California State Parks commemorates the 1864 establishment of the first state park in the world. On June 30, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill granting 39,000 acres of Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove to the State of California. Never before had land been set aside to protect its natural state for the public to enjoy. This historic legislation was the beginning of not only the California State Park System, but the national park idea we know today.

Post-war attendance

Post-war attendance spikes, creating a need for more state parks.

Survey for Parks

Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. surveys California for potential parks.

Yosemite Valley becomes a park

President Lincoln grants the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove to California, establishing the first state park in the country.

James Marshall monument

James Marshall historic monument is dedicated in Coloma, overlooking site of gold discovery. This is the first California State Historic Monument, the forerunner of today’s State Historic Parks.

Galen Clark

Galen Clark is appointed “guardian” of Yosemite, making him the first California state park ranger.

Andrew Hill

Photographer Andrew Hill begins campaign to save the redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Sempervirens Club

Sempervirens Club is founded to lobby for preservation of Santa Cruz Mountains redwood forest in Big Basin as a public park.

California Redwood Park

California Redwood Park is established; now Big Basin Redwoods State Park—California’s oldest state park.

Yosemite becomes a National Park

Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove are returned to the Federal Government to become part of Yosemite National Park.

Save the Redwoods League

Save the Redwoods League is founded to preserve Humboldt Redwoods and other redwood areas.

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