The Last Refuge (1890-1915)
By the end of the 19th century, widespread industrialization has left many Americans worried about whether the country will have any pristine land left. Congress has yet to establish clear judicial authority or appropriations for the protection of the parks. This sparks a conservation movement by organizations such as the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, and the Boone and Crockett Club.
Announcer: Our national parks belong to all of us.
They are places of discovery, they are places of inspiration,
they are America's best idea.
Major funding provided by: the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.
Additional funding was provided
by the Park Foundation in support
of a clean and healthy environment;
The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations--
dedicated to strengthening America's future
the National Park Foundation,
the official charity of America's national parks;
the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation;
the Pew Charitable Trusts;
by General Motors;
by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting;
and by generous contributions to this PBS station
from viewers like you.
Bank of America is proud to be
exclusive corporate underwriter
for the films of Ken Burns
and hopes you enjoy this encore presentation.
MAN: One of the last jobs I had in Yellowstone was
delivering the mail on snowmobile.
There I was in the world'sfirst national park, and I
remember going down into Hayden Valley.
There were bison crossing over the road--2,000-pound mammals
crossing over the road, and it was so cold.
It was about 60 below zero.
And the bison, as theybreathed, their exhalation
would seem to crystallize inthe air around them, and there
were these sheets, theseropey stands of crystals kind
of flowing down from their breath.
And I saw them, and they justmoved their heads and were
looking at me, and I rememberthinking that if I had not
been on that machine, I wouldhave thought I had been thrust
fully back into the Pleistocene, back into
the Ice Age.
And I remember juststopping and turning it off
because the only way you couldhear was to turn that thing
off, and I would turn it off,and I would listen, and I felt
like this was the first day...
and this morning was the first time the sun had ever come up
and the shadows that are beingcast right now is the first
time those shadows haveever been cast on the earth.
And I was all alone, but Ifelt I was in the presence
of everything around me and I was never alone.
It was one of those momentswhen you get pulled outside
of yourself into the environment around you,
and I felt like I was justwith the breath of the bison
as they were exhaling and I was exhaling and they
It was all kind of flowingtogether, and I forgot
completely about the mail.
All I was thinking of was that a single moment
in a place as wild as Yellowstone, and most
of the national parks, can last forever.
PETER COYOTE: In 1883, a youngpolitician, the second son
of a prominent New YorkCity family, became alarmed
about reports that the vastherds of buffalo that had once
blanketed the Great Plainswere quickly disappearing.
So he hurried west on the Northern Pacific Railroad
and got off when he reachedthe heart of the badlands
in the Dakota territory.
[Train whistle blows]
His name was Theodore Roosevelt.
He was 24 years old, and hewas afraid the buffalo would
become extinct before hegot the chance to shoot one.
He hired a local guide andendured days of rough travel
by horseback until he finallycame across a solitary buffalo
bull, killed it, and thenremoved its head for shipment
back to New York to be mounted on his wall.
MAN: Roosevelt loved to kill.
He liked to shoot quadrupeds.
At times he basically saidhe didn't trust Americans who
wouldn't hunt, and he hinted that he didn't believe that
Americans should have citizenship who weren't
willing to kill a quadruped.
COYOTE: That first trip to thewest, Roosevelt said later,
was an important turning point for him.
Over the next several years,he would return again
and again to take more huntingtrips into the mountains,
to ranch on the open plains,to build up his health
and character by pursuing what he called "the strenuous life,"
to become, in his own words,"at heart as much a Westerner
as I am an Easterner."
Roosevelt would never lose hislove of hunting, but in time
he would learn that there weremuch bigger and more important
trophies to pursue.
WOMAN: Our national parksare an idea, an idea based
on generosity--not just forour own species, but
for all species.
I think that is profoundlyoriginal in terms of a people
that say, we value wild nature in place.
We are of this place.
And I think it's our own declaration of both
independence and interdependence.
MAN: The great wilds of ourcountry, once held to be
boundless and inexhaustible,are being rapidly invaded
and overrun in every direction, and everything
destructible in them is being destroyed.
How far destruction may gois not easy to guess.
Every landscape, low and high,seems doomed to be trampled
COYOTE: As the 19th centuryentered its final decade,
Americans began to takestock of what they had made
of the continent they had been so busily subduing.
Only 50 years earlier,the nation's western border
had been the spine of the Rocky Mountains.
Buffalo numbering in the tens of millions teemed
on the Great Plains.
Vast forests had never heard the ring of an ax.
Indian peoples stilledcontrolled most of the west.
[Train whistle blowing]
Now the nation stretchedall the way to the Pacific.
Railroads had pushed intoevery corner of the country.
Indians had beensystematically dispossessed
from their homelands and forced onto reservations.
White settlements had sprungup in so many places that the
director of the census of 1890announced he could no longer
find an American frontier.
The bountiful land ThomasJefferson considered nature's
nation had seemingly been conquered.
MAN: The moment that Americansstart setting aside these
national parks is also themoment of sort of the most
explosive exploitation of so many elements
of the national landscape.
It's the cutting down of the north woods
at an extraordinary rate.
It's the destruction of thebison herds, the elimination
of the passenger pigeons.
There is so much being destroyed in the name
of progress in the United States in the late 19th
century that the parks are akind of reaction against that.
They are saying, if we keepgoing the way we're going,
we're going to use it all up, and some of this is
so beautiful, so essential towho we are as a people that
we've got to put walls aroundthese parts and protect them
COYOTE: By 1890, the UnitedStates has established 4
national parks: Yellowstone, the world's first; the high
country of Yosemite; and two groves of big trees
in California--General Grant and Sequoia.
The army had recently been placed in charge
of protecting them all.
Nonetheless, park wildlifewere still routinely killed.
Cows and sheep still overgrazed park meadows.
Ancient forests were still endangered.
And tourists seemed intenton squandering the treasures
a previous generation had bequeathed them.
The rk idea, not yet a quarter century old,
still seemed an uncertain experiment.
The issues of what was permissible and proper
for people who visited theparks were still unresolved.
But as a new century was about to dawn, a handful
of Americans began to questionthe headlong rush that had
caused so much devastationand saw in the national parks
a seed of hope that at leastsome pristine places could be
saved before it was too late.
Among them would be the youngassemblyman from New York City
who had gone west on a boyishimpulse but who would mature
into a president whose mostlasting legacy was rescuing
large portions of America from destruction.
MAN: Surely our people do notunderstand even yet the rich
heritage that is theirs.
There can be nothing in theworld more beautiful than
the Yosemite, the groves ofgiant sequoias and redwoods,
the canyon of the Yellowstone,the canyon of the Colorado,
the Three Tetons.
And our people should see toit that they are preserved
for their children and their children's children forever
with their majestic beauty all unmarred.
DIFFERENT MAN: Dear reader,
today I'm in the YellowstonePark, and I wish I were dead.
The park is just a howlingwilderness of 3,000 square
miles, full of all imaginablefreaks of a fiery nature.
I have been through the parkin a buggy in the company of
an adventurous old lady fromChicago and her husband,
who disapproved of the scenery as being ungodly.
I fancy it scared them.
COYOTE: In 1889, RudyardKipling, a young Englishman
and aspiring writer, was making his first tour
of the United States, financing the trip by
writing dispatches for newspapers overseas.
Like many foreigners, Kiplingcould not resist stopping
at Yellowstone, a placealready known around the world
as the wonderland.
Most visitors in those dayswere well-to-do, able to pay
the $120 train fare acrossthe continent to the remote
northwestern corner of Wyoming and then $40 more
for the 5-day stagecoach tripthrough the park known as
the grand tour.
The first stop was the hotelat Mammoth Hot Springs,
where everyone unpackedquickly and then rushed to buy
souvenirs and post cardsmade by the park's resident
photographer, Frank J. Haynes.
Many guests were perfectlycontent to view the Mammoth
Springs from the comfort ofthe hotel veranda, but some
bought guide books and hiked up to the terraces
for a closer look.
MAN AS RUDYARD KIPLING: I found a basin which some
learned hotelkeeper haschristened Cleopatra's Pitcher
or Mark Antony's Whiskey Jugor something equally poetical.
I do not know the depth of that wonder.
The eye looked down intoan abyss that communicated
directly with the central fires of the earth.
The ground rings hollow as akerosene tin, and someday the
Mammoth Hotel, guests and all,will sink into the caverns
below and be turned into a stalactite.
COYOTE: In the morning,the passengers loaded back
into their assigned carriagesand one by one set off toward
the park's interior, spacedabout every 500 yards to
lessen the effects of dustthat clung in the air, Kipling
wrote, as dense as a fog.
He was bemused by his fellowtourists, especially the older
woman from Chicago sittingnext to him, who chewed gum
and talked constantly,pontificating with her husband
on everything theyencountered, especially once
they reached the first geyser area.
MAN AS RUDYARD KIPLING:The old lady, regarding the
horrors of the fire holes,could only say "Good Lord!"
at 30-second intervals.
"And if," continued the oldlady," if we find a thing
"so dreadful as all that steamand sulfur allowed on the face
"on the earth, mustn't webelieve there is something
"10,000 times more terrible below,
"prepared for our destruction?"
COYOTE: At noon, they stoppedat a tent hotel, a place
called Larry's, run byLarry Matthews, a friendly
and loquacious Irishmanknown for lavishing special
attention on his gentille guests.
MAN AS RUDYARD KIPLING: Larryenveloped us all in the golden
glamour of his speech, 'ere we had descended.
And the tent with the rudetrestle table became a palace,
the rough fare became delicacies
of Delmonico's, and we, the abashed recipients
of Larry's imperial bounty.
shillings for tinned beef,biscuits, and beer.ad paid
COYOTE: Like the other establishments within
the water in Yellowstoneagedwas impregnated with sulfur
and therefore unfit for drinking.
It was untrue, but itboosted sales of mineral water
and beer at the inflatedprice of 50 cents a bottle
and created roadsides littered with empties.
