Yosemite Comes to Claremont in Library Exhibit

Students can now explore the wonders of Yosemite National Park on campus. Through Dec. 22, the Honnold/Mudd Library is holding an exhibit of the history of Yosemite on the second floor between the North Entrance and Special Collections. 

“What I think is important about Yosemite is that it is the first example of land being set aside by action of the U.S. federal government specifically for preservation and public use,” said Lisa Crane, the Special Collections and Western Americana Librarian at Honnold/Mudd Library. The preservation of Yosemite set the precedent for the establishment of national parks, according to Crane.

Denny Krusha, a Los Angeles author and bibliographer, offered to exhibit her private collection of Yosemite artifacts. Among the collection of maps, guidebooks and artworks are stereoscopic photographs, which recreate the illusion of depth by using two photographs of the same scene taken at slightly different angles. The original photographs that date back to the late 1800s were taken by dual-lens cameras that yield a three-dimensional effect.

The exhibit also includes a diary from Pomona alumni Robert P. and Alice B. Jennings of the Pomona College Class of 1900, documenting their trip from Los Angeles to Yosemite via horse-drawn wagon.

“They went there the hard way, because there were cars back then,” said Char Miller, an environmental analysis professor at Pomona. “They were young and venturous, and they were students that just graduated from Pomona.”

Yosemite still has its risks nowadays. The number of deaths soared last year due to tourists’ lack of caution and the spread of the rare hantavirus found in deer mice. But despite these challenges, Yosemite’s diverse nature holds an adventure for everyone. 

“For climbers, there are the physical challenges presented by Half Dome and other climbing locations in Yosemite,” Crane said. “For hikers, there is a lot of back country where one can really get away from it all. For historians, there is a lot of history in this place starting with the Native Americans.”

Part of the beauty comes from its reflection of the area’s history.

“It is interesting to think that we now walk on the path and see what people saw 150 years ago, and nothing has changed from then to now,” Miller said. However, this may not be true for long with the current rates of climate change.

“One of the fears of global warming is that we will get less snow and more rain,” Miller said. “The falls won’t be as spectacular.”

The greatest fear is that the iconic Yosemite tree—the Sequoia—will be lost. 

“The fog that provides moisture for the trees will decrease and the trees will have a harder time surviving,” Miller explained. “The Central Valley is arguably the most polluted area in the United States, and the smog accumulation becomes higher each year. But for the next two generations, we won’t be able to see a difference.”

The exhibit at Honnold/Mudd gives students the ability to experience the current and past beauty of Yosemite from a distance.

“The exhibit is broken up into nine parts: discovering Yosemite; traveling to Yosemite; seeing Yosemite; staying at Yosemite; reflecting on Yosemite through photography; reflecting on Yosemite through fiction; reflecting on Yosemite through travel memoirs, etc.; reflecting on Yosemite through John Muir; and a wall display of iconic imagery of Yosemite,” Crane said.

There will be a reception on Saturday, Oct. 13 for a gallery tour by Denny Krusha, who loaned many of the materials on display. On Wednesday, Oct. 31, Miller will give a Claremont Discourse Lecture on Public Land, Public Debates: A Century of Controversy, his latest publication.

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