Rave reviews for Justin Rall's "Two Yosemites"
the famous camping trip that had a monumental effect on America
Opera Theater Oregon presented Justin Ralls' Two Yosemites at Lewis and Clark College on September 8. The premiere drew well-deserved rave reviews. Ralls' passion for history and natural landscapes is clearly obvious, as he tells the story "the most famous camping trip in history".
It's hard to imagine a president of the United States, even a century ago, leaving the Secret Service to go camping. But Theodore Roosevelt did so in 1903, spending 4 days at Glacier Point in Yosemite in 1903 with naturalist John Muir.
Roosevelt's sojourn with Muir had a clear impact on the president, and he emerged with a determination to protect natural landscapes across the United States. When the Antiquites Act granted the president power to protect land by executive order, Roosevelt designated some 20 National Monuments. Many of these, including the Grand Canyon, were later designated national parks by Congress.
The threat to dam Hetch Hetchy was present in 1903, but did not reach its full force until after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire in San Francisco. Nonetheless, Ralls examines Roosevelt's inner turmoil in depth as considers the opposing influences of Muir and Gifford Pinchot, Roosevelts longtime friend and head of the U.S. Forest Service. Muir described those who would dam Hetch Hetchy as "temple destroyers" and "devotees of ravaging commercialism". Pinchot favored damming the valley as it provided "the greatest good to the greatest number".
Roosevelt's inner conflict lives on today - not only in Justin's music but in Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, whose Senate confirmation testimony directly addressed the dichotomy.
Ralls hopes to bring Two Yosemites to the outdoor amphitheater at Glacier Point, where John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt could recreate this historic moment for park visitors in the 21st century. We are looking forward to it.
Save the date - March 17, 2018 - for our annual dinner at the Berkeley City Club.