When the parade ofstagecoaches reached the lower
geyser basin, the touristsencamped for two nig"Qs
at the Fire Hole Hotel,or later, the more luxurious
Fountain Hotel, built at acost of $100,000 and capable
of handling 350 guests,complete with electric lights,
steam heat, and hot baths fedby one of the thermal springs.
The next two days of the grand tour were devoted exclusively
to visiting the spectaculararray of geysers and thermal
pools and fumaroles, the largest concentration
of them in the world.
Tourists would peer downthe throat of gaping holes
in the ground, taking theirchances that a geyser was not
about to erupt in their face.
They marveled at the beauty oftranslucent pools of turquoise
water, washed pieces of linenin Handkerchief Pool, which
turned the cloth white as snow.
MAN AS RUDYARD KIPLING: They are guarded by soldiers who
patrol with loaded six-shooters in order that the
tourists may not bring upfence-rails and sink them
in a pool or chip the frettedtracery of the formations
with a geological hammer or,walking where the crust is too
thin, foolishly cook himself.
COYOTE: No visit toYellowstone was considered
complete without seeing OldFaithful go off on schedule.
MAN AS RUDYARD KIPLING: Allthe young ladies remarked that
it was elegant and betookthemselves to writing their
names in the bottoms of shallow pools.
Nature fixes the insultindelibly, and the after-years
will learn that Hattie, Sadie,Mamie, Sophie, and so forth
have taken out their hairpinsand scrawled in the face
of Old Faithful.
COYOTE: The last night in thepark was spent at a hotel near
the majestic Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
The view from its edge wasconsidered the inspirational
Even the cynical Rudyard Kipling was impressed.
MAN AS RUDYARD KIPLING: AllI can say is that without
warning or preparation, I looked into a gulf 1,700
feet deep with eaglesand fish hawks circling far
below, and the sides of thatgulf were one wild welter
of color--crimson, emerald,cobalt, ocher, amber, honey
splashed with port wine,snow white, vermillion, lemon,
and silver-gray in wide washes.
So far below that no soundof its strife could reach us,
the Yellowstone River ran,a finger-wide strip
of jade green.
Now I know what it is to sitenthroned amid the clouds
COYOTE: The final dayconsisted of a stagecoach ride
back to the start of the tour,lunch once more at Larry's,
shouting out the names of their home states
and countries to passingwagons filled with fresh loads
of tourists heading into thepark, dinner at the hotel
at Mammoth Hot Springs,then on to the train waiting
at the station to carry themand their memories away.
MAN AS RUDYARD KIPLING: "Andto think," said the old lady
from Chicago, "that this showplace has been going
"on all these days, and none of we ever saw it."
MAN: Those first fewyears--and maybe this was OK
because there were so few visitors--but it was
just wide open.
Yellowstone were very quicklyoteaching the managers what
wasn't gonna work.
Nobody knew how to act in a national park.
It hadn't been decided yet.
COYOTE: Having created thenational parks, Congress had
not seen fit to provide somekind of authority to oversee
them, and in 1886, it evenrefused to appropriate any
General Phillip Sheridan hadbeen forced to send the U.S.
Cavalry into Yellowstone simply to maintain some
semblance of order.
By the 1890s, this temporary arrangement had
Up to 4 troops of cavalrywere stationed at the newly
constructed Fort Yellowstonenear the Mammoth Hot Springs.
SCHULLERY: I think the oddsare really good that if
the army hadn't been sent in, Yellowstone wouldn't
have made it.
that people would put theiraddress, too, and the soldiers
could just very simply goout and write them all down,
head back to the hotel,and look through the hotel
registers and find thesepeople and drag them by the
collar back out so they couldspend some time scrubbing
their name off.
COYOTE: The army was expectedto patrol 2 million acres
on horseback, doing their bestto stop poachers and vandals
and campers careless with their fires.
But the troopers were hamperedby the fact that the federal
park existed in a legal no man's land.
Usually their only recoursewas a warning, or in the most
serious cases, expulsion from the park.
Army engineers built andimproved the roads and bridges
that guided travel within thepark to the places tourists
wanted to see, while leavingmajor portions of Yellowstone
a roadless and totally wild expanse.
With the tourists gone, the cavalrymen found
themselves holed up in small cabins scattered
around the park, patrollingfor poachers on skis in frigid
temperatures and lethal snowstorms.
Frederick Remington, when hevisited and traveled with
the soldiers in Yellowstone,said that they were very fond
of saying that Yellowstonehad 3 seasons: July, August,
and winter, and they hated it.
COYOTE: Men were losttransporting mail from one
isolated outpost to another.
They died in avalanches.
Some may have been killedby poachers, who were often
better equipped and moreexperienced at maneuvering
through the back country in deep snow.
MAN: In my last report,I noted the death of Private
Matthews of Troop B,6th Cavalry, while on detached
service for the mail.
A most thorough search for his remains was continued
for almost 6 months after his disappearance.
His body was found early in June.
It was evident that hebecame lost and while in that
condition became crazedand perished from the cold.
Captain George Anderson.
COYOTE: The cavalry was also in charge of the nation's 3
other national parks--GeneralGrant, Sequoia, and the high
country surrounding Yosemite.
Each spring, troops stationedat the Presidio in San
Francisco would make the2-week, 250-mile ride to the
Sierras and patrol the 3 parksduring the summer season.
Some of them were African Americans, the celebrated
buffalo soldiers of the 9thand 10th Cavalry who had made
a name for themselves in the Indian wars.
Their commander was CaptainCharles Young, born into
slavery in Kentucky, whosefather had escaped bondage
during the Civil War to enlist in the Union Army.
Young followed his father'sexample of military service,
becoming the third black man to graduate from West Point
and the first to be put incharge of a national park.
an African AmericanJOHNofficer--an officer--
that stays in your mind,
and it also sparks a fire inyour own sense of self-worth,
your own sense of what is possible in this world,
because you might say to yourself, "If he could do
"that, maybe I could do that as well."
So he was a walkinginspiration to the enlisted
men in the 9th and 10th Cavalry.
COYOTE: As superintendent of Sequoia, Young directed his
men to complete the first wagon road into
the Giant Forest.
They accomplished more inone summer than had been done
in the 3 previous years combined.
They built the first trail to Mt. Whitney,
the highest peak inthe west, and erected fences
around the big trees toprevent vandalism by visitors.
JOHNSON: So the earlyparks--Yellowstone, Sequoia,
and Yosemite--you had to have park protectors
because otherwise, people would be going into those
areas doing what they'vealways done--cutting trees
down, you know, for firewood,or shooting the game, shooting
the deer to feed their family.
How do you tell someone who'sjust trying to keep their
children fed, not hungry, that it's illegal now to
shoot the game in Yosemiteor in Sequoia National Park?
And that would be a difficultproposition if you were
a white soldier, but when youadd that overlay of race,
which is no overlay at all,and you have an African
American, a colored man,giving orders to people who
are not used to taking ordersfrom anyone who looks like me,
then you have the beginningof a very interesting day.
COYOTE: Like theircounterparts at Yellowstone,
the troops in California hadto operate without clear legal
authority and thereforeinvented techniques to protect
When they collected travelers'rifles upon entry and only
returned them when thevisitors left, the wildlife
began to come back.
Sheep herders defiantlybringing their flocks into the
park's alpine meadows had beenopenly scornful of the troops,
once they realized that thearmy had no power of criminal
arrest and prosecution.
The soldiers then came up with a creative solution.
JOHNSON: It was a standard rule.
You find the sheep that aregrazing illegally in the park,
and you move the sheep outto the eastern boundary
of the park.
You find the sheepherders, and you move them out the
western boundary of the park.
Now, the park in those days was 1,500
square miles, so by the time the sheep
and the sheep herders werereunited, well, let's just say
the season was done, and ifyou have a business and your
business is herding sheep andthat happens to you more than
once or twice, you don't comeback, and I think that was
a pretty effective way ofdealing with illegal grazing
in the park.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: For manyyears, the military have guarded
the great Yellowstone Park,and now they are guarding
They found it a desert as far as underbrush, grass,
and flowers were concerned,but in two years, the skin
of the mountains is healthy again.
Blessings on Uncle Sam's soldiers.
They have done their job well, and every pine tree is waving
its arm for joy.
COYOTE: No one was more thankful for the army's
presence than John Muir,for whom the Sierra Nevada was
the range of light--mountains,he wrote, "that were throbbing
"and pulsing with the heartbeats of God."
WOMAN: I think John Muirunderstood, as perhaps no one
else has, how essential beautyis--natural beauty is to us.
Without beauty, we have no, kind of, lubrication
of the human spirit.
We would just be dead, andthat's really what drove him.
That's what fueled him.
COYOTE: Clambering ecstatically over
the mountainsides, Muir hadbecome a self-taught expert
in glaciers, a keen observerand lover of everything he
encountered, from the tiniestspecks of lichen on a rock to
the mighty sequoias.
And through his magazinearticles, he had emerged as
afor preserving the last aremaining vestiges
of America's virginforests and unspoiled lands.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: Mere destroyers--tree killers,
wool and mutton men,spreading death and confusion
in the fairest groves and gardens ever planted.
Let the government hasten to cast them out and make
an end of them.
Any fool can destroy trees.
They cannot run away.
And if they could, they wouldstill be destroyed--chased
and hunted down as long as funor a dollar could be got out
of their bark hides.
Through all the wonderful,eventful centuries since
Christ's time and long beforethat, God has cared for these
trees, saved them fromdrought, disease, avalanches,
and a thousand straining,leveling tempests and floods,
but he cannot save them from fools.
Only Uncle Sam can do that.
COYOTE: Yosemite's highcountry had been designated
a national park in 1890,but the valley itself remained
under the control of aCalifornia state commission
and their political appointees, a group
of "blundering, plundering,moneymaking vote sellers,"
He wanted it all transferred back to
the federal government.
Only then, he believed,would it be safe from ruin.
In 1892, to help promote Yosemite's protection,
Muir and a small group ofprominent Californians formed
a new organization.
They called it the Sierra Club.
Muir enthusiastically agreedto serve as its president,
hoping, he said, that "wewill be able to do something
"for wildness and make the mountains glad."
