The Tuolumne Yosemite

Words and music  Creative Commons License 2015 by Jim Bearden

John Muir, in his battle to save the Hetch Hetchy Valley from being destroyed by a dam, often referred to it as “the Tuolumne Yosemite”, as I have here, to emphasize its similarities to what he called “the Merced Yosemite” (Yosemite Valley), and to reinforce his argument that it should be treated with the same respect, and preserved intact for future generations in the same way. A number of recent scientific studies have made it clear that, if the O’Shaughnessy Dam were ever really needed in order for San Francisco to have enough water, it is certainly not necessary now. As the second verse says, in the century after the dam is removed, the valley can be restored to its natural beauty, for the benefit of many generations to come, and the Bay Area will continue to have as much water as it really needs – in fact, exactly the same water, from the Tuolumne River, taken from farther downstream. The Web site for the Restore Hetch Hetchy Foundation has links to these studies, to the writings of John Muir and others about the beauty of this valley, and to other resources relevant to this battle. When I offered this song to them to use, they made an interesting video presentation from it, and posted it on YouTube, which you can see here. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said (in a widely-criticized remark) that “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” In this case, as this song says, isn’t a hundred years of suffering the consequences of an imbecilic decision – to destroy a priceless resource, belonging to the entire U.S. population, for the benefit of a tiny fraction of that population – more than enough? Please check out the Restore Hetch Hetchy Web site, and join us in this fight.

Verse 1:         
Once we had two daughters, each as lovely as could be —
One was called Merced; the other, Tuolumne.
We showered one with honors, protected her, and kept her free;
Then, to our shame, we sold the other into slavery.

Now it’s been a century since that day of infamy;
And still we hear her calling out to us, to set her free!

Imagine that green valley, and those shining waterfalls:
A legacy of beauty that was stolen from us all.
She lies there, gagged and drowned, and only we can set her free:
Help us liberate the Tuolumne Yosemite!

Verse 2:         
Now it’s been another century, since we let our river go;
They told us we need water, and still, the water flows.
We found we always had enough to satisfy our need,
Once we began to see beyond the blindness of our greed.

The Tuolumne Yosemite now shines for all to see –
For future generations, a priceless legacy!


We’ll take our stand, and tell the world this promise that we make:
A hundred years of rape and plunder is all that we should take!


Help us liberate the Tuolumne Yosemite!

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