Road Closures Due to El Portal Fire
The Big Oak Flat Road between Crane Flat and the El Portal Road is temporarily closed. There is no access to Yosemite Valley via the Big Oak Flat Road or Highway 120. Tioga Road is open and accessible via Big Oak Flat and Tioga Pass Entrances. More »
Campground Closures Due to Fire
Crane Flat, Bridalveil Creek, and Yosemite Creek Campgrounds are temporarily closed. More »
Yosemite National Park is Open
Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, and Wawona/Mariposa Grove areas are open and accessible via Highways 140 and 41. Tioga Road is not accessible via Highways 140 and 41 due to a fire.
Past Exhibit: Views in the 19th Century
Related 2011 Exhibit: "Views & Visitors: The Yosemite Experience in the Early 20th Century" at the Yosemite Museum
Past 2010 Exhibit: "Views & Visitors: The Yosemite Experience in the 19th Century" (description below)
RL2739 Yosemite Research Library
In 1875, J.C. Dotry of New York City wrote: "Very, very, very fine scenery but very, very hard to get to" of his journey across the country. The weary traveler's comment appeared in a thick book called the Grand Register of Yo-Semite Valley that sat on the porch of the Cosmopolitan Bathhouse and Saloon. The Cosmopolitan's register was kept out where all visitors could sign and browse through other tourist entries. Take, for example, what Mrs. E.S. Carr of Oakland, Calif., scribed in 1873: "People should be sure to try Smith baths and mint juleps if they wish to have it said they have seen the Valley."
The Cosmopolitan definitely became part of the experience of Yosemite's visitors in the late 1800s. Its story was a central element in the Yosemite Museum's "Views & Visitors: The Yosemite Experience in the 19th Century" exhibit, which hung in the Yosemite Museum Gallery in 2010.
The Cosmopolitan's register, weighing more than 70 pounds, contains more than 10,000 signatures on 800 pages. U.S. presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, and James Garfield signed in, as did many other distinguished visitors. Thousands flocked to Yosemite, which had become a well-known scenic wonder of the western United States in the late 1800s.
RL16861 Yosemite Research Library
The Cosmopolitan Bathhouse and Saloon was built by John C. Smith, who opened this bathhouse and saloon in 1871 in Yosemite Valley. Known as a spot where visitors could get an excellent bath of hot or cold water at any hour of the day, the Cosmopolitan was furnished extravagantly with billiard tables, full-length mirrors, bathtubs, and a fully-stocked bar. The Cosmopolitan attracted many travelers who appreciated its unexpected comforts. Wealthy individuals from the northeastern United States, Californians, and a large number of foreigners made up the majority of visitors. Many entered their names and comments in the Cosmopolitan's register.
The Cosmopolitan operated until 1884, when it was closed down by the Yosemite Commissioners as inappropriate—any saloon in Yosemite should be operated in conjunction with a hotel. The structure was used for almost an additional 50 years until it burned in 1932.
The Cosmopolitan's register was donated to Yosemite National Park by the Yosemite Fund in 2007.
Other details about traveling to the Yosemite region in the 19th century:
Did You Know?
Rockfall events have helped shape many of the outstanding features along Yosemite Valley's walls, including Royal Arches, North Dome, and Half Dome. Giant talus slopes that slant away from the Valley walls accumulate debris with each rockfall event.