The National Parks: America's Best Idea Poster

Episode List


Season 1

27 Sep. 2009
The Scripture of Nature: 1851-1890
A study of the first ideas which led to the establishment of America's national parks, with an emphasis on the work of John Muir and the exploration and preservation of Yosemite and Yellowstone.
28 Sep. 2009
The Last Refuge: 1890-1915
At the end of the 19th century, some Americans begin to question the nation's headlong rush across the continent that has devastated forests and ravaged entire species of animals. Conservation's greatest champion is the new president, Theodore Roosevelt, who creates parks and wildlife refuges, and then audaciously uses the Antiquities Act to set aside 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon as a national monument. John Muir fights the battle of his life to prevent the city of San Francisco from burying the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park under a reservoir, and...
29 Sep. 2009
The Empire of Grandeur: 1915-1919
America boasts a dozen national parks as the park idea turns 50 years old. A millionaire businessman named Stephen Mather impulsively accepts the offer to oversee them for one year. Mather and his right-hand-man Horace Albright launch a campaign to publicize the parks as a unified system and to persuade Congress to create a single agency to oversee it: the National Park Service, established in 1916. Mount McKinley, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Acadia and Hawaii's volcanoes are set aside as national parks, but Mather's top priority is in Arizona. After a bitter fight, ...
30 Sep. 2009
Going Home: 1920-1933
As the nation enters the 1920s, Stephen Mather and Horace Albright ally themselves with the automobile to "democratize" the national parks and attract more Americans to them. Nebraskans Margaret and Edward Gehrke begin collecting parks each summer, while Glenn and Bessie Hyde spend their honeymoon in a homemade boat on the raging Colorado river through the Grand Canyon. Horace Kephart, a reclusive writer, and George Masa, a Japanese immigrant and photographer, launch a campaign to save the virgin forests of the Smoky Mountains from destruction by making it a national ...
1 Oct. 2009
Great Nature: 1933-1945
A new president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, expands the national park idea to embrace battlefields and other historic and iconic sites. He enters pitched battles to create national parks on the Olympic Peninsula, Florida's Everglades, Wyoming's Teton Mountains, and California's High Sierra; he also creates the Civilian Conservation Corps to provide young men with jobs improving conditions at national parks. George Melendez Wright, a young Park Service employee, begins arguing that the parks are not doing enough to protect wildlife in their natural state. In Seattle, Iwao ...
2 Oct. 2009
The Morning of Creation: 1946-1980
After World War II, an increasingly mobile and affluent nation begins placing demands on the parks as never before, and the parks are in danger of being "loved to death." A Park Service biologist named Adolph Murie argues that ingrained practices such as killing predators runs counter to the purpose of national parks, while David Brower of the Sierra Club mobilizes public opinion to defeat Congressional proposals for dams in pristine places. In the 1970s, when President Jimmy Carter uses the Antiquities Act to set aside 56 million acres in Alaska, a huge uproar ...

 Season 1 

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