There must be something in the air. Some Universal Energy of Inspiration that touches down in October, if not annually, then biannually for a brief moment in time. Or is it just coincidence that two events of such simple, yet great significance should have happened on the same date?
What had begun as an elite club for academics and wealthy travel enthusiasts was reorganized in January 1888 into “a society for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.” The National Geographic Society was incorporated a few weeks later and the first issue of the magazine was published as its official journal on October 1st.
William Morris Davis, often called the “father of American Geography” was an early member and contributor who wrote the introduction to Vol.1 of the newly minted magazine.
History became a science when it outgrew mere narration and searched for the causes of the facts narrated; when it ceased to accept old narratives as absolute records and judged them by criteria derived from our knowledge of human nature as we see it at present, but modified to accord with past conditions.
The society’s historic mission has continued for well over a hundred years, extending beyond the specifics of geography to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge while promoting the conservation of the world’s cultural, historical, and natural resources.”
And so we come to conservation.
Two years after the formation of the National Geographic Society and the magazine’s publication, the U.S. Congress declared nearly 1,200 square miles of pristine land in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California to be a national park. Naturalist John Muir and Century Magazine editor Robert Underwood Johnson lobbied heavily for the Act that created Yosemite National Park one hundred and eleven years ago today (a lucky number, indeed).
Described by Muir as “by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter,” Yosemite is made up of nearly 95% designated wilderness home to hundreds of wildlife species and thousands of Yosemite plants, and was accorded a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Towering granite rock formations, millennium lived giant sequoia trees and beautiful waterfalls make up the iconic landscape of the 3,000 feet deep and less than 2 miles wide Yosemite Valley.
Immortalized by photographers such as Carlton Watkins and Ansel Adams, Yosemite is one of the most visited (and certainly one of the most photographed) of the U.S. National Parks. We have John Muir to thank for his tireless efforts in pushing for continued and more increased conservation, influencing President Theodore Roosevelt, (himself an important force for conservation) to sign the 1906 bill that took Yosemite from state to federal control.
Climb the mountains and 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 away from you like the leaves of Autumn. –John Muir
Surely a fine example of October Air.