National Geographic : 1958 May
A River of Embers, Yosemite Firefall Cascades 900 Feet In the early 1870's a Yo semite settler pushed the first hot coals off Glacier Point. Soon the firefall was a nightly event in summer. To achieve more spectacular effects, men tried fireworks, flaming gunny sacks, even bombs. Today the park conces sioner's employee who stages the show uses the bark of fallen red fir trees. He lights a bonfire and waits until it is reduced to incandescent em bers. At a signal, he pushes the coals over the cliff with a long-handled rake. A glittering shower of sparks and flame thrills park visitors looking up from vantage points in Yosemite Valley. Nearly all the bark has burned to cinders by the time it nears the bottom of the cliff. Nevada Fall is a pale streak at the picture's edge. Yosemite Falls Takes a Shattering Leap into Space In spring flood, Yosemite Creek plunges with such savage force that the earth trembles half a mile away. In August drought, all that remains is a gossamer veil tossed by the wind. The Upper Fall, Middle Cascade, and Lower Fall plunge a total of 2,425 feet. Upper section alone is the highest free-leaping water fall in the Nation and fifth in the world. Snow plants (Sarcodes sanguinea), as fat as aspara gus and as bright as red candles, light a corner of this scene. Lost Arrow, a granite spire to the right of the falls, stood unconquered until 1946. 601 Ektachrome by Josef Muench (opposite) and Kodachrome by National Geographic Photographer J. Baylor Roberts © N.G .S .