« PreviousContinue »
season. It is also planned to have appropriate gateways placed at the different entrances of all the parks, and the Department will welconie any suggestions for any specific entrance. It is our purpose to have these gateways harmonize with the particular park for which they are in tended. At the present time there are only two gateways of any dignity; one the Gardiner entrance to Yellowstone National Park, and the other the great gateway of cedar logs which marks the southern entrance of Mount Rainier National Park.
STEPHEN T. MATHER
EXTRACTS FROM THE ANNUAL REPORT OF THE SECRETARY OF THE
PLACES OF BEAUTY AS AN Asset In casting up the assets of the United States as a landed proprietor I have made no mention of one of the most delightful of our national enterprises. To build a railroad, reclaim lands, give new impulse to enterprise, and offer new doors to ambitious capital—these are phases of the ever-widening life and activity of this Nation. The United States does more; it furnishes playgrounds to the people which are, we may modestly state, without any rivals in the world. Just as the cities are seeing the wisdom and the necessity of open spaces for the children, so with a very large view the Nation has been saving from its domain the rarest places of grandeur and beauty for the enjoyment of the world.
And this fact has been discovered by many only this year. Having an incentive in the expositions on the Pacific Coast, and Europe being closed, thousands have for the first time crossed the continent and seen one or more of the national parks. That such mountains and glaciers, lakes and cañons, forests and waterfalls were to be found in this country was a revelation to many, who had heard but had not believed. It would appear from the experience of this year that the real awakening as to the value of these parks has at last been realized, and that those who have hitherto found themselves enticed by the beauty of the Alps and the Rhine, and the soft loveliness of the valleys of France, may find equal if not more stimulating satisfaction in the mountains, rivers, and valleys which this Government has set apart for them and for all others.
It may reconcile those who think that money expended upon such luxuries is wasted-if any such there are to be told that the soberminded traffic men of the railroads estimate that this year more than a hundred million dollars usually spent in European travel was divided among the railroads, hotels, and their supporting enterprises in this country.
During the year a new national park of distinction and unusual accessibility has come into existence. It crosses the Rockies in Colorado at a point of supreme magnificence; hence its title, the Rocky Mountain National Park. Through it, from north to south, winds the Continental Divide the Snotyy Range in name and fact. Two hundred lakes grace this. rocky, paradise, and bear and bighorn inhabit its fastnesses. It has an area of 350 square miles and lies only 70 miles from Denver. Many hotels lie at the feet of these mountains and three railroads skirt their sides.
This is Colorado's second national park, the other being Mesa Verde, where this department, with the assistance of Dr. Jesse Walter Fewkes, of the Smithsonian Institution, has uncovered during the last summer prehistoric ruins of unprecedented scientific interest.
Oregon has but recently completed a great highway along the Columbia River. This should be connected by road with Mount Hood and a portion of the present forest reserve converted into a park. The limits of Sequoia Park, in California, the home of the great redwoods, should be so extended as to include the Kern River Cañon, a most practicable project today, but tomorrow may be too late because of the lumber interests. The Grand Cañon is not yet part of the park system, although as part of a national forest it comes under the control of the Department of Agriculture.
There is no reason why this Nation should not make its public health and scenic domain as available to all its citizens as Switzerland and Italy make theirs. The aim is to open them thoroughly by road and trail and give access and accommodation to every degree of income. In this belief an effort has been made this year as never before to outfit the parks with new hotels which should make the visitor desire to linger rather than hasten on his journey. One hotel was built on Lake McDermott, in Glacier Park, one is to be built immediately on the shoulder of Mount Rainier, in Paradise Valley, another in the valley of the Yosemite, with an annex high overhead on Glacier Point, while more modest chalets are to be dotted about in the obscurer spots to make accessible the rarer beauties of the inner Yosemite. For with the new Tioga road, which, through the generosity of Mr. Stephen T. Mather and a few others, the Government has acquired, there is to be revealed a new Yosemite, which only John Muir and others of similar bent have seen. This is a Yosemite far different from the quiet, incomparable valley. It is a land of forests, snow and glaciers. From Mount Lyell one looks, as from an island, upon a tumbled sea of snowy peaks. Its lakes, many of which have never been fished, are alive with trout. And through it foams the Tuolumne River, which in a mile drops a mile, a water spectacle destined to world celebrity. Meeting obstructions in its slanting rush, the water now and again rises nearly perpendicularly, forming upright foaming arcs sometimes 50 feet in height. These "water wheels," a dozen or more in number, will be accessible next summer by a trail to be built when the snow melts in June.
