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Yosemite’s Historic Landmarks Get Their Old Names Back

By Katherine LaGrave

Jul 16, 2019

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The historic Ahwahnee Hotel has been open since 1927. 

Photo by Logan Bush/Shutterstock

The historic Ahwahnee Hotel has been open since 1927. 

Popular park attractions can now once again be called by their original names.

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Good news for Yosemite National Park traditionalists: On July 15, the National Park Service settled a $12 million lawsuit brought on by Yosemite’s former concessionaire Delaware North, guaranteeing that popular park landmarks could once again use their historic names. 

Under the lawsuit, which dates back to 2015, the park’s Curry Village became known as Half Dome Village, The Ahwahnee Hotel was retitled The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, the Wawona Hotel was renamed Big Trees Lodge, and Badger Pass Ski Area became Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area. (Yosemite Lodge at the Falls will keep its name, due to the similarities with its original name, Yosemite Valley Lodge.) The concessionaire, Delaware North, laid claim to some of the national park’s names, saying it had purchased the intellectual property when it started running the park’s lodging, food, and retail services in 1993. 

A temporary sign covering Curry Village was never made permanent, as shown here.

Despite the name changes during the lawsuit, many visitors to the park continued to refer to the affected landmarks by their original names, reports CNN, and many park officials hoped the move to rename popular structures was only temporary. Chalk it up to history: The Ahwahnee Hotel has been open since 1927 and was made a National Historic Landmark in 1987. Camp Curry, meanwhile, has been open since 1899; in 1970, the name for the collection of cabins was changed to Camp Curry Village. 

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The government has to pay Delaware North $3.84 million for the use of the names and logos, and it will draw the money from a fund used for settling lawsuits. Aramark—which became the park’s new concessionaire in 2016—will pay the remaining $8.16 million. Aramark will then “own” the names until 2031, when its contract ends, at which point the national government will receive the trademarks.

The changes are effective immediately, but park officials acknowledged in an email to AFAR that it will take several months to alter some road signs and park directories. 

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