Dame in Yosemite State Park
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, a heated debate ensued over the building of a dam in the Hetchy Hetchy Valley in Yosemite State Park. The debate was between the naturalists of the area and the city engineers. I shall explore not only the debate prior to the building of the dam but also its affects on the population since its completion. Being a nature lover myself, I can easily sympathize with the people who wanted to preserve the natural beauty Yosemite, but in light of the facts, I feel that the dam was not only necessary but an overall benefit to the citizens of the surrounding area.
It was after the earthquake of 1906 that the city of San Francisco thought it necessary to build a dam to meet the water and electricity needs of the people. The earthquake was devastating. Firefighters drastically lowered the existing water supply to the area putting out fires the earthquake caused. It was a long drug-out battle that ended in a court of law. The dam was finished in 1923. They later decided to build the dam bigger so that it could produce more water and power to San Francisco. The completion of the final addition to the dam occurred in 1938. (Schaffer). High granite walls form the narrow canyon. The base of the dam is less than 1,000 feet long that creates a reservoir eight miles long and covers 1,861 acres. It measures nearly 370 feet in depth (Boldrick).
John Muir was a naturalist and a strong advocate for leaving untouched the natural beauty of Yosemite. He did not want his beloved park tampered with. He believed the dam would close off the area to the public and restrict access for nature lovers like him who used the area for camping, hiking, and staying in touch with nature. (Muir). The Yosemite Valley had already been closed for three and a half months for the purpose of keeping Tuolumne Meadows clean. It had been proposed that the watershed to the dam also be closed for the same reason. Arguments against building the dam included the problem of inaccessibility to the watershed. However, this argument did not seem a valid one, as the watershed would only need to be closed for three and a half months out of the year.