John M. Nelson Conservancy
John M. Nelson Conservancy

                August 2022, Excerpt 





To the scholars of the Western Era, Till Goodan’s paintings are benchmarks of authenticity.  He was born Tillman Parker Goodan in Eaton, Colorado on March 27, 1896.

After moving to California in 1905 and settling on a little farm, Till spent much of his boyhood working on a cattle ranch.  There he developed his expertise as a calf roper and the skills of a working cowboy.

As a young man he worked for the famous Miller and Lux Ranch in California.  He packed mules and ran pack trains into the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  He broke horses and competed in local rodeos riding saddle broncs and roping calves.  And during the quiet hours he would draw pictures of ranch life and the action of the rodeo.  People began commenting on his talents as an artist.

In 1917 he left the rodeo circuit and turned his full attention to a career in art.  He studied with several highly respected California artists.  Till soon became a free-lance commercial artist doing work for Grauman’s Chinese and Lowe’s Theaters, Helms Bakery and Security Bank.  He later assumed a position as Art Director for the Richfield Oil Company. However, his first love was still the art of the Old West, horses, cowboys, and ranching.  So, he left Richfield and gave his full attention to the field of fine arts.  By the 1930’s he was beginning to receive recognition for his western art and by the early 1940s, he was illustrating comic books for his longtime friend, Gene Autry.

Till Goodan spent his life in California.  He established a studio/home in Hollywood and over the years he owned a ranch near the town of Lebec, along with a mountain retreat at Camp Nelson in the Sierras.  He painted the California landscape, but, many of his paintings reflect his love for the Arizona and New Mexico desert.  His artwork was always authentic in every detail because he painted what he knew from first-hand experience.

He enjoyed his western lifestyle until the day he died.  On May 24, 1958, while serving as Grand Marshall of the Tulare County Rodeo, he succumbed to a heart attack while sitting on his horse.  Serious collectors seek out all of Till Goodan’s work.  He was a versatile artist whose love for the rodeo and the West was reflected in all of his work.

The street Goodan Court in Camp Nelson is named after Till Goodan.  The green with white trim art studio building is still noticeable at the cabin that he once owned. (look right as you are going up Poopalo Hill)

A lithograph of his painting “Range Baby” is on display in the John M. Nelson Conservancy/Museum Building.

The Conservancy Museum will be open on Saturdays during June, July and August.  Please stop-by and see us.  Open times are 11:00am to 3:00pm.  We have new historical pictures, artifacts and new stories to tell.

          Mark your calendars for the events at the Conservancy.  The Mountain Festival, sponsored by the JMNC and the Communities of the Giant Sequoias will occur August 6 & 7 in the meadow.  The annual LUAU dinner and silent auction to benefit The Camp Nelson Volunteer Ambulance Association and JMNC  will be on September 10th in the Conservancy Yard.

Donations from community members and cabin owners are our biggest source of funds.  The John M. Nelson Conservancy is a California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation and your donations are tax deductible.  We want to express our sincere thanks to all those who have donated to the Conservancy and thank you for your continued support.

AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible items to a charitable organization selected by the customers.  Your purchases can benefit John M. Nelson Conservancy.

Such purposes for why our corporation was organized are to acquire, preserve and maintain for public enjoyment those natural and historic features of the Upper Tule Region of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  We work closely with community members, Volunteer Fire Department, Camp Nelson Ambulance Association, Camp Nelson Chapel and the local businesses to promote the communities.  Please support your Conservancy and Museum.  You may send your contribution to 801 Highway 190, Box 110, Springville, CA 93265 or on the JMNC website.  Thank you.

As members of the conservancy, our common interests include the Meadow, Conservancy Yard, buildings and RV Park.  It takes the dedication of volunteers who serve willingly to insure that we preserve and maintain these areas for the enjoyment and use of the community and visitors.  Thank you to everyone that continuously serve.  If you are interested in helping, contact any JMNC Board Member.

The Camp Nelson RV Park is open and accepting reservations.  Call 559.542.2471 for information.

The Meadow Trail begins at the gate by Nelson Drive and Smith Drive.  Go inside the gate and follow the signs around the meadow for a half mile stroll.

The JMNC Live Streaming Webcams with views of the meadow and conservancy yard can be accessed on the Conservancy website.  

A new Wifi extender system has been installed and there is now good coverage for guests while in the meadow.

We invite you to check the current weather conditions in real time by using the Weather Underground app on your smart phone or go to on your computer.  Our station’s designation is “KCACAMPN10”.

Visit our website to volunteer, make a donation, read the monthly Conservancy Article, buy a memorial brick, or purchase a copy of “The Tule River Middle Fork and its People written by Malcolm Sillars.  Read about the Tule River communities on the middle fork and see for yourself the history of this wonderful mountain home for many people.  Here is an excerpt from Chapter Eight of the book for your enjoyment: 

Chapter Eight; Nellie Marshall, Les Bailey and Cedar Slope.

”Because she came from Visalia she undoubtedly came to this location by the Jordan Trail and probably came from the Jordan trail by way of the McIntyre Trail that came by the western edge of the property.  One report is that she kept sheep there in the summer.  It is not likely that she was there in the winter and it is not clear how many summers she remained there.  But, the land is identified as hers in the 1892 Historical Atlas Map of Tulare County.  The stream that runs through the property to the Tule River is Marshall Creek.  The land was patented to her in March 1894.”   Page 109, 110.

For more current information and events, you can follow us on Facebook at

       We invite you to attend our monthly Board meetings on the second Saturday of each month at 8:00AM in the Conservancy building; 388 Smith Drive, Camp Nelson.  The next meeting will be August 13, 2022. 

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