On June 30, 1864, the United States was at war, with neighboring states pitted against each other in the nation’s bloodiest conflict. In the three preceding months, tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides perished at several battle sites, including Spotsylvania and Richmond.
Amidst the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln took his eyes briefly away from warfare to consider the forested California land of Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley.
By signing the Yosemite Land Grant bill, Lincoln put tracts of woodland in public trust and planted the seed of the national parks system. That signature brought together hundreds of citizens and a handful of officials Monday to wish Yosemite National Park a happy birthday and pay tribute to its past.
“On the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act, we stand in awe among these giant trees that are thousands of years old,” said Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, “and are reminded about the importance of protecting our natural resources so that future generations can experience what John Muir called ‘nature’s forest masterpiece.’” ...