Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike. John Muir, The Yosemite (1912)
Today the National Park Service of the United States celebrates its 100th birthday. Though we are celebrating a century of these beautiful places to “play in and pray in,” the vision of the National Park idea can be traced back to 1832 when artist George Catlin first encouraged the protection of our country’s wilderness and the people and animals inhabiting these untamed places. In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed an act establishing Yellowstone as our country’s very first National Park. Between 1872 and when the National Park Service was officially established in 1916, the United States government had designated 13 more National Parks and 21 National Monuments.