MAN: In the 19th century,when the census bureau would
do its census, it would draw aline that's the frontier line,
and prouof it had thischeswestwardwonderful phrase.ition
It would say, in the last10 years, this many million
of acres have been "redeemed from wilderness by
"the hand of man."
"Redeemed from wilderness by the hand of man."
In other words, a virgin forest is redeemed when it's cut down.
A beautiful mountain stream isredeemed when the miners are
turned loose in it.
That symbolized what ourview of nature was as we were
rushing across the continent.
That's totally the oppositeof what John Muir would say.
Wilderness isn't redeemed by man.
Man is redeemed by wilderness.
MAN: To know you are the firstto set foot in homes that have
been deserted for centuriesis a strange feeling.
It is as though unseen eyeswatched, wondering what aliens
were invading their sanctuaries and why.
The dust of centuries filled the rooms and rose in thick
clouds at every movement.
COYOTE: A few months beforeRudyard Kipling visited
Yellowstone, cowboyssearching for stray cattle
in southwestern Colorado, along the edge of a high
plateau known as Mesa Verde, came upon the ruins
of an ancient city tucked into the side of a cliff.
Using a tree trunk and theirlariats, they improvised
a ladder and descended for a closer look.
MAN AS AL WETHERILL: It waslike treading holy ground to
go into those peaceful-lookinghomes of a vanished people.
Things were arranged in therooms as if people might just
have been out visiting somewhere.
COYOTE: In quick succession,they soon came across even
more ruins nestled into theremote canyon walls of Mesa
Verde and gave names to them all.
Spruce Tree House.
It was the largest concentration ever found
of the cliff dwellings--built, occupied, and then
mysteriously deserted nearly athousand years earlier by
the ancestors of some of themodern Pueblo Indians
of the southwest.
MAN AS AL WETHERILL: We knewthat if we did not break into
that charmed world, someoneelse would sometime--someone
who might not love and respectthose emblems of antiquity
as we did.
COYOTE: The cowboys whodiscovered the ruins were the
Wetherills--5 brothers froma family of Quakers who had
moved to Colorado from Kansas 8 years earlier.
The oldest was Richard,who encouraged them all to
spend every free moment digging among the ruins,
hoping to sell their discoveries to museums
in big cities.
MAN AS AL WETHERILL: We hadstarted in as just ordinary
but as work progressed alongthat sort of questionable
business, we developed quite abit of scientific knowledge by
careful work and comparisons.
COYOTE: One day a strangershowed up, a young Swedish
nobleman with an interest in archaeology--
When the Wetherills showedhim the ruins, his enthusiasm,
one of the brothersremembered, increased almost
beyond his control.
For two months, from sunup tosundown, he kept the Wetherill
brothers busy, teaching themmore scientific methods.
He showed them how to use a mason's trowel instead
of a spade, digging slowly andcarefully to reveal a relic
without damaging it.
He insisted on labeling andphotographing everything
and often saved items thatno other archaeologist
of the time would have kept--wood ash from fire pits,
dust and trash from the floors, even dried pieces
of human excrement that oneday might help determine what
the ancient Puebloans had been eating so long ago.
In all,he amassed hundreds of items
which he intended to ship home to Sweden.
But when his pack animals,loaded down with artifacts,
reached the railway stationin Durango, Nordenskiold was
MAN: The basic problem was,
this foreigner is stealing our
relics, our bowls, our pots,
and we're not gonna allow that.
It's all right for we Americans to steal them,
but it's not all right forthose foreigners to do it.
Gustaf's lawyer asked thejudge, under what law are we
And there was no law.
There was no law at all,so they couldn't stop him.
They couldn't stop anybody,and that probably sparked some
interest--why isn't there a law?
COYOTE: Nordenskiold wasreleased and got to take his
huge shipment home to Scandinavia, where he
published the first scientificstudy of the cliff dwellers.
But the controversy hadbrought worldwide attention to
Mesa Verde and to the factthat its treasures were
MAN: We have seen the Indian and the game retreat before
the white man and thecattle and beheld the tide
of immigration move forwardwhich threatens before long to
leave no portion of our vastterritory unbroken by the
farmer's plow or untrodden by his flocks.
There is one spot left--asingle rock about which this
tide will break and past whichit will sweep, leaving it
undefiled by the unsightlytraces of civilization.
Here in this Yellowstone Park,the large game of the west may
be preserved from extermination in this,
their last refuge.
George Bird Grinnell.
COYOTE: By the 1890s,few Americans understood as
keenly as George BirdGrinnell, the editor and owner
of "Forest and Stream" magazine, how fearful
the price had been for thenation's relentless expansion
across the continent.
RaisJohn James Audubon at thefamonorth end of Manhattan,
Grinnell could rememberspotting a bald eagle from his
bedroom window and watchingimmense flocks of passenger
pigeons darkening the sky fromhorizon to horizon as they
Traveling across Kansas, he had once encountered
a buffalo herd so vast thathis train was forced to stop
for 3 hours while thebeasts crossed the tracks.
He had hunted elk in Nebraskawhen elk could still be found
on the plains, ridden withthe Pawnees in a great buffalo
chase as the Indians broughtdown their prey with bows
Now all that and so muchmore suddenly seemed gone or
on the verge of disappearing.
Passenger pigeons had beenso systematically killed that
a bird once numbering in thehundreds of millions had been
reduced to a handful, and soonthe death of a solitary bird
in a Cincinnati zoo would bring an end to
the species' existence.
The hide-hunters had been equally effective
with the buffalo.
By the mid-1880s, the last ofthe great free-roaming herds
had been slaughtered.
Now the only wild herd left inthe country was in Yellowstone
National Park, estimated atonly a few hundred animals.
MAN AS GEORGE BIRD GRINNELL:For 4 centuries, we have been
killing and marketing game,destroying it as rapidly
and as thoroughly as we knewhow, and making no provision
toward replacing the supply.
We are just beginning toask one another how we may
preserve the little that remains for ourselves
and our children.
COYOTE: Grinnell regularly used the pages of "Forest
and Stream" to try to pointAmericans in a new direction.
It wasn't that he was against hunting.
In fact, he loved to hunt.
Grinnell just feared that without wise management,
there would be nothingleft for hunters to shoot.
He proposed the creation ofa new organization aimed
at stopping the heedless killing of wild birds,
"in honor," Grinnell wrote,"of the man who did more to
"teach Americans about birds of their own land than any other
"who ever lived."
He named the group The Audubon Society.
And when Grinnell publisheda mildly critical review
of Theodore Roosevelt's book chronicling his own western
adventures, the young authorburst into Grinnell's office
to confront him.
The two men turned the awkwardmoment into the beginning
of a lasting friendship andtogether formed the Boone
and Crockett Club to promote what they called "the manly
"sport of hunting."
DUNCAN: But Grinnell hadother, larger issues in mind
that he wanted to steer TeddyRoosevelt toward, and I think
over time he became somethingof a mentor to Roosevelt,
of taking this energetic guy,this guy who was a political
star, a rising political star,and gradually pointing him
in directions that wereclearly in Roosevelt's heart
but needed that little tiltfrom George Bird Grinnell to
bring them to fruition.
COYOTE: As president of thenew club, Theodore Roosevelt
was increasingly drawn intoGrinnell's battles, including
the longstanding crusade tokeep Yellowstone as pristine
It was a constant fight.
There were repeated attemptsin Congress to reduce
the park's size or open it up to greater
Roosevelt helped defeat them all.
But despite those successes,there was still no federal law
giving Yellowstone'scaretakers clear authority to
protect its wildlife,including its dwindling herd
of wild buffalo.
On March 13, 1894, two troopers out
on patrol in Yellowstoneheard shots in the distance
and hurried in that direction.
Soon they came acrossseveral buffalo carcasses.
A man was hunched over one ofthem, so busily skinning it
that he didn't realize thetroopers were there until one
of them was beside him with a drawn gun.
The poacher was Edgar Howell,and he had been methodically
killing as many buffalos ashe could, planning to haul out
their heads for sale to a Montana taxidermist.
As luck would have it,a reporter named Emerson Hough
on assignment for "Forest andStream," was also in the park
with a photographer to do anarticle about Yellowstone
in the winter.
When the poacher bragged thatthe worst punishment he could
receive for his crime was expulsion from the park
and the loss of only 26dollars' worth of equipment,
Hough realized he had stumbledonto a great story and quickly
telegraphed it to Grinnell in New York City.
Grinnell knew just what to do with it.
SCHULLERY: Grinnell just pulled out all the stops.
He ran the story in "Forest and Stream."
He was in contact witheverybody he knew who might be
able to wake up, you know,the sleeping giant,
the American public, andmake them care about this,
and he succeeded.
COYOTE: Within a week,legislation was working its
way through Congress,authorizing regulations that
would finally protect the park, its geysers,
and its wildlife.
On May 7, 1894, less than twomonths after Howell's capture,
President Grover Cleveland signed the bill into law.
SCHULLERY: George Bird Grinnell and Theodore Roosevelt
and the other defenders of Yellowstone were thinking
in ecosystem terms beforeanybody was using the term.
They saw places likeYellowstone as reservoirs.
They used the term "reservoir."
It was a reservoir for wildlife.
of Howell had been missed,we would have lost the bison.
They were so close to gone.
MAN: Gentlemen, why in heaven's name this haste?
You have time enough.
Why sacrifice the present tothe future, fancying that you
will be happier when your fields teem with wealth
and your cities with people?
In Europe, we have citieswealthier and more populous
than yours, and we are not happy.
You dream of your posterity,but your posterity will look
back to yours as the goldenage and envy those who first
burst into this silent,splendid nature, who first
lifted up their axes uponthese tall trees and lined
these waters with busy wharves.
Why, then, seek to complete, in a few decades, what took
the other nations of the world thousands of years?
Why, in your hurry to subdueand utilize nature, squander
her splendid gifts?
You have opportunity such asmankind has never had before
and may never have again.
Lord James Bryce.
MAN: The first duty of thehuman race is to control
the earth it lives upon.
The first principle ofconservation is development,
the use of natural resourcesnow existing on this continent
for the benefit of the people who live here now.
