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S. 5716, An Act to establish the Mount McKinley National Park in the Territory Alaska, January 10, 1917

Hunter-naturalist Charles Sheldon was the moving force behind the legislation to protect Mount McKinley. After his first visit in 1906, Sheldon returned to study the flora and fauna. With conservationist Belmont Brown and Delegate James Wickersham of Alaska, Sheldon drafted the bill that Senator Key Pittman of Nevada introduced. It passed Congress in 1917 to establish Mount McKinley National Park.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

S. 5716, An Act to establish the Mount McKinley National Park in the Territory Alaska, January 10, 1917

Preserving Alaskan Wilderness

Since the 1870s, Congress has created more than 400 national parks to conserve wild lands, promote recreation, and celebrate the nation’s heritage. To oversee these areas, Congress established the National Park Service in 1916. Persuaded by naturalist Charles Sheldon and other conservationists, Congress established Mount McKinley National Park in Alaska in 1917 to protect North America’s highest mountain. The Alaskan National Lands Conservation Act of 1980 vastly expanded the protected area to six million acres and renamed it Denali National Park.

Is it too much to expect this unrivaled work of nature will take its place among the important assets, not only of Alaska but of the nation as a whole?

Robert Sterling Yard, “Mount McKinley National Park: An Economic Asset,” Establishment of Mount McKinley National Park . . . , 1916