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100th Anniversary of President Roosevelt at Yosemite

One hundred years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt looked out at the view from Glacier Point and exclaimed, “I wouldn´t miss this for anything…this is bully!”

Guided into the Yosemite wilderness by naturalist John Muir, the president went on a three-day wilderness trip that started at the Mariposa Grove, and included Sentinel Dome, Glacier Point, and Yosemite Valley among other points of interest in Yosemite National Park. Muir seized the opportunity “to do some forest good in talking freely around the campfire,” and the President, referring to John Muir, is quoted as saying “Of course of all the people in the world, he was the one with whom it was best worth while thus to see the Yosemite.”

Roosevelt and Muir camped the first night, May 15, at the Mariposa Grove under the Grizzly Giant, with the President bedding down in a pile of about 40 wool blankets, and the second night was spent in the vicinity of Sentinel Dome during a snow storm that left five inches of new snow on top of the existing five feet of snow. The third night of camping was at the edge Bridalveil Meadow in Yosemite Valley, where President Roosevelt was Muir´s captive audience to hear a convincing plea for Yosemite wilderness and for setting aside other areas in the United States for park purposes.

That night, during the campfire discussion, Muir´s main focus of conversation was not only the need for forest preservation but also his concern that the California State Grant of Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove, surrounded in 1892 by Yosemite National Park, be receded to the United States for inclusion in the park. Roosevelt agreed that two controls made for “triple troubles.” Eventually, their discussion prompted the Presidential signature on the Yosemite Recession Bill in June, 1906. This Joint Resolution accepted the recession by the State of California of the Yosemite Valley Grant and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove, now the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, which withdrew them from state protection and put them under federal protection, making them part of Yosemite National Park.

A renovation of the sign commemorating the site of the third night of camping was recently completed by long-time NPS volunteer Jack Phinney, who painstakingly re-grouted letters and repaired and repainted the wooden sign that had become worn and damaged over the years. The sign reads, “On this site President Theodore Roosevelt sat beside a campfire with John Muir on May 17, 1903 and talked forest good. Muir urged the President to work for preservation of priceless remnants of America´s wilderness. At this spot one of our country´s foremost conservationists received great inspiration.”

“There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias…our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children´s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred,” said Theodore Roosevelt.

During his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt signed into existence five national parks, 18 national monuments, 55 national bird sanctuaries and wildlife refuges, and 150 national forests.