COYOTE: Gifford Pinchot wasa graduate of Yale who had
studied forestry in Germanyand France and returned as
the first American to declare himself
a professional forester.
He and John Muir had met in1896 and in the beginning
enjoyed each other's company,camping together on the rim
of the Grand Canyon.
But while the two men agreed that America's forests were
being rapaciously destroyed,they ultimately parted company
on the solution.
Muir considered forests sacred.
He wanted them treated asparks with logging, grazing,
and hunting prohibited.
Pinchot didn't agree.
He wanted forests protected,too, but he believed the best
way to do it was to managetheir use, not leave them alone.
His favorite saying was "the greatest good
"for the greatest number."
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: Much issaid on questions of this kind
about the greatest good for the greatest number,
but the greatest number is too often found to be number one.
It is never the greatestnumber in the common meaning
of the term that makes thegreatest noise and stir
on questions mixed with money.
Complaints are made in the name of poor settlers
and miners, while the wealthy corporations are kept
carefully hidden in the background.
Let right, commendableindustry be fostered, but as
to these Goths and Vandals of the wilderness who are
spreading black death in thefairest woods God ever made,
let the government up and at 'em.
CRONON: We often tell stories about the origins
of the American conservationmovement by setting John Muir
and Gifford Pinchot incounterpoint with each other.
Often in those stories, John Muir is the hero
and Gifford Pinchot is the villain.
In fact, they represent, I think, two sides of one coin.
Muir is the figure who celebrates the sacred
in nature--the wildness, the otherness of nature,
that which we need to protectif we are not to contaminate
things that are nonhumanwith our own human agendas.
Pinchot, on the other hand,is about a conservation that
It's about keeping theroots of our material lives
in the natural world in such a way that we don't destroy
nature as we use nature for our own livelihood.
COYOTE: Congress and theadministration of President
Grover Cleveland sided withPinchot, who was appointed
the nation's chief forester.
National forests wouldbecome part of the Department
of Agriculture, used and managed like a crop,
not preserved like a temple.
But if Muir could not prevailon the future of all national
forests, he tried to salvageat least a partial victory by
protecting one forest as a national park.
It was in westernWashington state within sight
of the cities of Seattle andTacoma, the ancient homeland
of nearly a dozen Indiantribes, including the Cowlitz,
Nisqually, Puyallup, and Yakima, who called it
Tahoma, the big mountain where the waters begin.
White settlers called it Mount Rainier.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: Altogether,this is the richest subalpine
garden I ever found, a perfect floral elysium.
The icy dome needs not a man'scare, but unless the reserve
is guarded, the flowerbloom will soon be killed,
and nothing of the forest will be left but black
COYOTE: A broad coalition,including the Sierra Club,
the National Geographic Society, and the Northern
Pacific Railroad, worked hardwith Muir for more than 5
years, and on March 2, 1899,Mount Rainier became the
nation's fifth national park.
MAN: When on the streets Imeet young girls and matrons
with their kindly facesand see the egrets in their
bonnets and hats, I cannothelp feeling that these
daughters of Eve do not know how these feathers
These plumes only grow whilethe bird is rearing its young,
and I believe that if most ofthe women who wear them knew
they were obtained by shootingthe mother on her nest,
they would be ashamed tokeep them, even in secret,
much less to display them on the public streets.
John F. Lacey.
COYOTE: For centuries,the nation's greatest breeding
ground for its most beautifulplumed birds was southern
Florida, where the fresh waters of Lake Okeechobee
drained slowly toward the Gulfof Mexico, through cypress
swamps and mangrove forests and the biggest saw grass marsh
in the world, the Everglades.
and nearly 95% of Florida'sshorebirds had been killed by
More than 5 million birds ayear were perishing to satisfy
the demand of the latest fashion trend--using bird
feathers to decorate women's hats.
Strolling the streets of NewYork for part of an afternoon,
one ornithologist counted 542feathered hats, representing
40 different species.
Some hats included an entire stuffed bird.
MAN AS GEORGE BIRD GRINNELL:Fashion decrees feathers,
and feathers it is.
This condition of affairs mustbe something of a shock to
the leaders of the AudubonSociety, who were sanguine
enough to believe that the moral idea represented by
their movement would be enoughto influence society at large.
George Bird Grinnell.
COYOTE: The Audubon Societyhad done its best to try to
persuade women not to buy suchhats, even promoted the sale
of featherless hats calledAudubonetts decorated
It didn't work, and the millenary industry, based
principally in New York City,used its influence in Congress
to defeat a series of national laws aimed at stopping
Then an unlikely champion stepped forward.
MAN AS JOHN F. LACEY:We have a wireless telegraph,
a thornless cactus,
a seedless orange, and a coreless apple.
Let us now have a birdless hat.
John F. Lacey.
COYOTE: As the Republican party began fracturing
at the start of the 20thcentury into a progressive
wing and a group of die-hardconservatives known as
Stand-Pat Republicans,Representative John F. Lacey
of Oskaloosa, Iowa,counted himself with those
opposed to change.
But when it came to defendingwildlife or saving America's
remaining unspoiled lands, Lacey's definition
of conservative placed him notonly outside his fellow
Stand-Patters but in the vanguard of even
the most progressive politicians of the day.
MAN AS JOHN F. LACEY: The first settlers found this continent
a storehouse of energy andnational wealth, but we have
not been content with using these resources.
We have wasted them as reckless prodigals.
For more than 300 years, destruction was
Mankind must conserve theresources of nature, or the
world will, at no distant day, become as barren as
a sucked orange.
COYOTE: It had been Lacey,working with George Bird
Grinnell and TheodoreRoosevelt, who pushed through
the bill that finally gavegovernment officials the tools
they needed to protectAmerica's last wild buffalo
herd in Yellowstone.
Now, after years of ceaselesseffort, he won passage
of another landmark, the LaceyBird and Game Act of 1900.
Soon, government agents were confiscating huge shipments
of bird skins and feathers.
But the Lacey Act did notput an end to plume hunting
entirely, especially in the lawless Everglades.
5 years after the bill'spassage, a game warden was
murdered by poachers.
3 years after that,another one was gunned down.
Some people began thinkingthat the uniquely abundant
array of wildlife in southernFlorida would never be safe
unless the Evergladesitself was set aside, like
Yellowstone, as a national park.
MAN AS JOHN F. LACEY: The attempt to preserve and restore
some of the wildlife of America
is no longer looked uponas a fad or idle sentiment.
We have given an awful exhibition of slaughter
and destruction which may serve as a warning to
Let us now give an exampleof wise conservation of what
remains of the gifts of nature.
COYOTE: As America moved intoa new century, a new word--
conservation--had crept intothe nation's vocabulary.
Now a new president wouldturn the word into a movement.
MAN: Like all Americans, I like big things--big
prairies, big forests andmountains, big wheat fields,
railroads, and herds of cattle, too.
CRONON: I think it's hard to exaggerate the significance
of Theodore Roosevelt in the history
of American conservation.
He creates a presidency whenhe arrives in the White House
that sets in motion most ofthe conservation agendas that
will define the first halfof the 20th century.
MAN: The key to TeddyRoosevelt's leadership was his
passion, his audacity, the fact that he was
an inspiring public speakerand enjoyed leading the country.
He was a person who turnedthe country in a different
direction where conservation was concerned.
COYOTE: In the spring of 1903, Theodore Roosevelt once again
boarded a train headed west,and on April 8, he stepped off
at the Northern Pacificrailroad terminal just outside
of Yellowstone National Park.
He was no longer the scrawny and inexperienced Easterner
cowboys had laughed at and called "four-eyes"
20 years earlier.
He was a national hero,
the leader of the Rough Riders in the war with Spain,
a former governor of New York state,
President William McKinley's running mate in 1900,
and now, following McKinley's assassination in 1901,
the youngest president in United States history.
MAN: The president unites in himself
powers and qualities that rarely go together...
the qualities of a man of action
with those of a scholar and writer...
the instincts and accomplishments
of the best breeding and culture
with the broadest democratic sympathies.
He is doubtless the mostvital man on the continent,
if not on the planet, today.
COYOTE: Not since ThomasJefferson a century earlier
had there been an American president
with greater interest in the natural world.
JENKINSON: Roosevelt began his life as a naturalist.
He formed Theodore Roosevelt's Natural History Museum
as a child, and he was a taxidermist.
He would find snakes and mice and other creatures
and sometimes store them in the refrigerator,
the icebox of his family.
Several maids quit over this.
The house smelled of taxidermy. He had formaldehyde everywhere.
This was a young boy who was fascinated by
the idea of the museum and nature,
but all of this is preliminary.
It wasn't until he went out to Dakota in 1883
that Roosevelt really started to understand
what was at stake in the debate
about the future of nature in this country.
COYOTE: "When I hear aboutthe destruction of a species,"
he said, "I feel just as if the works
"of some great writer had perished."
JENKINSON: I think it can be said that Roosevelt invented
the national wildlife refuge system.
This was done by executive order alone.
A national park needs to be voted on
by a majority in two houses of Congress.
Roosevelt said to hisattorney general Philander Knox,
"Is there anything that would prevent me
"from naming Pelican Islandon the Indian River in Florida
"a national bird sanctuary?"
and Knox, the Attorney General, said, "No, nothing."
And so Roosevelt said, "I do declare it."
COYOTE: When Roosevelt arrived in Yellowstone,
he was in the middle of a national tour
unprecedented in its ambition.
14,000 grueling miles.
25 states. 150 towns and cities.
More than 200 speeches in the space of 8 weeks.
From the day he left Washington,
he had been looking forwardto some time off in Yellowstone,
and immediately upon his arrival,
he set off on horseback with the Army's
acting park superintendent as his host,
leaving the rest of the presidential
including his staff, his Secret Service men,
his physician, and allthe reporters covering the trip.
"As far as the world at large is concerned,"
his private secretary told the press,
"The president will be lost."
Only John Burroughs,the popular nature writer,
was allowed to come along.
The summer tourist season was still two months away,
so Roosevelt had Yellowstoneessentially to himself.
He loved every minute of it.
