When President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act into law on March 1, 1872, he created the National Park Service — as well as creating America’s First National Park, Yellowstone National Park.
The act was straightforward in establishing Yellowstone as a park not to be developed or sold, but to serve as a national treasure and resource: “[Yellowstone] is hereby reserved and withdrawn from settlement, occupancy, or sale under the laws of the United States, and dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people….
“That said public park shall be under the exclusive control of the Secretary of the Interior, whose duty it shall be, as soon as practicable, to make and publish such rules and regulations as he may deem necessary or proper for the care and management of the same. Such regulations shall provide for the preservation, from injury or spoliation, of all timber, mineral deposits, natural curiosities, or wonders within said park, and their retention in their natural condition.”
At the time it passed, the whole notion of a national park was unusual, to say the least. But there’s a good argument that the unique nature of Yellowstone National Park was the deciding factor in the establishment of a National Park System. So let’s raise a glass to President Grant and the legislators backing the whole notion and expense of National Parks, creating a system that has preserved Yellowstone for generations in the past and to come.
Image via the U.S. National Archives.