John Muir first visited Hetch Hetchy in 1871 and published articles describing its beauty. This small valley, north of the Yosemite Valley to which it bears resemblance, was included in the establishment of Yosemite National Park in 1890.
Soon after, it was proposed by Mayor James Phelan of San Francisco that Hetch Hetchy be dammed and converted into a reservoir providing water from the Tuolomne River to the San Francisco Bay Area. The proposal was the subject of years of controversy within the Federal Government.
Despite Muir's campaign against the dam with the Sierra Club, it was determined in 1913 that plans to dam the valley would proceed. Muir died in 1914 before seeing the completion of O'Shaughnessy Dam in 1923, which continues to provide some of the water and power for the San Francisco Bay Area.