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Yosemite and Its Architecture: An Inside/Outside Look

Name the favorite building you have visited inside a national park. A restroom? Try thinking on a grander scale, as Yosemite National Park videographer Steve Bumgardner did in his latest project for the park's splendid short film series, Yosemite Nature Notes.

For his 13th installment, Bumgardner focuses his perceptive eye on human architecture found within the Yosemite's boundaries. The park contains 5 National Historic Landmarks:

1. Ahwahnee Hotel
2. LeConte Memorial Lodge
3. Parsons Memorial Lodge
4. Rangers' Club
5. Wawona Hotel and Thomas Hill Studio

Bumgardner (aka Yosemite Steve) shared his thoughts on his latest film with The REI Blog:

REI Blog: Due to its public accessibility and popularity, the Ahwahnee could have been the focus of your film. What led you to showcase the Rangers' Club?

Bumgardner:  I chose the Rangers' Club because it's my favorite building of the 5. I kind of got a crush on this building after I lived there in 2005. Plus, I like to share the unknown parts of Yosemite, and the Ahwahnee is pretty well-known.
REI Blog: Do rangers still use the Rangers' Club as a residence?  
Bumgardner: "Today, there are only 2 permanent residents of the Rangers' Club. The building is used mainly for seasonal and temporary employees. In the summer, there may be up to 15 people living there, but in the winter it's pretty quiet."

REI Blog: How rustic is it?

Bumgardner: "Not only does the RC have indoor plumbing, but it was one of the first buildings in Yosemite Valley to have electricity!" Blog: You elected to make an appearance in this production.  What prompted you to do so?

Bumgardner: "Well, it was a little different, but since I had lived there, I felt that I was qualified to share my views. I had my buddy Josh conduct the interview, so it wasn't too 'forced.' The hard part is editing yourself, but I used the same cut-and-paste technique that I do with all my interview subjects."
REI Blog: Yosemite has several other interesting buildings, such as the Yosemite Chapel, which is the first structure in the park to be included on the National Register of Historic Places. What, in your mind, is the significance and value of historic buildings within the park?

Bumgardner: "These old buildings tell the human story of visitation and use in Yosemite, and as much as we like to think of Yosemite as a natural park, those imaginary lines that we've drawn around this place have really made it a cultural resource."
REI Blog: What's the neatest discovery you made during this project?

Bumgardner: "I was always a big fan of those old leather sconces and the horseshoes that are found throughout the buildings interior. But I found out that the ones we see today are not the originals. If you watch the video, there's some old black and white stills of the inside, and you can see that the lights are a little different, and even some of the horseshoes are upside down."

Posted on at 4:36 PM

Tagged: Rangers' Club, Steve Bumgardner, Yosemite, Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Nature Notes, Yosemite Steve, architecture, history and national parks

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