ABSTRACT

EARLY HISTORY The Valley of Yosemite-Indian for "great full-grown grizzly bear," but called Ahwahnee, "deep grassy valley in the heart of the sky mountain," by the Ahwahneechee tribe of Indians who lived there-was seen by the Joseph \'\Talker party in 1833. It was doubtless also seen by some miners in the gold rush in 1849, but little was known of it until 1851, when a battalion of men under James Savage invaded the Valley to punish the Yosemite Indians who, after suffering many acts of cruelty and injustice at the hands of miners, had retaliated by burning three trading posts and killing several men. As in Yellowstone, the land belonged to the Indians, and the whites proceeded to drive them out, killing many of them in the process. When the Indians were gone, miners

and settlers began to trickle into the Valley. In 1855 James M. Hutchings organized the first party of sightseers to enter the Valley; in 1856 the Mariposa trail was completed; the next year Galen Clark settled on the South Fork of the Merced at Clark's Station (now Wawona); and in 1857 a man named Cunningham built the "Lower Hotel." Two years later James C. Lamon located a homestead claim at the head of the Valley, built a log cabin and planted an orchard; and in 1860 an "enterprising citizen" tried to organize a grand lottery scheme to raffie titles to the land in the Valley, but the scheme failed. By some miracle no clear land titles were secured in the Valley before 1864, when the federal government turned it over to the state and so eliminated all chance of filing claims.l

Up to about this time, most people in the East knew nothing of Yosemite, or, indeed, of much of the West except that there was gold in California; their idea of grand scenery was Mammoth Cave ("the largest cave in the world"), Niagara Falls, Natural Bridge,

and the Adirondack Mountains. In 1859, however, Horace Greeley visited Yosemite Valley, which he pronounced "the most unique and majestic of nature's marvels," and the next year and in early 1861 the Boston Evening Transcript published eight articles by Thomas Starr King which aroused a great deal of interest. A number of photographs were taken during these years, and Albert Bierstadt, the famous painter, made a visit to the Valley in 1863 and painted a picture of it which Easterners found impressive. In 1863 the great landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, visited the Valley and was soon busy with plans for making it a public park for all the people.2