National Park Service
Person of the Month


Clare Marie Hodges

Clare Marie Hodges was born in Santa Cruz, California in 1890.

She began teaching in the Yosemite Valley School in 1916. During World War I, Hodges heard about the difficulty the park was having finding men to work as rangers due to the demands of the war. In the spring of 1918, she applied to the superintendent, Washington B. Lewis, and said, "Probably you'll laugh at me, but I want to be a ranger." He responded, "I beat you to it, young lady. It's been on my mind for some time to put a woman on one of these patrols."

On May 22, 1918, Clare Marie Hodges became the first female ranger in the United States. Her job consisted of taking the gate receipts from Tuolumne Meadows to park headquarters, an overnight ride on horseback.

She was president of the literary society of the San Jose Normal School, her alma mater, and authored "Songs of the Trail."

She often said that her love of Mariposa County and the mountains, was the deciding factor in taking the job as lady ranger. Clare rode mounted patrol over the Valley trails and reported direct to the chief ranger.

Visitors were quite surprised to see a lady ranger with badge and full riding uniform.

Clare married Peter J. Wolfsen, a stockman, who lived near Mariposa. They took an active part in County activities. They worked with the Junior camp of the Seventh Day Adventist Camp at Wawona. Just recently a nature trail was dedicated in their name, "The Wolfsen Nature Trail."

Source: "Guardians of the Yosemite" (1961)
by John W. Bingaman

Last Updated: 20-Oct-2014