[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
81°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
October 20
1873 - Santa Barbara lawyers Charles Fernald and J.T. Richards purchase Rancho San Francisco for $33,000 (75 cents an acre) in a sheriff's sale [story]


Commentary by Linda Castro
| Thursday, Nov 23, 2017
Figure 5.
 

Traveling through our desert, one often sees roadside markers that are typically constructed of concrete or rocks with a metal plaque on the top or front. Some are marked with the letters “ECV” on the back or on the ground.

If you take the time to stop and read these plaques, you will discover that many of them were erected by an organization called E Clampus Vitus, often times in cooperation with a federal land management agency or other groups.

Seeing this name on so many roadside plaques in the desert can only cause a curious person to wonder – what is E Clampus Vitus? What does the name of the organization mean? What is the history of this organization? What is its mission?

Figure 1

When you start looking for the answers to these questions, you soon learn there are not too many straight answers. To begin with, nobody claims to know what the name of the organization means. The name is apparently made-up, nonsensical words. Not surprisingly, their motto is Credo Quia Absurdum, which, in Latin, roughly translates to “I believe because it’s absurd.”

If you try to research the history of the organization, you will find some interesting details – most of which are obviously tall tales, due to their absurdity. One is that the organization started with Adam in the Garden of Eden, claiming that the “unimpeachable unwritten works of St. Vitus (say that the organization) was founded by our Clampatriarch Adam himself in the Garden of Eden, and that the original Staff of Relief, which figures so greatly in the Clamper ritual, was a branch that Adam broke from the Tree of Knowledge and smuggled out with him, hidden beneath his apron, when he was driven from Eden.”

Figure 2

At least a handful of facts appear to be undisputed about the organization. It is a nonprofit historical organization with chapters in eight western states, although they are not well-known outside of California. Members of the fraternal organization are called Clampers, and the chapter presidents are given the ceremonial title of Noble Grand Humbug. They claim their purpose is to be a historical drinking society or a drinking historical society, the debate over which has never been resolved. They describe their objectives as “taking care of the widows and orphans, but especially the widows.”

Figure 4

The organization requires potential Clampers to have “a sense of humor, an interest in Western history, an open mind, and a cast-iron stomach.” If a man has those qualities and strikes up a friendship with a Clamper or two, they may invite him to join the organization. This invitation will be extended only once, and if it is refused, it is never tendered again.

It appears as though E Clampus Vitus was brought to California in the mid 1800s. The first attempt at establishing a lodge in modern-day Placerville failed, but a second attempt to do so finally caught on at Mokelumne Hill (approximately 50 miles southeast of Sacramento). The organization became popular because it afforded the young men at the mines with a perfect excuse for horseplay. Furthermore, it ridiculed the stuffy secret fraternal, benevolent and political societies such as the Masons, Odd Fellows, and in the mid-1850s, the Know-Nothings, which were so important in the Gold Rush days.

The Clampers’ work can be seen throughout our desert. If you visit Burro Schmidt tunnel in the El Paso Mountains, you will see one of their markers at the entrance of the tunnel (Figure 1). While cruising along Route 66 east of Amboy, you will see a marker along this longest stretch of undeveloped Route 66 that highlights the history of the route and its demise (Figure 2). Off-roading groups that make trips on the Mojave Road, will come across remnants of the Southern Nevada Railway that have a marker erected next to them at the intersection of the Mojave Road with Lanfair Road in the Mojave National Preserve (Figure 3). A plaque marking the Harry Wade Exit Route, used by a group that escaped the fate of the 1849 caravan (also known as the Death Valley 49er’s), can be found on Highway 178 between Baker and Death Valley National Park (Figure 4). The Clampers have also been part of the plaques that have been placed at each of the World War II training camps in our desert, such as Camp Iron Mountain and Camp Rice which are both found along Highway 62 between Twentynine Palms and the California-Arizona border (Figure 5).

Figure 5

There are many more E Clampus Vitus markers to be found throughout our desert. The Clampers claim to have plaqued hundreds of places “from ghost towns to saloons, from bordellos to ranchos, from heroes to madmen.” The next time you visit or pass by a somewhat obscure place that has some kind of historical importance and see a small marker with a plaque, more than likely, E Clampus Vitus had some part in putting it there.

One might come to the conclusion that these drunken “frat boys” are merely a bunch of lunatics who belong to an organization just to have an excuse to get together and drink. Perhaps that is true for a number of them, but they seem to have a passion for history and educating and inspiring others about it, which is a great goal and accomplishment if you ask me.

