California State Parks, 150 Years

New Exhibit - California State Parks, 150 Years: A Gift from the People, to the People

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California State Parks and the California State Railroad Museum debuted an all-new exhibit titled “California State Parks, 150 Years: A Gift from the People, to the People” on Saturday, December 21, 2013.  Timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of California State Parks in 2014, the exhibit will feature compelling and diverse historic images of parks along with a variety of cultural and natural history objects of importance to State Parks.

The 150th anniversary exhibit will be located in the front lobby of the Railroad Museum – North America’s most popular railroad museum – and will offer an opportunity for visitors to gain a greater appreciation for historic milestones and the important role State Parks plays in California's history and identity.   In fact, on June 30, 1864, and in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act, protecting Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove and ceding them to the State of California as the nation's first State Park. While Yosemite is now a National Park, it did mark the beginning of the State Parks movement. The landmark act -- the first instance of park land being set aside specifically for preservation and public use by action of the federal government -- created a legacy for California and the nation, and the entire world.

Through numerous name changes the Department of Parks and Recreation has continued to grow. It now oversees 280 units including parks, historic parks, beaches, recreation areas, vehicular recreation areas and natural reserves. The parks serve more than 70 million visitors annually from throughout California, the U.S. and around the globe, making California State Parks the biggest and most visited state park system in the world.