October 1, 1890 – Cartoon National Park

On October 1, 1890, the U.S. Congress effectively signs 1,500 square miles of California’s Sierra Nevadas, as Yosemite National Park.  Though most people are familiar with Yosemite National Park, below are some little known facts that will probably be new to you:

1.   Yosemite National Park derived its name from the battle cry of the Native Americans who originally called it home.  The battle cry being “Yo-che-ma-te” roughly translated to “some among them are killers”.  Though clearly a rather lame battle cry, this suggestion was one of only two submitted to Congress and was deemed more favorable than “Yo-ma-ma-phat” which translated to “Oh crap, the white people are coming.”

2.   In 1909, a scruffy haired, mustachioed drifter named Samual Bergden earned moderate national fame after being arrested a record 15 times in the national park for ‘harassing the wildlife”.  Most of his infractions came from using the two revolvers he carried to hunt the parks rabbit population.  Though records indicate he was acquitted in each case for lack of evidence (he was a terrible shot and never hit anything), most believe the judges simply found his hot-headed outbursts of innocuous rants to be endearing and let him off the hook.  After Warner Brothers unveiled their “Yosemite Sam” character in 1945’s Looney Tunes classic “Hair Trigger”, Bergden sued and was able to die a rich man.

3.   A series of bear encounters in the park during the mid-1950’s, generated the park’s second famous cartoon character when Yogi Bear debuted in 1958.  Between 1953 and 1957, there were 17 documented incidents in which Yosemite bears raided and stole camper’s picnic baskets.  They also mauled dozens of people in these incidents, but that was largely left out of the children’s cartoon.


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