California State Parks celebrates 150 years
California was the first state in the country to establish a state park when Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove was granted to the state by the US Congress and President Abraham Lincoln in 1864. In 1902, Big Basin Redwoods became what is now the state’s oldest state park — the first became a national park in 1906.
To celebrate 150 years, California State Parks employees have been putting up displays at their closest fairs.
“A lot of the parks are represented here,” Morro Bay Museum of Natural History Manager Rouvaishyana said at the California Mid-State Fair.
Many of the county’s state parks — such as Oceano Dunes, San Simeon, Hearst Castle, Morro Bay Natural History Museum — were in attendance in the Ponderosa Building during the 12 days of the fair. In addition to passive informational displays, there are hands-on demonstrations, such as fishing with magnets, traversing a replicia of Oceano Dunes with remote-controlled trucks, and a simulated ride in a dune buggy.
Additionally, children could participate in the Junior Ranger program every day at 4 p.m. on Paso Pete’s Ponderosa Stage. Then at 7 p.m., the state parks presented a traditional campfire program at 7 p.m. on the Bud Light/Cantinas Frontier Stage. One night, Don Wells arrived portraying a gentleman from 1934 describing William Randolph Hearst’s 71st birthday party at the castle.
The state parks’ official anniversary was June 30, as that is the day that Lincoln signed the bill that granted the first state park. However, the celebration will continue through the end of 2014. To learn more about the 150th anniversary, go to www.150.parks.ca.gov.