Pioneer Yosemite History Center at Wawona

At the History Center you can ride horse-drawn wagons, walk across a covered bridge, and visit historic buildings out of Yosemite's past.
By Staff ,

Horse-drawn wagon emerging from the covered bridge at the Pioneer Yosemite History Center. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski

A place of pioneers who so profoundly influenced the birth and growth of the national park idea.

If you didn't know it was there, you might miss it. Behind the general store and shuttle stop in the Wawona area, and down past the stream-side parking lot, you'll see what looks like an abandoned barn, a collection of old farm equipment, and a covered bridge.

Cross that bridge and you enter the Pioneer Yosemite History Center, a collection of historic buildings from Yosemite's past. Originally constructed in different locations throughout Yosemite, buildings were moved to Wawona in the 1950s and 60s. As you walk among them, it is important to remember that the area does not represent a single village. Instead, each building represents a different chapter in the Yosemite story.

Things to do at the History Center include riding a horse-drawn Wells Fargo wagon, watching a blacksmith work, seeing the horses at the old stable, and strolling among cabins and structures that were important parts of Yosemite history.

The history center explains how Yosemite was the inspiration for national parks across America and throughout the world. The history center is always open, and has explanatory signs in front of the many exhibits.

Grey Barn and Covered Bridge

In the late 1800s, Wawona was the largest stage stop in Yosemite. All Yosemite-bound traffic crossed the covered bridge which was built in 1857.

Artist Cabin

Artist Cabin at the Pioneer Yosemite History Center. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski

Artists were some of the first advocates of turning Yosemite into a national park. The cabin on display was built by painter Christian Jorgensen on the banks of the Merced River.

Anderson Cabin

George Anderson, a miner and blacksmith, worked as a guide to Yosemite in the late 1800s.

Blacksmith Shop

Blacksmith demonstration at the Pioneer Yosemite History Center. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski

Blacksmith shops were located throughout the park until automobiles became common. Watch a demonstration during the summer season.

Cavalry Office

The U.S. Army managed both Sequoia and Yosemite before the National Park Service was created.

Ranger Patrol Cabin

After the calvary left Yosemite in 1914, 15 cavalry scouts managed the park and regulated automobile traffic through the entrances.

Degnan's Bakery

Originally connected to the Degnan house near the chapel in Yosemite Valley, the bakery provided service to visitors and park staff.

Wells Fargo Office

Visitors arriving by horse-drawn or auto stage used this office to make railroad and lodging reservations.

Powderhouse and Jail

Powderhouses were used to store blasting powder for road construction. And the jail? Well, sometimes it was a little wild in the wilderness.