Giant California Sequoias.

Nestled among the mammoth California redwoods of Mount Hermon, Isabella rested, read and worshipped.

Dr. James Gray, 1910.

Reverend James Gray, D.D., 1910.

Her spirit was fed by some of the world’s most prominent theologians who spoke at the camp: Dr. James Gray, dean of the Moody Bible Institute; evangelist Reuben Archer Torrey; and Reverend A. B. Pritchard of Los Angeles.

Reverend R. A. Torrey, 1907.

Reverend R. A. Torrey, 1907.

 

Reverend A. B. Pritchard, 1903.

Reverend A. B. Pritchard, 1903.

Isabella reveled in Mount Hermon’s program of Bible study. She immersed herself in classes about the Second Coming of Christ, and the Pentecost. She spent a week studying Colossians, and said afterward that she felt “as though I had a new Bible.”

An announcement in the San Francisco Call, July 13, 1906.

An inviting announcement in the San Francisco Call, July 13, 1906.

Amid all the conference meetings, presentations, and Bible studies, she found time for her own writing.

I had a little retreat where I used to take refuge when I wanted quiet for writing or study. It was the burned-out stump of a sequoia tree. The space left was forty feet in diameter with a wall of stump all around. New branches had formed and had climbed till they reached away up toward the sky, and interlaced overhead to form a room of green. The sequoia leaves are odorous and make a lovely soothing atmosphere in which to rest.

A giant Sequoia in nearby Calaveras Grove, California; 1902.

Giant Sequoia in nearby Calaveras Grove, California; 1902.

It was in this atmosphere that Isabella was inspired to write The Browns at Mount Hermon, which was published in 1907; and her experience at Mount Hermon even inspired her novel’s premise. During one specific summer, over 60 people with the surname Brown attended Mount Hermon; Isabella used that bit of trivia as the catalyst for a merry mix-up of people named Brown in her novel.

Cover of The Browns at Mount Hermon

Isabella cherished every lesson and every sermon she heard at Mount Hermon. Each summer for the remainder of her life—health permitting—she made the short trip to Mount Hermon, the beautiful place of worship and rest nestled in the mountains of Santa Clara.

Did you know Mount Hermon is still an active Christian camp and retreat? Find out more about Mountain Hermon by visiting their web site:

http://www.mounthermon.org/

Or visit Mount Hermon’s YouTube channel to see the latest videos of what’s going on at the camp:

https://www.youtube.com/user/MountHermon

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