Wawona is perhaps the least visited area of the park though the Mariposa Grove gets its fair share. While lacking the spectacular scenery of the other two sections, it exudes an old rustic charm missing elsewhere in the park. It includes the Yosemite Pioneer History Center which has the oldest man made structures in the park and provides great insight into early settlers in the area.
It also is home to a grove of giant sequoias and if you are not going to Sequoia National Park, this is an area you should not miss. These massive trees are not only the biggest trees mass-wise in the world, they are amongst the oldest living things on the planet.
Surrounded by a stand of woods and edged by a trickly branch of the Merced River, The Pioneer Yosemite History Center presents what 19th century life was like in the shadows of El Capitan and Half Dome.
Historic buildings were moved to this Wawona site in the 1950's and '60's. Each of these buildings illustrates a era of Yosemite's history.
The first structure we encountered was the covered bridge, constructed on land owned by Galen Clark (who became the first guardian of Yosemite).
He is credited with opening the first waystation for visitors to the area and building this bridge, which crosses the Merced. It was covered by later owners, the Washburns.
The Homestead Building-this rare two-story cabin was once located in the Aspen Valley and built by the Hodgdon family--cattle ranchers from the San Joaquin Valley* (picture 2).
FYI:*JOHN MUIR(an avid preservationist) along with others, felt that domestic herds in the high country would lead to damaging the watershed and waterfalls, so worked to establish Yosemite National Park in 1890.
The Powderhouse and Jail--blasting powder for building roads at the park was stored in this building. (picture 3) In order to form roadbeds, granite rock had to be blasted from the hillsides.
The George Anderson Pioneer House(1870) was originally located at Big Meadow, northwest of Yosemite Valley (picture 5). Anderson was a miner and blacksmith, but also escorted tourists throughout this area.
When you visit Yosemite, be sure to spend some time at the Pioneer Yosemite History Center. It's a wonderful place to step back in time and see the way life was 100 years ago, and to find out how Yosemite was the inspiration for National Parks across the US, and the world.
The staff are all dressed in period costume, and speak the part as well. Don't even think of talking about your car to them, they will ask you what a 'car' is!
Located in Wawona in the southern part of the park is the Pioneer History Center focusing on Yosemite's human history and pioneer past. If you are playing golf, stopping by for a meal or staying at the Historic Wawona Hotel it's worth dropping by the Pioneer History Center right next door. There are relocated historic buildings, old carraiges, a covered bridge and horse-drawn coach rides. Interpretive signs and brochures are available for a self-guided tour.
A gift shop is near the main road. Restrooms are toward the back of the property. During busy times, overflow parking is located here with free bus transportation to the Mariposa Grove.
At the Yosemite Pioneer Village, if you're tired of walking, why not take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage? They drover will take you all around the Village, stopping along the way.
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