The National Parks: America’s Best Idea "The Scripture of Nature (1851-1890)"

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea "The Scripture of Nature (1851-1890)"

Wed, 06/08/2016 - 8:00pm

Pictured: John Muir

Credit: Courtesy of Harpers Ferry Center, Historic Photo Collection

Examine the radical idea of creating national parks for the enjoyment of everyone. 

WXXI-TV presents encore of the first episode of Ken Burns' The National Parks series, Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at 8 p.m. This sdocumentary series, directed by Ken Burns and co-produced with Dayton Duncan, is the story of an idea as uniquely American as the Declaration of Independence and just as radical: that the most special places in the nation should be preserved, not for royalty or the rich, but for everyone. As such, it follows in the tradition of Burns's exploration of other American inventions, such as baseball and jazz. 

The Scripture of Nature (1851-1890) episode examines the radical idea of creating national parks for the enjoyment of everyone. In 1851, word spread of California's beautiful Yosemite Valley, attracting visitors who wished to exploit the land for commercial gain as well as those who wished to keep it pristine. This episode relates how a Scottish-born wanderer named John Muir made protecting this land a spiritual calling. In 1864, Congress passed an act that protects Yosemite from commercial development - the first time in history that any government put forth such an idea. Control of the land was given to California. Meanwhile, a "wonderland" of geysers, mud pots, and sulfur pits in the Wyoming territory was also protected. Since it was located in a territory, rather than a state, it became America's first national park: Yellowstone.

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