This Week in History: The First National Park
On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant created the first national park in America, and in the world, when he signed legislation reserving Yellowstone National Park "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people." Yellowstone was originally a part of the territories of Montana and Wyoming.
On March 2, 1899, Mt. Rainier National Park was established by President William McKinley. It was the fifth national park and covered 365 square miles. The selection of the Mt. Rainier site is largely credited to famed naturalist John Muir, who visited the site and wrote in his 1898 essay, “…above the forests there is a zone of the loveliest flowers, fifty miles in circuit and nearly two miles wide, so closely planted and luxuriant.”
Muir became known as the “Father of the National Park Service,” which was created in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson. However, the president credited with the expansion and creation of national parks is Teddy Roosevelt. He is commemorated by five park system areas, as many as Abraham Lincoln, and four more than any other president!