He delighted in seeing so many animals--
herds of mule deer anwhitetails
and pronghorn antelope, flocks of bighorn sheep.
He watched an eagle swoop down
to try to capture a yearling elk,
saw cougars feasting on the carcasses of their prey,
spent 4 hours one afternoon
looking through his field glasses,
trying to count all the elk within sight,
ultimately estimating them to number 3,000.
On Easter morning, the President of the United States
insisted on leaving the campsite entirely on his own.
He tramped 18 miles over rough ground
in order to sneak up to within 50 yards
of another elk herd,
sat down on a rock, and gazed rapturously upon them
while he ate his lunch of hardtack and sardines.
One morning,President Roosevelt was shaving,
and he had lathered up his face with shaving cream,
and he was shaving himself in the wilderness
with a little mirror,
when somebody came in and said,
"There are bighorn sheep out there
"and they're coming down this cliff."
So, Roosevelt said, "By Godfrey, I have to see that,"
and he jumps up withhalf of his face clean-shaven
and the other half full of lather
and runs out into nature to see
the bighorn sheep coming downthis nearly sheer cliff.
And Burroughs said, "What kind of president is this?"
He's just an overgrown boy who'sso enthusiastic about nature
that it infects everyone around him
with a new enthusiasm for the natural world.
COYOTE: Roosevelt was witnessing firsthand
the results of the wildlife protection bill
he and George Bird Grinnelland Congressman John Lacey
had worked so hard to pass.
The game animals were now much more numerous,
he assured Burroughs,
than when he had last visitedthe park 12 years earlier.
Still, the president was itching to shoot something.
SCHULLERY: Roosevelt will alwaysbaffle people who don't hunt
because he both loved animals and loved hunting them,
and in Yellowstone,what he really wanted to do
was shoot a mountain lion.
At the time, park managerswere killing predators.
It was something that was going on anyway.
And so to Roosevelt's mind,"Well, why not me?"
COYOTE: The president's advisers thought
killing any animal in a national park
would be bad politics
and quietly dissuaded him.
including several days traveling tin a horse-drawn sleigh
to the park's interior,
still covered in some placesby up to 6 feet of snow.
He sand skied to the rim basin of the Grand Canyon
of the Yellowstone.
But these wonders heldonly passing interest to him
compared to the park's wildlife.
In addition to the larger animals,
he recorded sightings of pine squirrels
and snowshoe hares
and scores of different birds,
including a pygmy owl, the first he had ever seen.
"He responded with boyish glee," Burroughs wrote.
"I think the president was as pleased
"as if we had bagged some big game."
At one point, Roosevelt sees a mouse
that he thinks is new to science,
so he jumps off the sleighand grabs it with his hand
and kills it and then stuffs it.
MAN AS JOHN BURROUGHS: While we all went fishing
in the afternoon, the president skinned his mouse
and prepared the pelt for Washington.
It was done as neatly as a professed taxidermist
would have done it.
This was the only game the president killed
in the park.
COYOTE: On April 24, at the end of Roosevelt's visit,
the entire population ofthe town of Gardiner, Montana,
gathered at the park's north entrance
for a special ceremony.
A new arch to welcome visitors to Yellowstone
was under construction,
and the president had agreed to speak
at the layingof the arch's cornerstone.
For the occasion, Roosevelt reluctantly
changed out of his camping clothes,
put on a business suit,
and rode through town to the awaiting crowd.
He watched as the cornerstonewas carefully put into place,
then climbed to a rough platform
on the stonework of the incomplete pillar
and began to speak.
MAN AS THEODORE ROOSEVELT:The Yellowstone Park
is something absolutely unique in the world,
so far as I know.
This park was created and is now administered
for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.
The scheme of its preservation
is noteworthy in its essential democracy.
The only way that the people as a whole
can secure to themselves and their children
the enjoyment in perpetuity
of what the Yellowstone park has to give
is by assuming ownership in the name of the nation
and jealously safeguarding and preserving
the scenery, the forests, and the wild creatures.
JENKINSON: Roosevelt argued that the parks
are a democratic experience.
That was his essential argument about the national parks,
that the rich peoplealways have their playgrounds,
they know how to amuse themselves,
and that America as a classless society
needs to have places whereyregular human beings can go
and stand side by sidewith the rich and privileged
and enjoy the same experience
and not be made to feel that they are somehow less.
And so his primary argumentwas that the national parks
are a democratic experiment in nature.
COYOTE: Before he got back on the train
to resume his trip,
Roosevelt also deliberately quoted
from the act of Congress that had made Yellowstone
the world's first national park--
"for the benefit and enjoyment of the people."
Later, when the arch was finally completed,
that phrase would be permanently carved into its mantle
so that everyone who entered Yellowstone
would be reminded of why the park was there
and for whom.
JOHNSON: I remember the firsttime I arrived in Yellowstone,
I got off the bus right outside the north entrance,
where there's that wonderful stone arch that says
"For the benefit and enjoyment of the people."
It doesn't say,"For the benefit and enjoyment
"of some of the people, or a few of the people."
It says, "All of the people,"
and for me, that meant democracy,
and for me, that meant I was welcome,
and I stepped outside, and as I was
stepping down onto the ground,
there was bison, a 2,000-pound animal walking by,
and there was no one else around.
The bison was just strolling by.
And I looked up at the driver and I said,
"Does this happen all the time?"
and he looked at me and said, "All the time."
And I said to myself, "I've arrived,"
and I can't imagine being in any other place,
and to be honest with you,once I stepped off that bus,
I never got back on.
COYOTE: Two weeksafter leaving Yellowstone,
Roosevelt's whirlwind tour brought him
to Arizona's Grand Canyon
for a brief stop on the way
from New Mexico to southern California.
Roosevelt had never before seen the Grand Canyon,
and he was overwhelmed bythe vista from the south rim.
He longed to spend more time there,
but his schedule permitted only this quick visit
and a few remarks to the crowd that had gathered to greet him.
MAN AS THEODORE ROOSEVELT: I want to ask you to do one thing
in connection with it
in your own interest and inthe interest of the country.
Keep this great wonder of nature as it now is.
Leave it as it is. You cannot improve it.
The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.
What you can do is to keep it for your children,
your children's children,and for all who come after you
as one of the great sights which every American,
if he can travel at all, should see.
JENKINSON: The great statement in this speech is
"Leave it as it is.
"The ages have been at work on it
"and man can only mar it."
Nothing has ever been saidabout the national parks
as fine as that.
The idea for Rooseveltwas that humans have an itch
to change things...
but the beauty of the Grand Canyon
is when you look at it and you see nothing
that humans have constructed.
It's a magnificent thing that he said,
and if that were the one wilderness statement
of American life,
I believeit's greater than Thoreau.
I believe that it's greater than John Muir.
"Leave it as it is.The ages have been at work on it
"and man can only mar it"
should be the motto in front of every national park
in the country.
And if you think that this was said
by a man on a 14,000-mile trip in which he gave 262 speeches
more or less off the top of his head
on seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time,
you realize whatpresidential greatness can be.
COYOTE: Then Roosevelt was gone...
and by the next day, he was
whistle-stopping his way through California,
giving 2 to 3 speeches a day,
attending banquets and dinners in his honor,
presiding at dedications and groundbreakings,
setting the frenetic pacethat had become his hallmark.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: Nothing can be done well
at a speed of 40 miles a day.
Far more time should be taken.
Walk away quietly in any direction
and taste the freedom of the mountaineer.
Climb the mountainsand get their good tidings.
Nature's peace will flow into you
as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you
and the storms their energy
while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
COYOTE: By 1903, John Muir was 65
and more famous than ever.
Mountain peaks and canyons,campsites and glaciers
now bore his name.
Magazine editors besieged himwith requests for articles.
The Sierra Club he had founded was growing steadily,
and the hikes he personally led into the mountains
were always the club's most heavily attended.
People loved to hear him preach his deeply held gospel
that salvation could be found through immersion
in the natural world.
WOMAN: John Muir was there,
mounted on the horsewhich he rode now and then,
when no woman would accept the loan of it.
He was rapt, entranced.
He threw up his arms in a grand gesture.
"This is the morning of creation," he cried.
"The whole thing is beginning now."
"The mountains are singing together."
COYOTE: For nearly a decade now,
he had been struggling to have the Yosemite Valley
given back to the federal government
and made part of the larger Yosemite National Park.
But nothing he seemed to say or do
had proven successful.
Things remained at a standstill in the spring of 1903,
as Muir prepared to leave hishome in Martinez, California,
and embark on a trip to Europeand Asia with some friends.
Suddenly, his plans changed.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: An influential man from Washington
wants to make a trip into the Sierra with me,
and I might be able to do some forest good,
in freely talking around the campfire.
COYOTE: It was the president,
still working his way up through California,
asking Muir to accompany him during a visit to Yosemite.
"I do not want anyone with me but you,"
Roosevelt had written.
"I want to drop politics absolutely
"and just be out in the open with you."
Muir realized this wasthe opportunity of a lifetime.
He purchased a brand-new woolen suit for the occasion
and hurried to jointhe presidential entourage.
On May 15, they set off for the Mariposa Grove of big trees
in a flurry of activity.
A long caravan of wagons filled with staff and dignitaries,
a detachment of 30 buffalo soldiers
riding along as escorts.
Muir soon found himself seated in the president's coach
along with the governor of California,
the Secretary of the Navy, the Surgeon General,
two college presidents,
and Roosevelt's personal secretary.
It was hardly the trip he had been promised,
but Muir tried his best to squeeze in words
to the president and governor
about the issue of makingall of Yosemite a national park.
In the grove of mighty sequoias,
the president's group paused, as all tourists did,
for a snapshot at the famous Wawona tunnel tree,
and later, they posedfor an official photograph,
lined up along the base of the Grizzly Giant,
the oldest and most famous sequoia in Yosemite,
estimated to be 2,700 years old
and boasting a single branchthat was 6 1/2 feet in diameter.
Then the troops, the phalanx of reporters and photographers,
and virtually all of the official party
headed back to the Wawona Hotel,
where a series of receptions and a grand dinner
were scheduled in the president's honor
None of them knew that Roosevelthad no intention of attending.
