dispatches & explored

Forest Errata: Signage

There is a section of forest-goers who take special interest in the varied signage in yonder wood — the wooden routered signs, the old porcelain (enamel) signs, the arc-welded and flame-cut metal signs.

Indian Camp

Once and Future Signage


I tend to favor signs with blatant errors on them — ones that misspell proper nouns, common nouns, or even the word “Forest” (no, seriously, they’re out there).

The first time I noticed an error on a Los Padres sign I was 14, reading my brother’s worn copy of McTigue’s Santa Barbara mountain biking guide. The cover of that photo showed a group of 80s-era mountain bikers pedaling the Matias Potrero trail. The old wooden trail sign in the photo’s foreground read “Mattais Potrero.” Fun stuff! So in the years since, I’ve been keeping mental track of “typos” on Forest signage.

A very small sampling of my favorites:

Lily v Lilly & Cottriel v Coltrell

Main Camp

One of the most innocuous errors is the misspelling of “Lily” … it and “Coltrell” Flat (below) are examples of gaffes being reinforced by generations of maps reproducing the error. Lily Meadows was named for the flowers there (which are actually irises, but we digress). Cottriel Flat was — according to Durham — named for George W. Cottriel, who patented land there in 1891.

Also Burned

Gibraltar v Gibralter

Matias Junction

A common misspelling, and one repeated in many maps. ZK, in his inimitable style, commented that it would prove difficult to apply Wite-Out with a torch.

Mutau v Mutua

Johnston Ridge Trail (20W12)

… though the “correct” spelling itself appears to be a misspelling of “Mutah.” Photo courtesy Roy Ubu (Randall).

Pratt v Pratte

Ojai - Pratte Trail

I think the Ojai RD has removed this sign, given it wasn’t an “official” sign. Photo courtesy Dynamo Arcweld.

And then there’s the trailhead signs. At the Piedra Blanca and Reyes Creek trailheads and elsewhere, those beautiful multi-panel signs show Red Reef Canyon as “Red Rock Canyon” — a surprising error, given that they’re based on Tom Harrison’s map and that it’s spelled correctly on the paper editions.

Photo courtesy the Wicked Finn

One of the most guilty of signs is the old panel at the Temescal Station at Lake Piru. Riddled with misspellings, we’ve spotted at least seven “invividual” errors on that one.

(Further, the symbol set on the legend is wrong, confusing Developed and Undeveloped campgrounds.)

Those who revel in nitpicking such trivial things may also enjoy Deck and Herson’s adventures in the name of correcting typos across the Union. Funny stuff.

We’ll pick on cartographic typos down the line.

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