National Parks
The American Experience
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The sheer cliffs and waterfalls of Yosemite Valley epitomize the notion of monumentalism that lay behind the national park movement in the United States. Yosemite Valley was ceded to California for protection as a state park in 1864; a national park surrounding the gorge was established by Congress in 1890. Ralph H. Anderson photograph, courtesy of the National Park Service

Niagra Falls
George Catlin (1796-1872), best known for his painting for his paintings of American Indians, painted Niagra Falls in 1827. Perhaps he was thinking of the commercial disfigurement of Niagra that has already begun when, in 1832, he proposed "A nation's Park"; Frederick Law Olmsted, Ferdinand V. Hayden, and other later leaders of the national park movement held Niagra up as an argument for the protection of scenic wonders. Courtesy of the National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution

Patowmac River
"The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue ridge" at Harpers Ferry, wrote Thomas Jefferson, "is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature.... This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic." Even so, most European travelers, as well as American nationalists, considered such landscapes commonplace, especially when compared with the Rhine Valley and similar Old World landmarks with a long human history. Courtesy of the National Park Service


National Parks: The American Experience
©1997, University of Nebraska Press
runte1/photo1-1.htm — 17-Mar-2004