Today marks the 101st birthday of Ansel Adams, whose photography established Kings Canyon National Park.
Ansel Adams lived from February 20, 1912 to April 22, 1984. In 1919, at the age of 17, Adams became an active member of the Sierra Club in Yosemite National Park. It was in Yosemite that Adams developed his love of photography and “soon became known as both an artist and defender of Yosemite.”
Adams’s efforts brought nature conservancy to the attention of President Franklin Roosevelt and Department of Interior Secretary Harold Ickes. According to PBS, “Adams’ 1938 book, Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail, captivated President Franklin Roosevelt after Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes showed it to the president. Roosevelt would not only designate Kings Canyon as a national park in 1940, but as a road-less park, leaving it completely undeveloped.” Adams soon developed a relationship with Ickes that led to a contract with the Department of the Interior in 1941. Over the course of eight years, Adams traveled to every national park, and even did a photographic study of Japanese internment camps in 1943.
In 1968, Adams was awarded the Conservation Service Award, the Interior Department’s highest civilian honor. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter awarded Adams the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As he presented the award, Carter said, “It is through his foresight and fortitude that so much of America has been saved for future Americans.” A year after Adams’s death, an 11,760-foot peak on the edge of Yosemite was named Mount Ansel Adams.