June 30, 1864
During the height of the Civil War, Pres. Abraham Lincoln turns his gaze westward, granting Yosemite Valley to California — with specific orders to preserve it for future generations of Americans.
“I have seen persons of emotional temperament stand with tearful eyes, spellbound and dumb with awe, as they got their first view of the Valley from Inspiration Point, overwhelmed in the sudden presence of the unspeakable, stupendous grandeur.”
The first guardian of the Yosemite Grant, Galen Clark, helped oversee the land known later as Yosemite National Park. Yosemite was the name of the local Native American tribe in the area.
The Early Years
- The Gold Rush led to conflict between settlers and Native American tribes.
- A “Yosemite Board of Commissioners” was named to both preserve the land and make it accessible for recreation.
- 1865: The man responsible for designing NYC’s Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted, filed a report on Yosemite Valley & the nearby “Big Tree Grove” of giant sequoia trees, raising concerns about how visitors impact the area.
“Nearly all the park is a profound solitude. Yet it is full of charming company, full of God’s thoughts, a place of peace and safety amid the most exalted grandeur and eager enthusiastic action, a new song, a place of beginnings abounding in first lessons on life, mountain-building, eternal, invincible, unbreakable order; with sermons in stones, storms, trees, flowers, and animals brimful of humanity.”
Naturalist John Muir
By the 1870s, concerns flourished over whether too many visitors were impacting Yosemite. Muir was one of the many voices who argued (successfully) for Yosemite to become a national park in 1890 — the 3rd in the nation after Yellowstone & Sequoia. However, Yosemite Valley wasn’t integrated into the park until 1906.
In 1900, Yosemite saw its 1st automobile; for years, debates swirled over whether cars should be allowed into the park. At first, visitors who entered Yosemite Valley via car had to park after entering and couldn’t use their cars until departure. As fewer people arrived by rail, the park eased up car regulations & built more roads.
Yosemite: CLICK HERE
Galen Clark: CLICK HERE
History: CLICK HERE
by Jenna Lee,