Rail & Stage

The political muscle needed to create a new Yosemite National Park brought about a marriage of interests that had also been important in the creation of Yellowstone. Preservationists like John Muir actively worked with the Southern Pacific Railroad and its political supporters in the California congressional delegation. Yosemite, like Yellowstone before, was a desirable destination and the railroads provided the means to get there. The lobbying pressure brought by the railroad was very important in causing Congress to act in October of 1890 to preserve the greater Yosemite region. Yosemite Valley, though, was left in the control of the state of California. Local agricultural, mining, transportation, and hospitality interests were still too big an obstacle in the California state legislature for a bill returning Yosemite Valley to the federal government to pass.

Getting to Yosemite was no easy matter. The trip from San Francisco took several days as suggested in the following 1871 map and description from the Central Pacific Railroad.

To Start You Thinking

1) Trace the routes suggested in the description above from San Francisco to Yosemite Valley. Pick the shortest route and list the towns you would visit along the way.

2) What different modes of transportation would the Yosemite visitor use in getting from San Francisco to Yosemite.

3) What scenic stops might the Yosemite visitor make on a trip to the valley?


image from Union and Central Pacific RR line, "Timetable Map," Chicago: Rand McNally & Co., 1871 as found at the David Rumsey Map Collection.

Last modified in April, 2017 by Rick Thomas