Updated: Sep 15, 2020
Col. Charles Young was the first African-American to be superintendent of a National Park. He was stationed in Sequoia National Park. At his death in 1922, he was the highest-ranking African American soldier in US history.
The Monterey leg of California's Historic Buffalo Soldier Trail was where one of the first units, legendary African-American 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers served in California's Sierra Nevada as some of the first national park rangers. Buffalo Soldiers from Company H, 24th Infantry Regiment were stationed at the Presidio of Monterey and traveled from their base to Yosemite National Park between 1867 and 1871. Troops of all four regiments assigned to Pacific commands during the Spanish American and Philippine American wars departed and returned through San Francisco. Following those wars, soldiers of the 24th Infantry and 9th Cavalry were garrisoned at the Presidio of San Francisco. Over 400 Buffalo Soldiers never left the Presidio. They're buried here.
Buffalo Soldiers were assigned to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks at the turn of the 20th century. African American Cavalry were among the first stewards of these parks. The 24th, along with the 25th Infantry and the 9th and 10th Cavalry, were African American army regiments that during the Indian War period became known as Buffalo Soldiers. 1903 was the first time African American soldiers were given the responsibility of park patrol for an entire summer season.