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“Christmas Eve in the Sierra Nevada”

“There comes to each a season,
When way selfish dreams must give,
To love: the soul of reason,
That an unborn child may live.”
Jerry D. Babb (1948–), American poet. The Crimson Thread

Translated into English, the Spanish words sierra (mountain chain, mountain range, chain of mountains) and nevada (snow-covered, snow-capped, snowy) combine to produce "snow-capped mountain range." Padre Pedro Font, who in April of 1776 on the second de Anza expedition observed the snowy peaks in the distance, is credited with creating the appellation, Sierra Nevada. The most common nickname, "Range of Light", was coined by John Muir who, in 1894, wrote in The Mountains of California:

“Looking eastward from the summit of Pacheco Pass one shining morning, a landscape was displayed that after all my wanderings still appears as the most beautiful I have ever beheld. At my feet lay the Great Central Valley of California, level and flowery, like a lake of pure sunshine, forty or fifty miles wide, five hundred miles long, one rich furred garden of yellow Compositae. And from the eastern boundary of this vast golden flower-bed rose the mighty Sierra, miles in height, and so gloriously colored and so radiant, it seemed not clothed with light but wholly composed of it, like the wall of some celestial city. . . . Then it seemed to me that the Sierra should be called, not the Nevada or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light. And after ten years of wandering and wondering in the heart of it, rejoicing in its glorious floods of light, the white beams of the morning streaming through the passes, the noonday radiance on the crystal rocks, the flush of the alpenglow, and the irised spray of countless waterfalls, it still seems above all others the Range of Light.”

Situated between the Cascade Mountains to the north and the Mojave Desert to the south, the Sierra Nevada stretches roughly 400 miles in a SSE to NNW direction along the eastern border of the California Central Valley—a predominantly agricultural region extending throughout the central portion of the State, and forms the western boundary of the Great Basin—a vast, arid expanse of approximately 200,000 square miles which encompasses the majority of Nevada as well as portions of Idaho, Utah, and California. While the generally accepted southern boundary is Tehachapi pass (California State Highway 58), there exists considerable controversy as to the northern boundary; although the majority opinion holds the gap to the immediate south of Lassen Peak (Fredonyer Pass in Lassen County, California through which passes California State Route 36) as the line of demarcation between the Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Mountains.

Sundry geologists hypothesize that the longest mountain range in the United States originated approximately 150 million years ago (during the Jurassic Era) and was the culmination of two literally earth-shattering events: the collision of an island arc with the western coast of North America (the Nevadan orogeny) producing metamorphic rock and the coincidental formation of a subduction zone along the western edge of the continent resulting in massive granite batholiths.

Containing the highest peaks in the contiguous 48 states, the Sierra Nevada continues its rise heavenward. This abiding uplift, which is particularly prominent along its eastern side, has been and is the cause of significant earthquakes in the region. The elevation of the various peaks in the Sierra Nevada gradually increases from north to south reaching its apex with the highest mountain in the range, Mount Whitney (Elevation: 14,491' - 14,505'). Less than 100 miles from Mt. Whitney is located Badwater in Death Valley National Park which, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in the U.S.

The Sierra Nevada is well known for its significant snowfalls dating back to the infamous blizzard of 1846-1847 which stranded the Donner Party on the edge of Truckee Lake. With annual snowfall ranges from 400 to 450 inches (1010 to 1150 cm) across most locations, snowfall in the Sierra increases with elevation. It is not unusual at higher elevations to encounter as much as ten feet of snow on the ground for extended periods of time.

While it was gold that drew Europeans to the Sierra Nevada (the Mother Lode runs along part of the western slope of the range and the Comstock Lode is located on the eastern slope), the eastern foothills had long been home to the Paiute tribe with the Miwok tribe residing along the western flank. Trade between these tribes necessitated that they traverse mountain passes. One may yet discover obsidian arrowheads scattered throughout various of the mountain passes.

Although to early settlers (e.g., the Donner Party), who were California bound, a life-threatening and much dreaded obstacle, the Sierra Nevada now attracts millions upon millions of visitors each year who behold the region as a wondrous haven of relaxation and recreation. Home to three National Parks: Yosemite, Sequoia/Kings Canyon and Lassen Volcanic; nine National Forests: Lassen, Tahoe, Eldorado, Inyo, Sequoia, Sierra, Stanislaus, Plumas, and Toiyabe; two National Monuments: Devil's Postpile and Giant Sequoia; as well as Lake Tahoe, numerous lakes, rivers, and streams and various Wilderness Areas, including: John Muir, Ansel Adams, Domeland, Chimney Peak, Bright Star, and Dinkey Lakes, the Sierra Nevada serves as a magnet drawing mountain and rock climbers, whitewater rafters, boaters, hikers, skiers, fishermen, prospectors, campers, and nature lovers of all ages.

Gold may have been the bait which attracted multitudes to this rugged, treacherous region, but it was the unparalleled beauty of this spectacular range and its singular environs that compelled many to stay. Today, roads, trails, and footpaths wind and wend throughout the mountain passes and foothills. Numerous communities thrive along the mountain flanks while some hardy souls, who yet possess the pioneer spirit, have determined to dwell midst the crags and cliffs above which eagles soar and the heavens beckon.


“Christmas Eve in the Sierra Nevada”
Christmas Eve in the Sierra Nevada
“'Twas in a humble stable the King of Kings was born”

Oil on Canvas        Dimensions: 16" x 20"        Price: $7,500.00 USD       



Original Oil Painting
  • 16" x 20" or 406.4mm x 508.0mm (Height x Width)
  • Oils on Fredrix, Ultra-Smooth, Acid-Free, Acrylic-Titanium Primed, Stretched Cotton Canvas
  • Brushwork
  • Original Oil Painting
  • Unframed1
Quantity Available:
  • One2
  • $7,500.00
  • Complimentary when shipped to a destination within the USA
Artist Comments:
  • (Coming Soon)
  • The photographic representations of "Christmas Eve in the Sierra Nevada," which are displayed in various locations throughout this site, were effected by means of a FujiFilm FinePix 2800 Zoom digital camera with a resolution setting of 640 x 480 pixels. Although we craved and, therefore, experimented with higher resolutions, the resulting page load times proved insufferable to all but the most resolute of our visitors.
  • 1Inasmuch as frames are available in a virtually limitless diversity of compositions, descriptions, designs, and dimensions; that framing shops and specialists (genuine, fancied, and equivocal) abound; and that the framing of a painting is both a matter of individual sentiment as well as exceedingly subjective, I will not presume to interpose my opinion without the owner of the painting having bid me to so do. If thus invited, I will be pleased to proffer my personal intimations and counsel.
  • 2This is an original oil painting. As such, there can be only one.


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