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Preferred Structure Name:
Mariposa Grove Wagon Roads
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 CE/BCE
End Year
End Year CE/BCE
Designer Occupation

Function and Use:

Primary Historic Function:
Primary Current Use:
Hiking Trail
Structure Contains Museum Collections?:
Other Functions or Uses:
Other Function(s) or Use(s)
Historic or Current
No records.
Physical Description:

Structure Type:
Structural Component(s)
Short Physical Description:
Several segments of abandoned wagon roads are now used as pedestrian paths.
Long Physical Description:
Several segments of abandoned wagon roads are now used as pedestrian paths. One of these is the short segment of road that formerly led from the Grizzly Giant northwest through the California Tunnel Tree. Another is an abandoned segment of a one-way exit road that passes in the vicinity of the Diamond Group (southwest of the comfort station), and descends southwest past the Clothespin Tree, continuing on to the parking area via a series of switchbacks. Although some of these trails are continue to be recognizable as wagon routes, they are currently maintained simply as pedestrian paths—leading to a loss of character in some areas.