Today In History: Yosemite Established

Today In History |

October 1, 1890


Today in 1890, the US Congress passed an act that established Yosemite National Park. The law was a result of efforts by John Muir and peers to move Congress to protect the area. President Benjamin Harrison signed the law, establishing Yosemite as a protected area.

Yosemite National Park is located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. It was untrammeled ground, aside from Native American residents, until the Gold Rush brought thousands of white settlers to the area. Tourists followed closely on their heels.

Yosemite became a hobby horse of the era's conservationists, who pressured Abraham Lincoln to declare the area a public trust of California. In 1872, Yosemite became the country's first national park.


Then, John Muir noticed that the meadows around Yosemite Valley were being ruined by domestic sheep flocks. The meadows, unlike the valley, enjoyed no government protection. Muir started lobbying to make the entire area a national park.

The next year, Congress designated 1,500 square miles as the new, expanded Yosemite National Park. In 1906, Yosemite Valley and the nearby Mariposa Grove were transferred to federal jurisdiction.

Yosemite is, today, one of California's biggest tourist attractions. It enjoys over three million annual visits.

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Matt lives in Southern California. He is interested in politics, history, literature and the natural world.