Sunday 13 September 2015

The Camping Trip That Changed America

"I wish to write you personally to express the hope that you will be able to take me through the Yosemite." (President Theodore Roosevelt's letter to John Muir, 1903)

Theodore Roosevelt & John Muir at Glacier Point circa 1903 courtesy

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt sat down in his overstuffed chair and read conservationist John Muir's book about his adventures in the Sierra Mountains.  Muir complained about how America's "wild forests were vanishing".  Roosevelt took out a pen and paper and wrote a letter to Muir, asking if he would accompany him on a tour of Yosemite in California to see the problem firsthand (

The rich New Yorker, Roosevelt, and the poor immigrant farmer, Muir, were opposites.  But Roosevelt took great delight in their adventure, exclaiming that he felt like "a runaway schoolboy". The president was treated to the sight of Mariposa Grove's towering sequoias and Glacier Point's Overhanging Rock.  Roosevelt was alarmed by the plethora of fallen sequoias and the pollution spewing into the air.

The Yosemite trip was burned into Roosevelt's memory.  Not long after, in 1906, he signed the Antiquities Act to protect the national natural treasures.  Today, almost 85 million acres of land are located within America's national parks.

For more information, read The Camping Trip That Changed America at

Roosevelt, Muir and company in front of a giant sequoia courtesy 

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