The results of 30 years of research on President Theodore Roosevelt’s visit to Yosemite in 1903 will be presented by Sierra Star “Remember When” columnist and historian Debby Carter at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 1 at the Cunningham School House in the Fresno Flats Historical Park. The lecture is a part of the ongoing Sierra Historic Sites Association First Friday Free Lecture Series.
“This is my opportunity to debunk the myths around Teddy Roosevelt’s trip to Yosemite,” Carter says. Through volunteer work as librarian for the SHSA, she is able to pursue her lifelong passion for historical research. She will share a number of images she has collected documenting Roosevelt’s visit not only to Yosemite Valley, but also to the Wawona Hotel (now Big Trees Lodge) owned by the Washburn brothers.
Other images show Roosevelt photographed on board a stagecoach at the now-fallen Tunnel Tree in Mariposa Grove, at Inspiration Point and Sentinel Bridge and with John Muir at Glacier Point.
She includes maps showing Roosevelt’s route that included transportation by train along the Southern Pacific Railroad spur from Berenda to Raymond, and by stagecoach and horseback.
Roosevelt was actually on the campaign trail as he traveled from the east coast to the west, Carter says. He was two years into his presidency and at the age of 42, he is the youngest president.
Roosevelt is remembered as a conservationist as well as a statesman. He left a legacy of protecting and preserving lands for the public and his campaign travel gave him the opportunity to visit various parks and preserves along the route.
Muir wanted a chance to talk with Roosevelt about bringing Mariposa Grove, Yosemite Valley and all of the area now encompassed by Yosemite National Park under federal protection. In 1864, Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley were protected under California state jurisdiction under a decree signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The reason for state jurisdiction was because the national park system was not put into place until 1890.
The 1903 trip gave Roosevelt the opportunity to meet and talk with Muir.
Teddy Roosevelt’s trip to Yosemite
What: Fresno Flats First Friday Free Lecture Series by Debby Carter
Where: Fresno Flats Historic Village and Park at 49777 School Road in Oakhurst. The village recreates 19th century life in the Sierra Nevada foothills and is home to two restored and furnished homes built in the 1870s as well as other historic buildings moved to the park.
When: Friday, Feb. 1, museum on the grounds opens to the public at 5:30 p.m., lecture at 6:30 p.m.
Cost: Free, but donations to the Sierra Historic Sites Association will be accepted.