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Since they were the first white men to enter the valley they chose to give it a name. It was named Yosemitebecause it was thought that was the name of the tribe they had come to dispossess.7.Later, scholars would learn that in fact the natives called the valley Ahwahnee (meaning the place of a gaping mouth) and that they called themselves the Ahwahneechee. Yosemite it was learned meant something entirely different. It refers to people who should be feared. It means “they are killers.” 8.In 1855, a second group of white people arrived in Yosemite Valley—this time as tourists, not Indian fighters. They were led by James Mason Hutchings (an energetic Englishman who has failed miserably as a prospector during the Gold Rush). 9.Hutchings hoped to make a fortune by promoting California’s wonders through an illustrated magazine.10.Many people were determined to see this wonderland. The trip required a two-day journey from San Franciscoto the nearest town and then, with no wagon road into the valley, a grueling three-day trek by foot or horseback, up and down steep mountainsides on narrow, rocky paths.11.But for most, the scenic reward was worth the hardship. Upon seeing Yosemite Falls, the highest on the continent, a visitor began quoting the Bible and praising “the glorious works of God.” He told his companions, “Now let me die, for I am happy.”12.Fifteen miles south of Yosemite, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias contains the largest living things on earth; trees nearly 3,000years old.13.The celebrated painter, Albert Bierstadt, arrived and produced a series of masterpieces. One of them would command the price of $25,000, equal to the highest amount ever paid for an American work of art.Episode 1, Chapter 3 “Eden”1.For Thomas Jefferson, America was a national park. As Jefferson’s nation had grown, the country’s sense of itself and itspossibilities had grown as well.2.The Transcendentalist writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, began telling Americans that God was more easily found in naturethan in the works of man.3.His disciple, Henry David Thoreau, had called for “little oases of wildness in the desert of our civilization.”
4.What emerges in the middle of the 19thcentury is this idea that going back to wild nature is restorative. It’s a way of escaping the corruptions of urban civilized life…But it was all in danger, as the nation, in the name of Manifest Destiny, marched inexorably across the continent, systematically dispossessing Indian peoples from their homelands and transforming the land to new uses.5.The artist George Catlin worried that the great herds of buffalo and the Indians who depended on them would somedaybe gone forever and he called for the creation of a nation’s parkto save them both. No one listened.6.By the 1860s the country’s most famous landmark, Niagra Falls, had already been nearly ruined. Every overlook was owned by a private land owner charging a fee.