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Private Land Records
SEKI 22572  
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Collection Overview
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This collection consists of park records detailing the acquisition and administration of privately held land within the boundaries of Sequoia National Park as well as private land that extended the boundaries of the park.
Sequoia National Park, founded in 1890, was the second national park to be established by the federal government. General Grant National Park, the third national park, was created later that same year. The original boundaries of the parks encompassed 252 square miles and included a large portion of the Giant Forest area. In 1926, Congress expanded the boundaries of Sequoia National Park by an additional 352 square miles, stretching east to Mount Whitney to encompass both the Kaweah River and Kern River watersheds for a total park area of 604 square miles. Though the federal government was the primary landowner of the areas added to the park, small pockets of privately owned land remained scattered across the area. These private inholdings were largely meadows sold to individuals under the Swamp Lands Act of 1850. Many of them were situated in and around the very sequoia groves the park had been established to protect. From the beginning of the parks' history, their superintendents were dedicated to eliminate private lands within the parks' boundaries either through purchase or donation. The establishment of the National Park Service (NPS) in 1916 made the process of appropriating funds for these purchases easier, but park superintendents, particularly Colonel John R. White, relied heavily on contributions and other aid from outside conservationists and park proponents. Between 1916 and 1926, all of the remaining private areas in Giant Forest, as well as popular modern areas such as Lodgepole, were purchased or donated and made part of the park. During this time, superintendents and NPS officials also sought to purchase lands and meadows that lay outside Sequoia National Park, but within the area of a proposed park expansion, such as Redwood and Wet Meadows. Despite these efforts, a handful of private inholdings remained. A notable example of this is Wilsonia Village in Grant Grove, which still exists as a private community within the park. Wilsonia has a complex and not always amiable relationship with Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks involving agreements over road use, law enforcement, preservation of NPS buildings within Wilsonia, and similar matters. The files within this collection predate the NPS-19 Records Disposition Schedule and are organized by a numeric code that uses decimals and dashes to separate major categories and file types. All files in this collection are marked with the 610 numeric code indicating the Private Holdings category. As this file code system was superseded in 1953 by the NPS-19 schedule, the system has been noted and disposed of. Files within this collection have been arranged alphabetically groups of the same name by folder name and then chronologically within folder
1 linear foot (1 oversized box, 19 oversized folders)
Many collections are former federal government records and are in the public domain. Other collections are from private sources; copyright has been transferred to the NPS on most. Some collections have publication restrictions. Staff will assist researchers in determining copyright status of selected materials. Researchers are required to properly credit all materials used. The researcher assumes responsibility for acquiring copyright permissions when needed.
Collection is open for research by appointment.