Honoring the Past

As we gather at Camp Pollock, we respectfully acknowledge that we are on the ancestorial homeland of Sacramento’s Indigenous peoples. We recognize and honor the first peoples who lived along the American River, including the Miwok and Nisenan peoples, and those who have lived on and stewarded the land from time immemorial. We commemorate the bravery and resiliency of their descendants. With great humility and gratitude, SVC strives to respect the wisdom of the original land stewards and their reciprocity to the land.

The Last 100 Years

Sacramento’s population in the 1920s numbered some sixty-six thousand and was experiencing a new vitality following WWI and the 1918 flu epidemic. It was at the beginning of that decade that local residents formed the Sacramento Lions Club. In 1922, as the City approached it’s 73rd anniversary, one of the Lions Club board members, Fred Johns, proposed a project creating a camp and lodge for the use of the Boy Scouts. In that same year, the City planned to hold an event celebrating the Gold Rush days called “Days of ‘49” to encourage business and tourism and to unite various political factions. The Lions took advantage of this event, held from May 23-28, 1922 by constructing a re-creation of an old time gambling casino they named “Slippery Gulch.” The fundraiser netted $4,942, donated to the Boy Scouts fund for the lodge construction; the Lions collected additional “assessments” from their members and raised an additional $5,000 so that the lodge could be turned over the Boy Scouts free of charge.

To further the establishment of a Boy Scout Lodge and camp, Carl E. Johnston, Lions Club member and son of North Sacramento Land Company (NSLC) founder D.W. Johnston donated one acre of property on the American River, near it’s confluence with the Sacramento River. The land was deeded to the Boy Scouts on May 4th, 1922. Once the land and initial funding were secured, the Lions Club continued to raise funds and worked with various labor and business interests in the community to complete the project.

A local architect designed the building, drawing up plans and specifications. A contractor worked on site free of charge, and materials, including rocks for the fireplace, collected in nearby Folsom, and lumber, nails, cement and fixtures were either donated or provided at very low cost. The official dedication of the completed debt free site and lodge took place in June, 1923.

In 1937, George G. Pollock, an active leader of the Golden Empire Council of Boy Scouts donated 10 acres of land adjacent to the existing lodge property. The site was subsequently renamed in his honor. His construction firm, George Pollock & Company, built many of the bridges that cross the American River and Sacramento River, including the iconic Tower Bridge.

myrtle lodge in black and white

From 1953-1971, Myrtle Johnston was president of the North Sacramento Land Company and helped bring youth from the community to experience hands-on learning at Camp Pollock and what would later become the American River Parkway. Myrtle was the first private landowner to help establish the Jedediah Smith Memorial Bicycle Trail. She provided the vision, the leadership, and the land for the heart of the Parkway–the undisputed jewel of Sacramento.

Myrtle Johnston’s November 1961 letter about the American River Parkway

Myrtle Johnston’s grandson, Robert Slobe, was a founder and the first president of the Sacramento Valley Open Space Conservancy in 1990. The land trust was established to preserve, protect, and/or enhance open space in the Sacramento Valley area. Slobe remains an active and outspoken advocate for conserving the American River Parkway and North Sacramento. He became president of the North Sacramento Land Company in 2009 when his mother retired. Slobe served on the board of SVC from 1990-2017.

collage of historic photos

The Boy Scouts of America managed Camp Pollock until 2013 when it was sold to the California State Lands Commission. The North Sacramento Land Company and the Sacramento Valley Conservancy (SVC) facilitated the transfer. SVC holds a long-term lease to manage the historic site until 2048. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation approved a low interest loan for $500,000 to SVC to renovate the lodge while maintaining much of its original look and feel. Visitors can now enjoy a remodeled lodge with ADA-access, wraparound porch, covered river deck, community courtyard with native plant garden, and camp lawn. Support from local donors and thousands of hours of volunteer community service allow SVC to maintain and improve the 11-acre site.

On October 22, 2015, the lodge was dedicated to one of the original founders of the American River Parkway and renamed the Myrtle Johnston Interpretive Center. In 2020 SVC began a site improvement plan to the lawn funded largely by a $176,000 grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board. The plan included the addition of over a mile of trails, an acre of native plants, educational signs, enhanced public access, and water-efficient landscaping. In 2021, SVC established a Native Plant Nursery and Demonstration Gardens, to help provide our community with native plants.

The Next 100 Years

SVC is proud to continue the Johnston, Pollock, and Scout traditions by managing the property for public use, conservation, education, and outdoor recreation.

During 2024-2026, projects will include the construction of a riverview platform, improved river access trail, murals, a kitchen remodel and new roof on the lodge.

But we can’t do it alone. Maintaining and improving this community space takes a village. Please consider joining the long legacy of Camp Pollock by volunteering, donating, and renting space for your next event.

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