Instead, he remained behind with only John Muir
and a few park employees,
who started preparing a camp
at the base of one of the sequoias,
part of a secret plan Roosevelt had hatched
to allow him time alone with the trees
and the man who considered them sacred.
They built a fire and sat around it,
eating a simple supper, talking as twilight enveloped them,
getting to know one anotherin the glow of the blaze.
MAN AS THEODORE ROOSEVELT: The night was clear,
and in the darkening aislesof the great sequoia grove,
the majestic trunks,beautiful in color and symmetry,
rose around us like the pillars of a mightier cathedral
than ever was conceived even by the fervor of the Middle Ages.
Hermit thrushes sang beautifully in the evening.
JENKINSON: And Muir said,
"I fell in love with this Theodore Roosevelt."
I mean, he actually used those words.
"You can't resist this man.I fell in love with him."
Roosevelt, interestingly enough,
came back and complained a little bit about Muir
and said, "He doesn't know his bird songs."
Roosevelt's an ornithologist.
He knows everything there is to know about birds.
But Muir also got one off on Roosevelt.
He said to him, "Mr. President,
"when are you going to get over this infantile need you have
"to kill animals?"
Roosevelt would not have takenthat from any other human being.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: I had a perfectly glorious time
with the president and the mountains.
I never before had a more interesting,
hearty, and manly companion.
I stuffed him pretty wellregarding the timber thieves
and other spoilers of the forest.
COYOTE: Long after sundown,
with no tent and only a pile of army blankets,
the two men finally went to sleep.
COYOTE: The next morning at 6:30,
they saddled up for the longride to Yosemite Valley,
with the guide understrict orders from the president
to avoid at all costs the Wawona Hotel
and the delegation of officials he had jilted the night before.
In the high country near Glacier Point,
with its spectacular panorama of the valley
and its waterfalls arrayed at their feet,
they stopped and once more made camp
at a spot their guide-- Charlie Leidig--had picked out.
MAN AS CHARLIE LEIDIG: Aroundthe campfire, Roosevelt and Muir
talked far into the night regarding Muir's glacial theory
of the formation of Yosemite Valley.
They also talked a great deal
about the protection of forests in general
and Yosemite in particular.
I heard them discussing the setting aside
There was some difficultyin their campfire conversation
because both men wanted to do the talking.
COYOTE: They awoke the next morning,
covered by a light snow thathad fallen in the high country
during the night.
Rather than feeling inconvenienced,
the president couldn't have been more delighted.
"We slept in a snowstorm last night,"
he exclaimed to the crowds
that had been patiently waiting for him on the valley floor.
"This," he said, "has beenthe grandest day of my life."
After camping one more night alone with Muir,
the president was picked up and escorted
back to the train station for the resumption
of his cross-country tour.
And when he spoke at the state capital in Sacramento
a day later,
Roosevelt's words soundedas if they could have come
from the lips of John Muir.
MAN AS THEODORE ROOSEVELT:Lying out at night under those
sequoias was lying in a templebuilt by no hand of man.
A temple grander than any human architect
could by any possibility build,
and I hope for the preservation of the groves of giant trees
simply because it would bea shame to our civilization
to let them disappear.
They are monuments in themselves.
I want them preserved.
We are not building this country of ours for a day.
It is to last through the ages.
COYOTE: Within 3 years,the California legislature
and United States Congress
approved the transfer of the Yosemite Valley
and Mariposa big trees
back to the federal government.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: I am now an experienced lobbyist.
My political education is complete.
Have attended the legislature,
made speeches, explained, exhorted,
persuaded every mother's son of the legislators,
newspaper reporters, who would listen to me.
And now that the fight is finished
and my education as a politician and lobbyist is finished,
I am almost finished myself.
COYOTE: Yosemite National Park
now encompassed almost everything
Muir had been fighting for.
"Sound the timbrel," he wrote a friend,
"and let every Yosemite tree and stream rejoice."
JOHNSON: I remember one day I was walking
in the Cook's Meadow,
which is the meadow in thecentral part of Yosemite Valley,
and there was a woman there,
and she was just looking up and around her
and she just kept saying, "Oh. Oh, my.
I looked at her, I said,"Ma'am, are you all right?"
She said, "Yes, I'm just fine. I just--oh."
I didn't have to talk to her about
the transcendent experience.
She was having one, and itwasn't a transcendent experience
because it was a national park.
It was transcendent because it was Yosemite Valley.
But because it had become a national park,
she could havethat transcendent experience.
And that's commonplace in Yosemite.
And where else can you getan experience like that?
WOMAN: In other parts of the world,
there are certain areas that are preserved
because some rich noblemanout of the goodness of his heart
decided to decree it.
But in the United States, you don't have to be
dependent on some rich guy being generous to you.
To me that's what national parks mean.
It's a symbol of democracy,democracy when it works well.
At its best.
COYOTE: Back in 1870,
a 15-year-old boy in Kansaswas idly reading the newspaper
that had been used to wrap his lunch.
He came across an article
about a mysterious sunken lake in Oregon
and he vowed to visit it one day.
It would take William Gladstone Steel
15 years to get there.
MAN AS WILLIAM STEEL: Imagine a vast mountain,
6 by 7 miles through,
at an elevation of 8,000 feet with the top removed
and the inside hollowed out,
then filled with the clearest water in the world,
and you have a perfect representation
of Crater Lake.
COYOTE: When a volcanic eruption
witnessed by the ancestors of the Klamath Indians
blew the top off a mountain peakin the Cascades 7,700 years ago,
the hole that was left began slowly filling
with each year's rainfall and snowmelt.
The result was Crater Lake--
at 1,942 feet, the deepest lake in America.
Because it is filledalmost entirely by snowfall,
the lake is also the world's clearest.
An 8-inch disc lowered into its sky-blue waters
is still visible 142 feet below the surface.
William Steel resolved that it should be protected forever,
just like Yellowstone and the other parks.
That quest took him another 17 years
of tireless promotion and lobbying
before he finally succeeded in 1902,
when Crater Lake became the nation's
sixth national park.
And it had all happened
because of this accidental lunchtime reading
32 years earlier.
DUNCAN: The parks, they'rethe greatest spots on earth,
wonderful natural places,
but the story of national parks
really isn't a story about the place.
It's--it's the story of people
who fell in love with those places,
people who became so devoted to them
that they wanted to do anything they could to save them.
SMITH: Richard Wetherill.
He's broadening out from Mesa Verde.
He wants to make people aware
that we have such a treasure, such a heritage here,
and yet here's this cowboy.
A cowboy, and we all know what cowboys are.
We read in our dime novels.
They can't be doing anything scholarly.
COYOTE: Despite his lack of formal education,
Richard Wetherill wanted to be taken seriously
as an archaeologist.
He had left Mesa Verdeand began scouring the Southwest
in search of other ruins.
His journey took him fromColorado to Utah and Arizona
and finally to New Mexico, to a place called Chaco Canyon.
another eerily silent set of ruins
left behind by the ancient Puebloans.
With wallsof remarkable workmanship,
some rising 5 stories,
Pueblo Bonito, the biggest ruin,
contained remnants of an enclosed plaza,
35 circular kivas,
more than 2 acres honeycombed by 650 rooms,
connected by small passageways and doors.
The religious and cultural hub of the civilization
that had dominated the surrounding region
between 850 A.D. and 1200 A.D.
By itself, Pueblo Bonito was several times larger
than anything at Mesa Verde
and it sat in the midst of an array
of nearly a dozen other significant ruins.
Wetherill moved there with his wife Marietta,
filed a homestead claim,
and hired nearly 100 Navajosto help with the excavations.
Though Wetherill tried to carry on his work
as carefully and scientifically as possible,
professional archaeologists still dismissed him
as a pothunter.
And as the relics he was unearthing
reached eastern museums,
50,000 pieces of turquoise,10,000 pieces of pottery,
5,000 stone implements, and much more,
they clamored for the governmentto do something to stop him.
SMITH: Richard Wetherill was very careful
identifying everything he found.
He was ahead ofthe professional archaeologists,
which is an oxymoron at that time,
but he was ahead of them,
and I think they were jealous of him.
There's a snobbishness.
Educated Easterners can't believe
that a western cowboy could possibly be doing these things.
COYOTE: For his part, Wetherill said,
he would gladly turn over any portions of Chaco Canyon
if the federal government would simply do something
to protect them.
But the criticism of Wetherill's work
would not go away.
COYOTE: Meanwhile, back at Mesa Verde,
the ruins Wetherill had firstdiscovered were in danger.
Thieves, pot hunters, and tourists
were flocking to the site,
sometimes even setting off,damasticks of dynamitetruc
simNow a new group awa had taken up the cause
of protecting its treasures.
WOMAN: Mesa Verde seems to be set apart
for a park,
and to make and keep it as such
is the aim of the ColoradoCliff Dwellings Association
COYOTE: Virginia McClurg was a well-known lecturer
with a seemingly boundless determination
to leave her mark on the world.
She gathered a group of women
into the ColoradoCliff Dwellings Association,
wrote personal letters to the president,
held rummage sales, and solicited
10-cent contributions from other women's groups
across the country.
And it was working.
Support for protecting Mesa Verde
had become a national cause.
But just when Congress seemed ready to act,
it became clear to those around her
that Virginia McClurg had a different vision
of how Mesa Verde should be preserved.
WOMAN AS VIRGINIA McCLURG: I do not see why
this small and compact tract in the proposed park
should not be under the protective care
of a body of 125 women with hereditary membership
who know more about the matterand care about the matter
than anyone else.
Virginia became so engrossed in it
that it suddenly was not our park as a nation,
it was her park.
COYOTE: Twice McClurg even negotiated leases
between her group and the Ute Indians
only to have the federal government remind her
that private citizens cannot make treaties.
The uproar she created
threatened to derail the bill in Congress
at the very moment it seemed headed for passage.
Even some of her closest allies
now suspected that Virginia McClurg
had lost sight of the real goal.