 

Linda Castro is a nature enthusiast and animal lover. She is the Assistant Policy Director for the California Wilderness Coalition and serves on the board of the SCV-based Community Hiking Club.  Her commentaries relate to California’s deserts.

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

3 Comments

  1. George Palmer says:

    The Clampers had a “clubhouse” in a little (hydraulic) mining enclave called Humbug in what is now known as Malakoff Diggings near Bloomfield CA in the mountainous area near Nevada City, Local lore describes the social group as an mild protest reaction of the mostly poorly paid miners to the mine owners who had become massively wealthy during the CA gold rush. Perhaps a place to “blow off a little steam” at the end of a long, hard workday.

  2. George Palmer says:

    Re. My previous comment, The town name I posted was Bloomfield, CA…..it is actually N. Bloomfield. Sorry.

  3. I have checked your website and i’ve found
    some duplicate content, that’s why you don’t rank high in google, but there
    is a tool that can help you to create 100% unique content, search
    for; Boorfe’s tips unlimited content

Leave a Reply


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Thursday, Oct 18, 2018
It makes good sense to review your coverage each year. Make sure your plan still is a good fit for you in terms of cost, coverage, and quality.
Thursday, Oct 4, 2018
Local entrepreneurs, industry leaders and business owners are looking for employees who can communicate clearly, whether writing or speaking; effectively collaborate on teams; and quickly make decisions that benefit both the company and its customers.
Tuesday, Oct 2, 2018
Canyon Country is known as a major residential area in our City, as well as a popular commercial and retail spot.
Monday, Oct 1, 2018
In her message for October 2018, Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste invites the community to the annual State of the City Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Thursday, Oct. 25, at 11:30 a.m.
Wednesday, Sep 26, 2018
Not being able to record and document what Knight and Hill stated during the debate makes it difficult for our community to hold both of them accountable to what they say.
Friday, Sep 14, 2018
Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage have different benefits and costs that you should consider based on your personal needs. Medicare open enrollment season runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, and it’s a good idea to know how the two types of Medicare work before you select one.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1873 - Santa Barbara lawyers Charles Fernald and J.T. Richards purchase Rancho San Francisco for $33,000 (75 cents an acre) in a sheriff's sale [story]
The annual "Fun in the Sun" Chili Cook-Off staged by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to benefit the Special Olympics is set for Saturday, Oct. 20 from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. at the Jack Bones Equestrian Center in Castaic.
Oct. 20: LASD ‘Fun in the Sun’ Chili Cook-Off to Benefit Special Olympics
College of the Canyons administrators alerted students and faculty Friday morning to a report of an unwanted sexual encounter Thursday in a COC restroom.
Unwanted Sexual Encounter Reported at COC
Brian O’Connor has been promoted to vice president brand and corporate communication at Santa Clarita-based Princess Cruises.
Princess Cruises Ups O’Connor to VP Brand, Corporate Communications
Santa Clarita City Councilmembers on Tuesday night will discuss how to respond to county planners' request that developers consider a homeless shelter in Phase II of the proposed Tesoro del Valle housing project just north of city limits.
Oct. 23: City to Weigh Response to County Idea for Tesoro Homeless Shelter
The Santa Clarita City Council will hold its next meetings at City Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 23.
Oct. 23: Santa Clarita City Council Regular, Special Meetings
The National Weather Service issued an urgent red flag warning at 3 p.m. Friday that will remain in effect in the Santa Clarita Valley until 10 p.m. due to gusty Santa Ana wind and low humidity.
Red Flag Warning Flies Till 10 Friday Night
The registration deadline to vote in the Nov. 6 General Election is Monday, Oct. 22, at 11:59 p.m.
Oct 22: Last Day to Register to Vote in Nov. 6 Election
In less than three weeks, California’s 19 million voters will decide a slate of midterm ballot measures aimed at easing the state’s affordable housing crisis, but not all initiatives may bring residents the relief they seek.
State Voters Eye Ballot Measures for Solutions to Housing Crisis
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, Oct. 23, starting at 9:30 a.m.
Oct. 23: LA County Board of Supervisors Meeting
Lane closures on Soledad Canyon Road due to film-related activity near the Saugus Speedway will begin at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday and end at approximately 4 a.m. Wednesday, according to an alert from the city of Santa Clarita.
Lane Closures on Soledad for Filming Set for Tuesday Night
Night work on the city of Santa Clarita's Sierra Highway pedestrian bridge project will take place at the construction site on Sierra Highway north of Golden Valley Road on Tuesday, Oct. 23, from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Oct. 23: Night Work on New Sierra Highway Pedestrian Bridge
