Yosemite National Park (crs)
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Yosemite Valley has been inhabited for nearly 3000 years. Paiute and Sierra Miwok peoples lived in the area before the first explorations into the region by American settlers. A band of Native Americans called the Ahwahneechee lived in Yosemite Valley when the first non-indigenous people entered it. The California Gold Rush in the mid-19th century dramatically increased white travel in the area. United States Army Major Jim Savage led the Mariposa Battalion into the west end of Yosemite Valley in 1851 while in pursuit of around 200 Ahwahneechees led by Chief Tenaya as part of the Mariposa Wars. Accounts from this battalion were the first well-documented cases of Caucasians entering Yosemite Valley. Attached to Savage's unit was Dr. Lafayette Bunnell, the company physician, who later wrote about his awestruck impressions of the valley in The Discovery of the Yosemite. Bunnell is credited with naming Yosemite Valley from his interviews with Chief Tenaya. Bunnell wrote that Chief Tenaya was the founder of the Pai-Ute Colony of Ah-wah-nee. The Miwoks (and most white settlers) considered the Ahwahneechee to be especially violent because of their frequent territorial disputes, and the Miwok word "yohhe'meti" literally means "they are killers". Correspondence and articles written by members of the battalion helped to popularize Yosemite Valley, and the surrounding area. Tenaya and the rest of the Ahwahneechee were eventually captured and their village burned; they were removed to a reservation near Fresno, California. Some were later allowed to return to Yosemite Valley, but got in trouble after attacking a group of eight gold miners in the spring of 1852. The band fled eastward to Mono Lake, and took refuge with the nearby Mono tribe; but after stealing some horses from their hosts, the Ahwahneechees were tracked down and killed by the Mono Paiutes in 1853. In the attack Chief Tenaya was killed and the survivors were taken back to Mono Lake and absorbed into the Mono Lake Paiute tribe. A reconstructed "Indian Village of Ahwahnee" is now located behind the Yosemite Museum, which is next to the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center. In 1855, entrepreneur James Mason Hutchings, artist Thomas Ayres and two others were the first to tour the area. Hutchings and Ayers were responsible for much of the earliest publicity about Yosemite, creating articles and entire magazine issues about the Valley. Ayres' highly detailed angularly exaggerated artwork and his written accounts were distributed nationally and an art exhibition of his drawings was held in New York City. Hutchings publicity efforts between 1855 and 1860 led to an increase in Yosemite tourism. Wawona was an Indian encampment in what is now the southwestern part of the park. Settler Galen Clark discovered the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia in Wawona in 1857. Simple lodgings were built, as were roads to the area. In 1879, the Wawona Hotel was built to serve tourists visiting Mariposa Grove. As tourism increased, so did the number of trails and hotels. The Wawona Tree, also known as the Tunnel Tree, was a famous giant sequoia that stood in the Mariposa Grove. It was 227 feet (69 m) tall, and was 90 ft (27 m) in circumference. A tunnel was cut through the tree in 1881, which made it a popular tourist photo attraction. Everything from horse-drawn carriages in the late 19th century, to automobiles in the first part of the 20th century, traveled the road which passed through that tree. The Wawona Tree fell in 1969 under a heavy load of snow. It was estimated to have been 2,300 years old. I think Yosemite to be one of the most beautiful places that I have ever seen.
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Identifier: 560, Last Accessed: 2018-02-20 15:58:20
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Last Modified: Fri Jul 29 2016 09:10:20.