Lucy Peabody, the association's vice regent,
had preferred to get results rather than grab headlines.
She believed that only as a national park
could Mesa Verde be properlysaved for future generations,
and now felt compelled to resign from the association.
With her went many other members,
including some of the group'smost nationally prominent women.
McClurg, once the darling of the press,
found herself disparaged in newspaper editorials.
SMITH: There was a sadness in all this.
At the moment of your greatestachievement, you lose it.
I--I think it's a normal reaction.
This becomes so possessive with her
that to have it within your grasp, right there,
and it's gone.
COYOTE: On June 29, 1906,
President Roosevelt signed the law
creating Mesa Verde National Park,
the first of its kind,
meant to celebratenot majestic natural scenery
but a prehistoric culture and its people.
With Mesa Verde protected,
anger over Richard Wetherill's excavations
at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico boiled over
and set in motion eventsthat would change the course
of park history.
SMITH: The bill for Mesa Verdewas just for Mesa Verde,
There's sites all over bu the Southwest,
and the same thing's happening there.
COYOTE: Once more,Representative John F. Lacey
came to the rescue of placesnowhere near and nothing like
his native Iowa.
He sponsored a new bill to make
any unauthorized disturbanceof any prehistoric ruin
a federal crime.
The act for the preservationof American antiquities
also granted the president of the United States
an extraordinary power:
the exclusive authority without any Congressional approval
to set aside places that would be called
not national parks but national monuments.
MAN: John F. Lacey gave the president
the greatest power a president could ever have
for the preservation of nature,
which allowed the president to do
something as simple as pick up a pen
and declare an area of the public domain
a national monument,
and since Teddy Roosevelt happened to be
the president at the time,
was that a gift or what?
Teddy Roosevelt picked up that pen
and started creating national monuments
and the country would never be the same again.
COYOTE: Roosevelt quicklyput his new powers to use.
a unique mass of grooved rock sacred to several Indian tribes
rising nearly 900 feet abovethe plains of eastern Wyoming.
It was called Devil's Tower.
Then he named El MorroNational Monument in New Mexico,
a rock abutment bearingprehistoric Indian petroglyphs
as well as the inscriptionsof early Spanish expeditions
that had come north from Mexico 300 years earlier
and founded a colony 15 years before the Pilgrims
landed at Plymouth Rock.
And on March 11, 1907,
he did exactly whatRichard Wetherill had wanted
and created Chaco Canyon National Monument.
Roosevelt would also use the antiquities act
to protect an endangered grove of coastal redwoods
north of San Francisco
named in honor of the man whohad first introduced Roosevelt
to the giant trees--
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: The man ofscience, the naturalist,
too often loses sight of the essential oneness
of all living beings
in seeking to classify them in kingdoms,
orders, species, etc.
While the eye of the poet, the seer,
never closes on the kinshipof all God's creatures.
And his heart ever beats in sympathy
with great and small alike
as Earth-borne companions and fellow mortals
equally dependent on Heaven's eternal love.
COYOTE: In 1905, John Muir'slife had been beset by sorrow.
His devoted life Louie died of lung cancer
and he buried her next to her parents
near an orchard on their farm.
President Roosevelt,who had lost his first wife
as a young man,
and then found solace in the open spaces of the west,
sent his personal condolences.
"Get out among the mountainsand trees, friend," he wrote.
"They will do more for you than either man or woman could."
But the aging mountaineer went instead
to the deserts of Arizona,
where it was hoped his daughter Helen
might recover from pneumonia.
and discovered that in fact he was, once again,
in a majestic forest,
only this one was 200 million years old
and all of the trees had long ago fossilized
into solid rock.
It was the petrified forest.
EHRLICH: I think parks represent the wildness inside us.
They're the place where we can be lonely,
where we can experience solitude.
They're a place we go to as refuge, as sanctuary.
It's a place we go out to to come back in.
It's the only place perhaps left in many people's lives
where that's possible.
COYOTE: Soon, Muir was himself again,
sometimes taking total strangers on long walks
through the tumbled and broken stone trees.
In what he now called
"these enchanted carboniferous forests,"
he loved nothing more than to sit
near the trunk of a petrified tree
and inspect it minutely with a magnifying glass.
But even this forest was endangered.
Scin hopes of findingiteamethyst crystals inside them.
Boxcar loads of petrified wood were being shipped east
to be made into tabletops and mantelpieces.
An enormous stone crusher was being constructed
to pulverize the logs for useas industrial abrasives.
For years, John F. Lacey had been trying to protect the area
by making it a national park.
Congress would not go along.
But John Muir knew somebody
who now could save his enchanted forest
with a stroke of his pen.
President Roosevelt invokedthe antiquities act again,
and Petrified ForestNational Monument was created.
MAN AS THEODORE ROOSEVELT: There is nothing more practical
than the preservation of beauty,
than the preservation of anything
that appeals to the higher emotions of mankind.
I believe we are past the stage of national existence
when we could look on complacently
at thendividual who skinned the land
and was content for the sakeof 3 years' profit for himself
to leave a desert for the children of those
who were to inherit the soil.
JENKINSON: If government doesn't protect
the weakest elements of humanity
and the weakest elements of nature...
the whole game is lost.
That wasan incredible breakthrough
for a man who grew up
in a profoundly Republican household
in an age of J.P. Morgan and John Rockefeller.
There's a paradox at the verycenter of American life.
We are meant to bethe most materially happy,
wealthiest, most privileged people who ever lived on Earth.
That's one version of the American dream.
We are also Thoreau's Americans and Jefferson's Americans,
and Roosevelt's Grand Canyon Americans.
We want that, and somehowwe've gotten it into our heads
that we can have both,
and maybe we can.
But Roosevelt understoodthat we can only have both
if we severely restrain our acquisitive energies
for some parts of this continent.
That's the key.
UDALL: We used to talk about Teddy Roosevelt
having distance in his eyes...
and that's what's important, is to have this
strong, powerfulpart of our heritage vivid
so that people can understand it and appreciate it.
COYOTE: Before his presidency was over,
he would create 5 new national parks,
51 federal bird sanctuaries,4 national game refuges,
18 national monuments,
and more than 100 million acres worth of national forests.
Now Roosevelt wanted one morenational park added to his list,
the place he had urged the citizens of Arizona
to leave as it is--the grandest canyon on Earth.
Developers were already erecting buildings,
miners were filing claims,
and ranchers were grazing cattle all along the south rim.
But even Theodore Rooseveltcould not persuade Congress
Local sentiment and vested interests
were just too powerful.
The president looked for some way, any way
to prevent the canyon from becoming
another commercialized Niagara Falls.
He found his solution in the antiquities act.
CRONON: It was written basically to try to prevent
the destruction of Indian archaeological sites
in the American southwest,
the idea being thatthere were people going in
and robbing these graves,
and that that needed to be stopped.
And so a law is written that says the president
can very quickly set aside a tract of land
as a national monument,
and that's a fairly narrow purpose.
But there were no restrictions in the law,
and Teddy Roosevelt quite quickly realized
that you could set aside land
for reasons other than archaeology,
and the great beneficiary of that law would be
the Grand Canyon.
COYOTE: The wording of the antiquities act
"objects of historicon and scientific interest,"
and though it had contemplatedonly small-sized parcels,
up to then, no more thanit did not absolutely restrict
the number of acres a president could set aside.
On January 11, 1908,declaring the Grand Canyon
"an object of unusual scientific interest,
"being the greatest eroded canyon
"within the United States,"
Roosevelt set aside 806,400 acres
as a national monument.
It would not enjoy the same protections
as a national park,
but it was a step in the right direction.
Politicians in Arizona were outraged
and threatened to challenge Roosevelt in court.
Members of Congress complained
that the presidenthad overstepped his authority.
He ignored them all.
UDALL: A lot of Westerners, powerful Westerners,
Congressmen, senators,were opposed and critical...
and that was partof Teddy Roosevelt's power,
that he could overwhelmthe wishes of local people
and dared to do it.
JENKINSON: Well, there was furor.
There is always furor when these things happen.
But Roosevelt understood
that short-term controversy over nature
leads to long-term benefit.
Roosevelt's view was that an intact environment
is infinitely more valuablespiritually and economically
than an extracted one.
UDALL: But history always vindicates,
always vindicates what they did.
There's not a single person in Arizona today
who would say the Grand Canyon was a mistake.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR:The very first reservation
that ever was made in this world,
the garden of Eden, contained only one tree.
The smallest reservation that ever was made.
Yet no sooner was it made
than it was attackedby everybody in the world--
the devil, one woman, and one man.
This has been the history of every reservation
that has been made since that time,
that is, as soon asa reservation is once created,
then the thieves and the devil and his relations
come forward to attack it.
DUNCAN: He said, "Nothing dollarable is safe"...
and it's like this insight into human beings,
but particularly Americans.
He understood this relentless grasp
of American commerce.
It wants to reach into everything.
And he realized that if a dollar value
could be attached to,in his mind, a sacred place,
it was vulnerable.
COYOTE: Since the start of the 20th century,
the city of San Francisco had been looking
for a better supply of water to fuel its growth,
and it had set its sights on the Tuolumne River
and the Hetch Hetchy Valley
as the perfect place for a dam and reservoir,
a narrow valley remote enough to assure
that the waters trappedfrom the yearly Sierra runoff
would stay pure.
The fact that it was within the boundaries
of Yosemite National Park
only added to itsattractiveness to city planners.
No competing claims to water rights existed.
The only land owner to deal withwas the federal government.
Damming and flooding Hetch Hetchy
would be cheaper and easier than finding alternative sites.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: Thatanyone would try to destroy
such a place seems incredible,
but sad expeence shows that there are people
good enough and bad enough for anything.
COYOTE: To John Muir, allowing a dam
in any national park
would betray the very purpose of parks,
and even worse in his eyes,
set a dangerous precedent for the future.
Hetch Hetchy was among hisfavorite places in Yosemite.
He called it "one of nature's rarest
"and most precious mountain temples."
With its own majestic waterfalls and massive granite faces,
it had all the beauty of the more famous Yosemite Valley
20 miles to the south, he said,
without the clutter of tourist hotels.
