History of Yosemite National Park

History of Yosemite National Park
Featuring spectacular waterfalls, towering gray granite cliffs and a lush, green valley, Yosemite National Park is a natural wonder and a national treasure. It also has a rich and interesting history.

Early History

The first people to inhabit and frequent Yosemite Valley were the Ahwahnee tribe. Yosemite means "bear" in their language and was the name of one of their chiefs.

Discovery by Euro-Americans

The first Euro-Americans to see Yosemite Valley were a militia searching for the Yosemite tribe in 1851. Most of the Yosemite escaped without detection at first but were eventually captured.

First Expedition

The first expedition to visit Yosemite Valley for its beauty took place in 1855. It was organized by J.M. Hutchings after he had heard of the Valley's grand waterfalls.

First Preservation Land Grant

In June 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill that set aside Yosemite for preservation and granted it to the state of California. This was the first land grant of its kind.

John Muir

Naturalist John Muir advocated further protections for Yosemite Valley. He convinced Theodore Roosevelt to designate Yosemite as a national park, putting control of the Valley back into federal hands in 1906.

Yosemite Today

Yosemite National Park today encompasses 1,200 square miles and hosts 3.5 million visitors a year. It is the home of the elegant Ahwahnee Hotel, a national historical monument and top-rated vacation spot.

Article Written By Tanya Wyr

Tanya Wyr has 12 years experience as a professional writer and editor both in print and online. She has written for major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Macy’s and Mervyns. Wyr has also edited college-level textbooks. Wyr earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Minnesota in 1991.

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