List of Classified Structures
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Preferred Structure Name:
Wawona Point Stone Features
Structure Number:
Other Structure Name(s):
Other Structure Name(s)
No records.
Yosemite National Park
Historic District:
Historic District
Mariposa Grove Historic District
Structure State:
Structure County:
Pacific West
Pacific Great Basin
Administrative Unit:
Yosemite National Park
Historical Significance:

National Register Status:
Determined Eligible - SHPO
National Register Date:
National Historic Landmark?:
Significance Level:
Short Significance Description:
The Mariposa Grove is nationally significant under criterion A, and at the state level under criterion C. The period of significance is 1864-1950.
Long Significance Description:
The Mariposa Grove is nationally significant under criterion A for its association with the “Conservation” and “Recreation” areas of significance. Along with the valley portion of the 1864 state grant, this grove of giant sequoias represents the first public land to be permanently set aside by Congress for the preservation of its natural scenic values. From 1864 to the present, the various managers of the grove, the State of California, the U.S. Army (at the behest of the Secretary of the Interior), and finally, the National Park Service, have striven to maintain the integrity of the grove’s ecosystem, and the preservation of the “big trees,” for which it was established. The grove embodies the birth of the American ideal that the best use of lands distinguished for their great scenic beauty is preservation; furthermore, that the best choice an enlightened federal government can make is to reserve such lands for all time for the enjoyment of the people.

In addition to the national significance of the grove under criterion A, elements of the built environment within the district also possesses significance at the state level under criterion C, under the “Architecture” and “Landscape Architecture” areas of significance. The design of the museum and the comfort station are illustrative of park service rustic architecture. The museum especially, embodies the most important principle of park service rustic design, namely the construction of buildings that harmonize with the environment through the use of locally available materials. The design of this building was of sufficient quality to warrant its inclusion in a 1935 compilation of “successful natural park structures” in which it is described as follows:

“Here are all the theoretical good features of the ideal log structure, universally known but seldom encountered in one building—simple lines, excellent scale of log work and shake roof, and massive chimney of admirable masonry and good silhouette. . . . Dwarfed in scale but not in merit by the huge trees, the presence of this simple and unassuming cabin is not the wide target for criticism that almost any other structure in so impressive a setting would be.”

The designed lookout at Wawona Point also has merit. Improvements there embody the work of the park service’s early “naturalistic” landscape design, which successfully balanced the need for development with the need to preserve the landscape. From the initiation of the “vista clearing” to completion of construction, all phases of work were overseen either by Assistant Landscape Architect John Wosky, from the Branch of Plans and Design in San Francisco, or directly by Thomas Vint, the Chief Landscape Architect for the Park Service. The resulting development enhances rather than detracts from the natural features of the district.
Construction Period:

Construction Period:
Physical Event
Begin Year
Begin Year AD/BC
End Year
End Year AD/BC
Designer Occupation

Function and Use:

Primary Historic Function:
Road Retaining Wall
Primary Current Use:
Road Retaining Wall
Structure Contains Museum Collections?:
Other Functions or Uses:
Other Function(s) or Use(s)
Historic or Current
Physical Description:

Structure Type:
Structural Component(s)
Short Physical Description:
The Wawona Point Lookout features stone retaining walls, stone-lined walks and stone (and stone and concrete) stairs.
Long Physical Description:
The principal structures that contribute to the eligibility of the Mariposa Grove are components of the system of retaining walls and paths located at Wawona Point Lookout. Prior to the 1931 construction of the current lookout, improvements consisted of a one-way loop road that “skirted a dangerous cliff.” The intent of the Wawona Point development project (beyond expansion of the parking area) was to provide an aesthetically pleasing and safe point from which to experience the view. Structural components include the battered stone retaining wall built around the cliff-side of the parking area and part of the exit road (approximately 184 feet in length); a guardrail atop the retaining wall (18 inches wide and 24 inches high); and, a 4-foot-wide sidewalk with a stone curb, constructed inside the retaining wall. The rubble masonry retaining wall is constructed with local granite, obtained from boulders hauled from the vicinity of the Grizzly Giant. Sand for the mortar was obtained from Big Creek, and mixed with cement and water hauled from the vicinity of the museum. The guardrail is constructed with irregular courses of cut granite—from the same source as that used in the retaining wall. Additional stone retaining walls with parapet guardrails support two lower lookout platforms—each designed to accommodate a half dozen people. These walls are constructed in the same manner as the parking lot wall—mortared granite rubble with a 24"-high guardrail on top. The northern most of the two is built upon a natural protuberance in the bedrock that outcrops below the cliff edge, and is integrated into a loop trail. From the north end of the parking lot, one segment of the trail leads down slope via a stone and concrete stair with a metal pipe railing to the overlook platform. (The concrete stairs and the metal pipe railing are not original design features.) From the base of the south end of the parking lot, one can either ascend to the parking area by means of another set of stone stairs, or, proceed to the second (south) lookout platform. The south lookout platform is constructed on a relatively steep section of hillside and consequently required a more substantial retaining wall than the north platform. The area behind both of the lower retaining walls is back-filled (with material excavated from the parking lot), to form the lookout platform.