Yosemite Valley (Yo-sem'i-tey) is a cleft in the west slope of the Sierra Nevada, about the middle of California, and 140 miles B. of San Francisco. The name Yosemite is an Indian word which signifies 'large grizzly bear.' This celebrated valley, shut in by sheer granite walls 3000 to 6000 feet high, noted for the sublimity and beauty of its scenery, is 6 miles long and from 1/2 to nearly 2 miles broad. It is traversed by the Merced River, and its waterfalls are in some respects the most remarkable in the world. In the grand Yosemite Falls the stream, 25 feet wide at the crest, takes a first leap of 1500 feet, then rushes 626 feet down in a series of cascades, and finally plunges 400 feet to the bottom. Above the falls are the North Dome (3568) and the vast Half Dome (4737). The valley was discovered in 1851 by soldiers who pursued some predatory Indians to their fastness here; its fame quickly spread, and Congress wisely took steps to preserve its beauties, and in 1864 handed it over to the state, along with the Mariposa grove of sequoias. There are several hotels, a post-office, and a chapel in the valley, besides the houses of the guardian and the guides and others under him. See a work by Wiley (1893).