While as the years have passed we have been modestly developing the superb scenic possibilities of the Yellowstone, nature has made of it the largest and most populous game preserve in the Western Hemisphere. Its great size, its altitude, its vast wilderness, its plentiful waters, its favorable conformation of rugged mountain and sheltered valley, and the nearly perfect protection afforded by the policy and the scientific care of the Government have made this park, since its inauguration in 1872, the natural and inevitable center of game conservation for this Nation. There is something of significance in this. It is the destiny of the national parks, if wisely controlled, to become the public laboratories of nature study for the Nation. And from them specimens may be distributed to the city and State preserves, as is now being done with the elk of the Yellowstone which are too abundant, and may be later with the antelope.
If Congress will but make the funds available for the construction of roads over which automobiles may travel with safety (for all the parks are now open to motors) and for trails to hunt out the hidden places of beauty and dignity, we may expect that year by year these parks will become a more precious possession of the people, holding them to the further discovery of America and making them still prouder of its resources, esthetic as well as material.
NATIONAL PARKS AND RESERVATIONS
The creation of the Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho by the act of March 1, 1872, marked the beginning of a policy on the part of Congress of setting aside tracts of land as recreation grounds for all the people. Since that time 12 additional national parks have been established in various sections of the country, the latest being the Rocky Mountain National Park, in Colorado, which park was opened to the public last June. The total amount of land embraced in these reservations is 4,665,966.25 acres. To these parks should be added as speedily as possible the Grand Cañon of the Colorado River, with its wonderful scenic features.
Visitors: The interest of the general public in these national parks has been clearly evidenced by the large number of requests for literature regarding them. During the season just closed there has been very marked increases in the number of tourists visiting these national playgrounds. In the Yellowstone National Park in 1914 there were 20,250 visitors, and this year two and one-half times as many—51,895. Yosemite National Park in California had 33,452 visitors during the 1915 season, whereas in 1914 only 15,145 persons visited the park. Again, in Mount Rainier National Park, Wash., there has been an increase in the number of visitors of over 100 per cent—35,166 in 1915 as against 15,038 in 1914.
Economic value of national parks: Leaving out of consideration the cost to visitors of transportation from their homes to the parks, a fair idea of the economic value of tourist travel in four of the larger parks may be obtained by consideration of the financial reports of concessioners, which show gross receipts for past seasons in the following approximate estimates: Yellowstone National Park in 1912, $1,067,161.34; in 1913, $1,186,811.36, and in 1914, $848,688.44. Yosemite National Park in 1912, $311,444.32; in 1913, $359,481.45, and in 1914, $334,914.32. Glacier National Park in 1913, $161,510.87, and in 1914, $155,716.14. Mount Ranier National Park in 1912, $56,735.93; in 1913, $66,942.76, and in 1914, $61,078.08.
Financial reports of concessioners in the parks for the season of 1915 have not yet been received in the department, but in view of the large tourist travel to the far West initiated by the expositions held in California, it is anticipated that marked increases in gross receipts by national-park concessioners will be noted.
Third national-park conference: In prior annual reports attention has been directed to the very satisfactory results obtained from bringing together in conference the various park superintendents for the purpose of discussing the many difficult problems presented in the administration of these reservations. In March of the present year the third conference of superintendents was held at Berkeley, Cal., under the immediate direction of the assistant to the secretary, at which there were in attendance other representatives of this department, representatives of the Departments of Agriculture and War, of the transcontinental railways, of many of the concessioners in the parks, as well as a number of other persons interested in national park matters. Questions were discussed pertaining to hotel accommodations, sanitation, transportation, construction of roads, trails, and bridges, forestry, fire protection, protection of game, and other phases of park administration. A detailed report of the conference will be published by the department.
The consensus of opinion at this conference as well as of those conferences held in 1911 and 1912, was that as many of the problems of park management were substantially the same throughout the several national parks, their supervision should be centralized or grouped together under a single administrative bureau specifically charged with such work. The conference developed many instances where economy and efficiency would be increased by a central administration of all the parks. For instance, the law does not permit the resident engineer of the Yosemite to be utilized at times in any other national park. A temporary surplusage of service or equipment can not be used to meet a corresponding need elsewhere. Without a central administration the national parks can not be handled together, like departments of one business, for the good of all.
Bills to create a national park service have heretofore been introduced in Congress, but none has as yet been enacted into law.
Appropriations and revenues: The total of appropriations made by Congress for protection and improvement of these parks during the year, expendable under this department, was $283,590, and the total revenues received from concessions in all the parks was $81,705.70.
Automobiles in the parks: Automobiles have heretofore been admitted under strict regulations governing travel of the roads to the Mount Rainier, Crater Lake, Glacier, Mesa Verde, General Grant, Platt, and Wind Cave national parks; over the Giant Forest Road, in Sequoia Na