“Not just a great valley” – California State Quarter

The 2005 California State Quarter features Yosemite Valley and John Muir, and today marks the 124th anniversary of the Yosemite National Park.

Back in the summer, the valley celebrated an earlier milestone, the 150th anniversary of its land grant.

On June 30, 1864, President Lincoln approved “An Act authorizing a Grant to the State of California of the ‘Yo-Semite Valley,’ and of the Land embracing the ‘Mariposa Big Tree Grove,'” the Sequoias.

The Act stipulated that California “accept this grant upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort and recreation and shall be inalienable for all time.”

In the years following the land grant, people observed that California was not preserving the beautiful valley.

One of these people, John Muir, published several articles about the destruction of the grandeur. In particular, Muir did not like the “hoofed locusts,” otherwise known as sheep, that were destructively grazing the valley.

Muir, with his words and wide readership, drew the public’s attention to the loss of the wilderness.

With the help of the members of the Sierra Club, Muir convinced Congress to protect the Yosemite Valley.

On October 1, 1890, they passed “An act to set apart certain tracts of land in the State of California as forest reservations.”

This act went on to describe the boundaries that encompassed roughly 1200 square miles that included the Yosemite Valley.

The act also noted that it did not affect the earlier act of 1864, but it did place the control of the lands under the Secretary of the Interior.

In the act of 1890, Congress provided “for the preservation from injury of all timber, mineral deposits, natural curiosities or wonders within said reservation, and their retention in their natural condition.”

After the success in Congress, Muir wrote lengthy articles defending the size of the reservation to contrast against the complaints that the government took too much land for Yosemite.

Regardless of the early size disagreements, many people enjoyed the wilderness area through the years.

For million-mark milestones, the park first hit one million visitors in 1954; two million in 1967; three million in 1987; and four million in 1994.

Today, the National Park Service describes Yosemite:

“Not just a great valley, but a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra.

” Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more.”

You don’t have to be an environmentalist to appreciate the beauty preserved in the park’s acreage.

In today’s image, the California State Quarter rests against a background of one view within Yosemite National Park.

California State Quarter