The First National Park

Today’s post comes from Holly Chisholm, social media intern in our Education and Public Programs Division.

With the end of school, and the beginning of summer, we’ll be switching up some of our posts for the season.  Look for document spotlight posts like this one to learn about some of the interesting documents, photographs, and other records we have at the National Archives.

Yellowstone Park Act

“Dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”
First page of the Yellowstone Park Act, 3/1/1872. From the General Records of the United States Government. National Archives Identifier: 596351

Today’s spotlight document is the 1872 Yellowstone Park Act.  This public law was an ingenious American invention, born from a desire to protect the natural wonders of the West.  In 1864, the State of California had reserved Yosemite as parkland, but the Federal Government officially made the land at the head of Wyoming’s Yellowstone River the first national park by signing this act into effect.

The 1872 Yellowstone Park Act highlights the borders of Yellowstone National Park, and protects the wildlife, natural wonders, and resources of the area from being spoiled by settlement or profit-seekers.  It also stipulates accommodations for visitors to be built on property, and that the proceeds of such places return directly into the park for road upkeep, as well as for nature’s protection.

Yellowstone National Park is home to beautiful canyons, plains, and one of the world’s largest collection of geysers—the most famous being the one pictured here, Old Faithful.

Yellowstone National Park is home to beautiful canyons, plains, and one of the world’s largest collection of geysers—the most famous being the one pictured here, Old Faithful.
Photograph of Old Faithful Geyser Erupting in Yellowstone National Park, 1942. From the Records of the National Park Service. National Archives Identifier: 519994

Most importantly, though, this act dedicates the land to the people.  Generation after generation, we can still view America’s natural curiosities and untouched landscapes thanks to the establishment of the first national park.

You can see more about the Progressive Era or our national parks on DocsTeach, our online tool for teaching with documents.

This entry was posted in Document Spotlights and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.