"The Pioneer Yosemite History Center consists of historic structures from different eras of Yosemite history. Originally constructed in different locations in Yosemite, they were moved to Wawona in the late 1950's and early 1960's. As you walk among them, it is important to remember that the area does not represent a village. Instead, each building represents a different chapter in the Yosemite story." --from Pioneer Yosemite History Center Online
Up until about 1955, the historic preservation of structures was considered a low priority for the National Park Service while the preservation of natural scenery was paramount. During this time many important historical structures met an untimely end at the hands of the Park Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)--among these were John Muir's cabin and the oldest building in the park, Cedar Cottage which was built in 1859. Thankfully in the late 1950's, in large part because of the extensive efforts of Park Naturalist Douglass H. Hubbard, this way of thinking began to change and several historical buildings and structures were restored and saved for the benefit of future generations.
The first of these structures that we would encounter on our tour was to be a very old, very nostalgic wooden covered bridge that has spanned the South Fork of the Merced River at Wawona for over 152 years. All Yosemite bound traffic through this area--whether on foot, on horseback, by stage, or by car--would pass over this bridge until 1931 when a new modern concrete bridge on the new Wawona road would replace it.
This was an amazing structure to walk through. The history of the place is staggering. It is almost as if you can hear the clop of the horses hooves and the squeak of the wagon wheels moving along with you. When you look overhead at the hand-hewn beams you marvel at the craftsmen who used only ax and adze to shape these huge logs. It is almost as if you leave one time zone as you enter into this bridge and come out into another time--very long ago--when you come out on the other side.