05/04/2010 12:14 PM
12/13/2010 9:35 AM
Sure, you remember visits by Jimmy Carter and Michelle Obama. But over the years we've had lots of presidents and their spouses visit our area.
George Bush the First stopped in Merced on a campaign tour in 1988 (he also stopped in Ripon, where I saw him along with Chuck Norris and two of The Beach Boys.)
In 1999, Vice President Al Gore shook hands with firemen at Castle Air Force Base and visited Merced College.
John F. Kennedy was here, surrounded by a crowd of supportive Mercedians during a whistlestop campaign tour, just before beating Richard Nixon in the 1960 election.
Two years later, Nixon was in town.
Kennedy visited again in 1962 to dedicate the San Luis Resevoir, and then went to Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite has been a favorite destination of U.S. presidents. According to a 1959 Sierra Club article, the first president to visit was James Garfield in 1875, six years before he took office. Four years later, the park had a visit by Ulysses S. Grant, and in 1883, Rutherford B. Hayes stayed at the Sentinel Hotel on the south bank of the Merced River facing Yosemite Falls. The article also says Warren G. Harding was planning to visit the park in 1923, but became ill while in San Francisco, where he later died.
Before he was president, Dwight Eisenhower made a 1949 stop to Yosemite. He was in civilian dress, but a photo caption in the Merced Sun-Star says plenty of tourists recognized the popular former military general.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt were photographed while visiting Yosemite in 1938.
Teddy Roosevelt and naturalist John Muir made a famous visit to the national park in 1903, camping in Mariposa Grove and riding horses to Glacier Point.
And William Howard Taft also made a Yosemite trip, though the Sun-Star's archived photo doesn't contain any date information.
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