“People who think it ‘don’t pay’ to visit Yosemite had better not travel,” wrote Joseph Moore of Richmond, Indiana, in 1875 in the guest register of the Cosmopolitan Bathhouse and Saloon. In the late 1800s, visitors to Yosemite could sign and browse through the tourist entries in the grand Cosmopolitan Register, including the entries of several historic American figures. By preserving this beautiful register, the early spirit of Yosemite remains alive.
Also known as the “Grand Register of Yo-Semite Valley,” the Cosmopolitan Register contains more than 800 pages of guest entries from 1873 to 1884, written at the Cosmopolitan Bathhouse and Saloon. It weighs more than 100 pounds and contains more than 18,000 signatures, including those of four U.S. presidents: Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Rutherford B. Hayes and James Garfield. By the late 1800s, thousands of people were flocking to Yosemite to take in the scenic wonders, and many entered their names and comments in the register.
Preserving a Window to the Past
In 2007, the Conservancy donated the register to Yosemite National Park, where it was displayed through Fall 2012 in an interactive exhibit at the Yosemite Museum Gallery titled, “View & Visitors: The Yosemite Experience in the 19th Century.” By donating the register to the park, an important part of the early visitor experience in Yosemite has been preserved for future generations.