When he had helped draw the boundary lines
for the national park back in 1890,
he had deliberately included Hetch Hetchy.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: These temple destroyers,
devotees of ravaging commercialism,
seem to have a perfect contempt for nature,
and instead of lifting their eyes
to the god of the mountains,
lift them to the almighty dollar.
Dam Hetch Hetchy.
As well, dam for water-tanks
the people's cathedrals and churches,
for no holier temple has ever been consecrated
by the heart of man.
COYOTE: At first,Muir's view had prevailed.
Theodore Roosevelt's interior secretary
turned down San Francisco'sapplication 3 different times.
Then on April 18, 1906, a tremendous earthquake
had shaken San Francisco,
bringing down hundreds of buildings
and igniting fires that consumed most of the city,
With San Francisco reduced to ashes,
politicians redoubled their efforts
for a reservoir at Hetch Hetchy,
claiming falsely that its water supply
could have prevented the destruction.
In a referendum, San Franciscans voted 7-1
in favor of the dam.
The city's mayor launched a campaign
attacking Muir's character
for trying to obstruct the project.
Even Muir's own Sierra Club split over the issue,
with some prominent members advocating the dam.
MAN: They loved Yosemite,
but they loved Yosemite in a kind of additive way.
It wasn't at the core of theirunderstanding of America.
And for them in San Francisco, the city came first.
COYOTE: Meanwhile, an old adversary of Muir's
stepped forward on the city's behalf--
As the nation's top forester
and President Roosevelt's trusted adviser,
Pinchot had become one of the most powerful
men in Washington.
At his urging, Roosevelt had reserved
millions of acres of western land
as national forests
in the faceof Congressional opposition.
Pinchot steadfastly believed
that conservation meant wise use of nature,
not preserving it for its own sake,
and he had never been a wholehearted supporter
of national parks,
let alone John Muir's unbending vision
of protecting and expanding them.
When a new interior secretaryjoined the administration,
Pinchot began lobbying him in support of the dam.
In response, Muir once again took his case
to the man with whom he had shared
3 magical nights in the park back in 1903--
the outdoorsman he considereda friend and kindred spirit.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: April 21,1908. Dear Mr. President,
a few promoters of the present scheme
all show forth a proud set of confidence
that comes from a good, sound, substantial
Hetch Hetchy is one of the most sublime and beautiful
and important features of the park,
and to dam and submerge it
would be hardly less destructive and deplorable
than would be the damming of Yosemite itself.
Faithfully and devotedly yours, John Muir.
MAN AS THEODORE ROOSEVELT: My dear Mr. Muir,
Pinchot is rather favorableto the Hetch Hetchy plan.
I have sent him your letter
with a request for a report on it.
I will do everything in my power
to protect not only the Yosemite,
which we have already protected,
but other similar great natural beauties of this country.
But you must rememberthat it is out of the question
permanently to protect them,
unless we have a certain degree of friendliness toward them
on the part of the people of the state
in which they are situated.
CRONON: What makes the conflict between Muir and Pinchot
so bitter, so personal
is that 2 really wonderfulvisions of the human good,
both of which are worth celebrating,
are on a collision course,
and that collision course meets
in Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park.
For one man, Muir, that valley and that park
are a cathedral,
and anything that might desecrate that cathedral
It is a--it is a sacrilege against God.
For the other man, Pinchot,
these are resources that serve the common good.
These are resources for a democracy.
COYOTE: But Pinchot was in Washington
and Muir was in California.
Pinchot's view prevailed.
Pending Congressional approval,
the interior secretary grantedSan Francisco's application,
calling it "the greatest benefit
"to the greatest number of people."
President Roosevelt did nothing to stop it.
Muir was devastated.
But the fight was not over.
A year later, with Rooseveltout of the White House,
the new president, William Howard Taft,
came to California on his own tour of Yosemite,
and to the dismay ofSan Francisco's politicians,
chose Muir as his guide.
Before the visit was over, Taft decided to oppose the dam.
By 1913, however,
yet another president had taken office--
Woodrow Wilson, who choseas his secretary of the interior
Franklin K. Lane, the formercity attorney for San Francisco.
Lane wasted no time gettingthe project back on track.
Muir was now 75, and the longbattle over Hetch Hetchy
had taken its toll.
Ten years earlier, he had anticipated
completing 20 books in his old age.
Because of what he called "this everlasting
"Hetch Hetchy business,"
he had managed to finish only 2.
"I wonder," he wrote his daughter,
"if leaves feel lonely when theysee their neighbors falling."
Still, he soldiered on, speaking, writing,
urging anyone who would listen
not to flood the exquisite valley.
"I still think we can win," Muir said
in November of 1913, adding,
"anyhow, I'll be relieved when it's settled,
"for it's killing me."
3 weeks later, the bill approving the dam
cleared its final hurdle in Congress.
President Wilsonquickly signed it into law.
MAN: It was sorrowful indeed
to see him sitting in his cobwebbed study
in his lonely house
with the full force of his defeat upon him
after the struggle of a lifetime in the service of Hetch Hetchy.
I could not but think thatif Congress, the president,
and even the San Francisco contingent could have seen him,
they would certainly have been willing
to have delayed any actionuntil the old man had gone away.
And I fear that is going to be very soon...
as he appeared to me to be breaking very fast.
COYOTE: Exhausted and frail,
Muir forced himself to finish a book
on his travels in Alaska.
He built new bookcases in the big, empty house
he had once shared with his wife Louie
and their 2 children.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR:The battle for conservation
will go on endlessly.
It is part of the universal warfare
between right and wrong.
Fortunately, wrong cannot last.
Soon or late, it must fall back home to Hades,
while some compensating good must surely follow.
They will see what I meant in time.
There must be places for human beings
to satisfy their souls--
food and drink is not all.
There is the spiritual.
In some, it is only a germ, of course.
But the germ will grow.
COYOTE: In December of 1914,he came down with pneumonia.
On Christmas Eve, John Muir,
the wilderness prophet who had struggled so hard
to get his adopted country to experience
the blessings of nature, died.
POPE: I think when John Muir walked into Yosemite,
a century-long conversation began...
and it was a conversation about the nature of America
and about whether we were going to remain
what Lincoln called"the last best hope of Earth"
or whether we were simply going to become another Europe.
And John Muir's encounter with Yosemite--
remember, he was a European.
He came from this narrow Scots background.
He was not an American.
And he encountered Yosemiteand he imagined what America
And for a century, we've fought about
whether we liked his vision or not.
MAN: I like what he said on one occasion
where he essentially said,"the enemies of wildness
"are invincible, and they are everywhere,
"but the fight must go on...
"and for every acre that you gain,
"10,000 trees and flowers and all the other forest people
"and the usual unborn generations
"will rise up and call you blessed."
COYOTE: 4 years after Muir's death,
work on the dam he had opposedwith all his strength began,
and the Hetch Hetchy valley,
whose tranquil meadows he hadcompared to a landscape garden
and a mountain temple
would slowly be entombed underhundreds of feet of water.
But Muir's fight had strucka chord in many Americans,
who now wondered if a lovely valley
in Yosemite National Park
could be turned into a reservoir,
were any national parks safe?
CRONON: John Muir lost the fight over Hetch Hetchy
and the dam was built,
and people who live in San Francisco today
drink the water of Hetch Hetchy.
Muir died feeling thathe'd been defeated by that,
and that was a great tragedyat the end of his life.
But it's also true thatHetch Hetchy would then go on
as a kind of battle cry that would inform
all wilderness, wild land, parkland battles
from that moment on.
It looks like a defeat, and yet what's interesting about it
is that in that defeat, a whole series of people
began to wonder whetherthe parks needed more protection
than they currently had.
That there needed to be some greater rampart,
some greater wall that could defend the parks
against a future such controversy.
COYOTE: A proposal that Muir had supported
now began gaining greater ground across the nation--
to create an agencywithin the federal government
whose sole job would be to promote, administer,
and protect the national parks,
to make sure they fulfilled their great promise
and enduredfor countless generations.
MAN: Muir said...
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: As long asI live, I will hear the birds
and the winds and the waterfalls sing.
I'll interpret the rocks and learn the language
of flood, of storm and avalanche.
I'll make the acquaintance of the wild gardens
and the glaciers
and get as near to the heartof this world as I could.
And so I did. I sauntered about
from rock to rock, from grove to grove,
from stream to stream,
and whenever I met a new plant,
I would sit down beside it for a minute or a day
to make its acquaintance, hear what it had to tell.
I asked the boulders where they had been
and whither they were going
and when night found me, there I camped.
I took no more heed to save time or to make haste
than did the trees or the stars.
This is true freedom,
a good practical sort of immortality.
Captioning made possible by Friends of NCI
Captioned by the National Captioning Institute --www.ncicap.org--
ANNOUNCER: Next timeon "The National Parks"...
a new leader steps forward to protect
America'’s wild places.
MAN: Stephen Mather was the right man
in the right place at the right time.
ANNOUNCER: A federal agency iscreated to watch over the parks,
and in Arizona, a fight over the fate
of the grandest canyon on Earth.
MAN AS IRVIN S. COBB: Imaginethe very heart of the world
laid bare before our eyes.
ANNOUNCER: As"The National Parks" continues.
To further explore
"The National Parks: America'’s Best Idea,"
visit PBS online at...
"The National Parks: America'’s Best Idea,"
a film by Ken Burns is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
A companion book and CD are also available.
To order, visit shopPBS.org
or call 1-800-PLAY-PBS.
Bank of America is proud to be
exclusive corporate underwriter
for the films of Ken Burns
and hopes you enjoyed this encore presentation.
Announcer: Our national parks belong to all of us.
They are places of discovery, they are places of inspiration,
they are America's best idea.
Major funding provided by: the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.
Additional funding was provided
by the Park Foundation in support
of a clean and healthy environment;
The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations--
dedicated to strengthening America's future
the National Park Foundation,
the official charity of America's national parks;
the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation;
the Pew Charitable Trusts;
by General Motors;
by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting;
and by generous contributions to this PBS station
from viewers like you.