This year, Yosemite National Park celebrates its 125th anniversary.
Yosemite was not the first national park. That honor belongs to Yellowstone, which, in 1872, became the world’s very first national park, eighteen years before Sequoia and Yosemite would join the exclusive club.
Yosemite does, however, have its own claim to historical fame. In response to concerns that commercial development could damage the exquisite natural beauty of the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of giant Sequoia trees, Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act of 1864. The act did not make Yosemite a national park. At the time, no such thing as a national park even existed. Anywhere. But it marked the first time any country had set aside a tract of land for the sole purpose of preserving it. What’s more, the Yosemite Grant created a blueprint for the process that would eventually allow the United States to create a series of national parks belonging to all its people. And once the US set the precedent, other countries around the world created national parks of their own.
Yosemite has scheduled the actual commemoration of this landmark event for October 1. But it has already posted a series of pages providing additional information about the park’s origination, a timeline of significant park dates, stories about Yosemite from people who have come to love the park over the years, and other events that we can all participate in before the big day.
However, let’s not all visit at the same time.