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Blog Historical Figures of Yosemite
Alex Silgalis | 05/01/2020 | Entertainment/Theater, Events, Hiking, Holiday, Museums, History & Culture |   

Many individuals flock to Yosemite to see its beauty, to explore its splendor, or just take in its natural wonder. Regardless of the motive, let's learn about the historical figures who helped shape the story of Yosemite and what it has become, not just in the United States but worldwide.

Ansel Adams

No matter how many words are written about a place's magnificence, it’s the visual depiction that really captures the imagination. For Yosemite, Ansel Adams was the one who helped catapult the park into the nation’s psyche. In fact, at one point he lived in the park and spent years photographing it. He also helped create the legendary Bracebridge Dinner which still happens through the holidays every Christmas.

Buffalo Soldiers


Although not a specific person, it's a group of unsung heroes. The Buffalo Soldiers consisted of African American soldiers who served in the western frontier following the Civil War. As part of their responsibilities, they were some of the first park rangers in Yosemite & Sequoia National Parks. Even in the face of racism, this band of over 500 men helped defend these lands from evicting poachers, timber thieves as well as extinguishing forest fires.

Frederick Law Olmsted

Fallen Monarch in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Yosemite National Park

The man who pretty much created Landscape Architecture was also an advocate to protect the United States' natural beauty. His accolades include being the co-creator of Central Park, designer of the US Capitol grounds, leader of the campaign to protect the Niagara Falls, and last but not least, one of the key figures in helping Yosemite become a national park. It was Olmsted’s historic report “Yosemite and the Mariposa Grove” that sparked the idea in Washington for it to be protected.

Robert Underwood Johnson

Autumn Sunset in Yosemites Tuolumne MeadowsPhoto by: Steve Montalto

The old adage “the pen is mightier than the sword” is especially true for Robert Underwood Johnson. His love of nature and exploration included one fateful camping trip with John Muir in 1889. It was during this endeavor that he urged him to "start an association" to help protect the Sierra Nevada (i.e. Sierra Club) and to write about Yosemite. As editor-in-chief of Century Magazine along with his connections out East, he helped give John Muir the platform needed to be the driving force on creating Yosemite.

John Muir


It would be wrong if we didn’t put the champion of nature himself on this list. The “Father of National Parks”, his writings and gospel of nature were vastly different to any other writer, ecologist, or naturalist of the time. It was his unceasing love of nature that can be felt in his published writings. And sculpting not just Yosemite, but so many other natural wonders across the United States.

Yosemite wouldn’t be what it is today without these historical figures helping make sure that future generations can enjoy it. As John Muir so perfectly put it:

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.

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Like what you see? Save any of these pins (or possibly all of them) to your travel planning board(s) to give you an easy way to find your way back here!  Also check out our other blog posts as well as itineraries for more ideas and pins!

Alex Silgalis

Alex founded localfreshies.com® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

Our annual Visit Yosemite | Madera County Visitors Guide can answer all your questions about visiting California's Gateway to Yosemite. From the park itself to the museums, wineries, art galleries and more throughout Madera County, our guide can help you plan the perfect vacation. Please note that we mail to the USA only, but anyone can download the guide.
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