Yosemite is worthless.

I mean it.

The US Senate agrees.

The Senate discussed this worthless place in 1864. Senator John Conness of California said, in reference to Yosemite, that these “premises in the Sierra Nevada mountains…are for all public purposes worthless” and “of no value to the Government.” Another senator (William Kelley of Pennsylvania) was later paraphrased as saying that Yosemite Valley was a “far inferior wonder” compared to Yellowstone.

By then, Yosemite (and its native inhabitants) had already been disrespected by the name the place had received in 1851. The Mariposa Battalion, venturing into the Yosemite area to forcibly remove all Indians they encountered, figured that they should name the place after the Indians who had (up until then) lived there. They had been told that the Indians that lived in Yosemite Valley were called “Yohemite” (or something similar). Thus, they named the place Yosemite. Unfortunately, the people living in Yosemite Valley called themselves “Ahwahneechee” (which translates to people of Ahwahnee; Ahwahnee means “place of the gaping mouth”). More unfortunately, “Yohemite” means something like “killers.” Since other local Indians apparently referred to the Ahwahneechee as Yohemites, it’s interpreted to mean “among them are killers.” It’s really unclear why they were called that.

Regardless, history is clear: Yosemite is worthless, inferior to Yellowstone, and full of killers. So, if you’re thinking of visiting Yosemite, you might reconsider: you’ll apparently have a much better experience at Yellowstone.

(You can read about the debates about creating Yosemite and Yellowstone at http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/runte1/chap3.htm and http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA96/RAILROAD/ystone.html.)

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