Berkeley and the Making of Yosemite

September 30, 2014

Scene from the Yosemite Rim Fire

The 2013 Rim Fire, one of the most destructive in the history of the Sierra, largely stopped at the Yosemite border — partly because of progressive fire policies practiced in the park. Photo: Jonathan Byers

Yosemite National Park would be something quite different were it not for UC Berkeley.

That’s the blue-and-gold current flowing through Yosemite: A Storied Landscape, a just-published e-book that brings to vivid life the California national park that inspires long strings of superlatives — most photographed, most climbed, most lived-in, most historic, most accessible, most inspiring — in celebration of its 150th birthday. The book also shows off the promise of digital books: Essays easily share space with slideshows (climbers, artworks, the terrain), videos (time-lapse video of the Rim Fire, rioting hippies), animations, information snippets (Ansel Adams wore the jester’s costume in the annual Christmas play), and side trips (what women should wear, and not, on the trail in the early 1900s).

Yosemite is the work of Kerry Tremain, the former California Magazine editor, current digital publisher, Berkeley resident and self-described fan of UC Berkeley. The book was published by Tremain’s company, 36 Views, in cooperation with the California Historical Society.

Currently on display at the historical society’s San Francisco gallery is an exhibit of Yosemite art and artifacts that are included in the book — including the skin of one of the park’s last grizzlies and the confession of its killer, both tied to Berkeley.

“I think Berkeley invented the park, in its current form,” says Tremain. 

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