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Galen Clark
Galen Clark in the Big Tree Grove
Galen Clark (March 28,1814, Dublin, New HampshiremarkerMarch 24,1910, Oakland, Californiamarker) is known for his discovery of the Mariposa Grovemarker of Giant Sequoia trees and for his role as Guardian of Yosemite National Parkmarker for 21 years. In 1853, Clark had a severe lung infection that was diagnosed as consumption (as tuberculosis was called in Clark's time). Doctors gave him six months to live at most. He then moved to the Wawonamarker area as a homesteader. "I went to the mountains to take my chances of dying or growing better, which I thought were about even." (Galen Clark, 1856) Upon his discovery of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Galen Clark spent the majority of his time exploring the area and teaching others about the mysteries of the giant, cinnamon-colored trees. This passion led to him writing letters to friends and Congress, eventually leading to the passing of the Yosemite Grant, signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. This grant was the first of its kind, stating that it would protect Yosemite Valleymarker and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias for "public use, resort, and recreation ... to be left inalienable for all time". Galen then became the first "guardian of the grant". His lungs healed, and he subsequently explored and climbed much of the area.

Clark did not seek to enrich himself from Yosemite Valley or the Sequoia Trees. He ran a modest hotel and guide service but was a poor businessman who was constantly in debt. Clark's Station in Wawona, California, for example, had several more employees than required for the number of guests and its short season.

Toward the end of his life, Clark was desperately poor. He wrote three books on Yosemite. These include Indians of the Yosemite (1904) and The Yosemite Valley (1910). Galen Clark's book on the sequoia trees is simple, factual, and direct. He left out his personal role in the discovery, popularization, and protection of the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees as hotel keeper, guide, and Guardian of Yosemite and Mariposa Grove.

Today, the Giant Sequoia that would have been the first of its kind to be seen by Clark upon his arrival at the Mariposa Grove is named and marked " The Galen Clark Tree" (240 feet; diameter 15.3 at 10 feet above mean base) in memory of his contribution to the preservation of the Giant Sequoia ecosystem and the idea of the national park.

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