[This marker is composed of two panels.]Gateway to YosemiteThe arrival of the Yosemite Valley Railroad in El Portal, Spanish for the Gateway, represented a great accomplishment in transportation and the birth of this community. In 1907, the first El Portal building was the railroad freight and ticket office.
Once rail passengers arrived here, they completed the final 12 miles of their journey into the park via stage and later, motorcoach. In 1916, railroad travel reached its height with over 14,000 fares recorded; however, this very same year, more visitors traveled to Yosemite by automobile than by train. After the All-Year Highway opened in 1926, passenger travel fell almost 80 percent, a trend that eventually ended rail travel to the park.
Panel #2:All Aboard!When Yosemite Valley Railroad first rolled through the Merced River Canyon on May 15, 1907, excitement and enthusiasm whistled in the air.
The railroad revolutionized travel by changing the trip from Merced to Yosemite from an uncomfortable two-day, horse drawn stage ride to a four-hour, sightseeing journey. Train passengers arriving in Yosemite for the first time 100 years ago may have felt similar emotions to what you are experiencing today. Perhaps they felt anticipation, excitement, or even impatience as they were nearing the end of their journey.