It might not look like much, but that brown lump off in the distance could be Stockton’s greatest contribution to geology.
I spotted the Machado Postpiles while hiking northeast of Silver Lake last Thursday. I recognized them immediately from this Sierra Club website explaining their origin.
The site relies on a 1997 column by my colleague, Mike Fitzgerald. Mike writes that 24-year-old Jesse Machado was hiking cross-country in 1934 when he stumbled on a strange rock formation consisting of thousands of hezagonal columns thrusting upward at the base of a cliff. The formation ended up being older than, and larger than, the famed Devils Postpile near Mammoth.
But Machado kept it quiet for a long time. He didn’t want anyone spoiling the place.
Machado worked at Camp Silver Lake and, late in life, lived in a Stockton trailer park. He died in 1992. Silver Lake residents later petitioned the federal government to name the formation in his honor.
So there you have it. The story behind the strange, brown lump.
Determined visitors can find the place, although there is no developed trail. Here’s what the route looks like.