Tie Sing was born in the mountains. The mountains were in his blood. But because he was of Chinese descent at a time in America when to be Chinese meant working in restaurants or laundries, Tie Sing’s prospects were limited. But he had bigger plans. He began cooking for mapmakers and soon built a reputation as the best trail cook in California.
When millionaire Stephen Mather began his quest to create a national park service in 1915, he invited a group of influential men—writers, tycoons, members of Congress, and even a movie star—to go camping in the Sierras. Tie Sing was hired to cook.
Tie Sing planned diligently. He understood the importance of this trip. But when disaster struck—twice!—and Tie Sing’s supplies were lost, it was his creative spirit and quick mind that saved the day. His sumptuous menus had to be struck and Tie Sing had to start over in order to feed the thirty people in the group for ten whole days. His skills were tested and Tie Sing rose to the challenge.
On the last night, he fed not just the campers' bodies, but also their minds, reminding them to remember and protect the mountains.
2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, created by Congress on August 25, 1916.
Today, you can hike to Sing Peak, named for Tie Sing, in Yosemite National Park.
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About the Author
Rich Lo is the author and illustrator of Father’s Chinese Opera (Sky Pony Press), an honor title for the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in the Picture Book Category.
Read an Excerpt
Tie Sing was a frontier baby, born high in the mountains in Virginia City, Nevada. Growing up, he breathed crisp Sierra air and scuffed through sagebrush. He learned to write in both Chinese and English.
America was a tough place to be Chinese. Bosses paid Chinese workers less than white workers. Townsfolk spat out Chinese names like they'd swallowed river gravel. Most people with Chinese names ended up cooking in restaurants or washing clothes in laundries. Tie Sing, though, had American dirt under his fingernails—and dreams as big as the country he loved. Cramped shacks weren't for him. He made plans—big plans.