East LA College will visit Cougar Stadium Saturday night, and all SCV youth football and cheer teams — Santa Clarita Cowboys, Grizzlies, Spartans, Vikings, Warriors, Wildcats and teams from other parks and recreation programs — are invited to attend the game free of charge when wearing a school jersey or uniform.
COC Invites SCV Youth Football, Cheer Programs to Saturday’s Game
To increase awareness about school bus safety among motorists, parents, teachers and students, the California Highway Patrol will observe National School Bus Safety Week Oct. 22-26.
Oct. 22-26: CHP Rides with School Bus Safety Week
Oct. 21-27 is National Teen Driver Safety Week, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department wants to remind parents and guardians the importance of talking to their teen drivers about new responsibilities and rules that come with operating a vehicle.
Oct. 21-27: LASD Rolls with National Teen Driver Safety Week
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies arrested a Long Beach man on multiple charges for weapons and drugs earlier this week, according to officials.
SCV Deputies Arrest Long Beach Man in Gorman on Multiple Charges
1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]
The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation presents its latest “Recreation After Dark” event, “Goin’ Country at Hart.”
Oct. 19: Goin’ Country at Hart to Feature Moldy Marvin, Highway 138
ARCADIA, Calif. — On Wednesday, Jerry Perez officially reported to the Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, where he will serve as the new Forest Supervisor, replacing Jeff Vail, who accepted the position of deputy director for Recreation, Heritage and Volunteer Resources in the Forest Service’s Washington Office.
New Angeles National Forest Supervisor Excited About New Position
Le Chene French Cuisine has announced that they will be hosting two special events coming to you in November.
Le Chene Invites Residents to November Celebrations
The Valencia High School Marching Band and Color Guard held their first major fundraising event for their band season.
Valencia High School Marching Band Appreciates Support from Community
The city of Santa Clarita will present three music-related sessions at the 2018 Arts Symposium at The Centre on Saturday, Oct. 20.
Oct. 20: Art Symposium to Stage 3 Music Sessions
It makes good sense to review your coverage each year. Make sure your plan still is a good fit for you in terms of cost, coverage, and quality.
How to Shop for Medicare Plans | Commentary by Greg Dill
StarKist Co. has agreed to plead guilty for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices of packaged seafood sold in the United States, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.
StarKist Pleads Guilty to Price Fixing
The First Presbyterian Church of Newhall will be performing “The Green Velvet Christmas Dress.”
Newhall Church to Present ‘The Green Velvet Christmas Dress’
Decorated with fun embellishments such as puffy paint, tulle fabric, feathers and even bubble wrap, artist Georgette Arison’s mixed-media art in “Dressing Up is Fun,” the newest art exhibit at the Newhall Community Center, uses unconventional methods to showcase costume design.
‘Dressing Up is Fun’ Exhibit Now Showcasing at Newhall Community Center
Celebrating its 5th anniversary this year, the Santa Clarita Oktoberfest is a Southern California twist on the original Oktoberfest held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.
Oct. 19, 20: Santa Clarita Oktoberfest
College of the Canyons has been ranked No. 29 by the Hispanic Outlook on Education Magazine’s Top 100 colleges and universities list for graduating Hispanic students.
Hispanic Outlook Ranks COC No. 29 on Top 100 List
Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, a United States Air Force Thunderbirds pilot and a graduate of Saugus High School who died on April 4 during a routine aerial training flight in the Nevada Test and Training Range, lost consciousness before the fatal crash, according to a report released by the Air Force.
Report: Santa Clarita Thunderbirds Pilot Lost Consciousness Before Crash
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Monday an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to close 62 campground pit toilets, considered to be large capacity cesspools, at seven national forests across California.
Forest Service Forced to Close Cesspools in State’s National Forests
The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations (LACCHR) released its annual account Wednesday of hate crimes reported throughout Los Angeles County in 2017.
LA County Hate Crimes Continue to Rise
Sheriff Jim McDonnell has named Sergio Perez, a Los Angeles native, as his Constitutional Policing Advisor to assist the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) in sustaining reform and advancing justice for the diverse communities we serve.
LASD Names New Constitutional Policing Adviser
Every year, department members who perform acts of great courage and heroism, who go above and beyond the call of duty to save the lives of others while placing their own lives at risk, are honored and recognized at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Medal of Valor Awards Ceremony.
LASD Department Members, Private Citizens Recognized at Award Ceremony
1876 - Southern Pacific begins subdividing town of Newhall (original location at Bouquet Junction) [story]
The Probation Reform and Implementation Team met Wednesday to discuss a new mission and vision for the nation’s largest Probation Department, and consider an organizational structure that supports separate adult and juvenile probation operations in Los Angeles County.
County Officials Weigh Juvenile, Adult Probation Reform