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Full text of "The American Civic Association's movement for a Bureau of National Parks. President Taft on a National Parks Bureau; address on ... December 13, 1911. The need for a Bureau of National Parks;"

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President Taft on a National 
Parks Bureau 


The Need for a Bureau of 
National Parks 

Secretary of the Interior 

Are National Parks Worth 

President American Civic Association 






For a Bureau of 
National Parks 


"I earnestly recommend the establish- 
ment of a Bureau of National Parks. Such 
legislation is essential to the proper manage- 
ment of those wondrous manifestations of 
nature, so startling and so beautiful that 
everyone recognizes the obligations of the 
Government to preserve them for the edifica- 
tion and recreation of the people. 

**The Yellowstone Park, the Yosemite, 
the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, the Glacier 
National Park and the Mount Rainier National 
Park and others furnish appropriate in- 
stances. In only one case have we made 
anything like adequate preparation for the 
use of a park by the public. That case is 
the Yellowstone National Park. Every con- 
sideration of patriotism and the love of na- 
ture and of beauty and of art requires us to 
expend money enough to bring all these 
natural wonders within easy reach of our 
people. The first step in that direction is 
the establishment of a responsible bureau, 
which shall take upon itself the burden of 
supervising the parks and of making recom- 
mendations as to the best method of improv- 
ing their accessibility and usefulness. *' 



The one evening session of the Seventh Annual Con- 
vention of the American Civic Association, held at Washing- 
ton, D. C, December 13, 14 and 15, was devoted exclusively 
to the national parks of the United States, with especial 
reference to the necessity of creating by Congress a Federal 
Bureau of Parks, within the Department of the Interior, to 
make possible their more adequate administration. 

Hon. Walter L. Fisher, Secretary of the Interior, presided, 
and introduced the several distinguished speakers of the 
evening, all of whom were staunch advocates of a more com- 
prehensive development of the great national parks. The 
most distinguished speaker was the President of the United 
States, who had in his recent annual message to Congress 
(and later in a special message) strongly recommended the 
creation of a Bureau of National Parks. 


Ladies and Gentlemen: 

It costs a good deal of money to run a government, and 
the first ambition of any one responsible for a government 
is economy — at least it ought to be. Therefore, the propo- 
sition to add a bureau or a department sends gooseflesh all 
over the body of anyone who has any sort of responsibility 
in respect to the finances of the government, for it means 
another nucleus for the increase of governmental expenses. 
Yet a modern government, in order to be what it ought to 
be, must spend money. Utility involves expense. 

Now, we have in the United States a great many natural 
wonders, and in that lazy way we have in our Government of 
first taking up one thing and then another, we have set aside 
a number of national parks, of forest reservations, covering 
what ought to be national parks, and what are called 
"national monuments." We have said to ourselves, "Those 
cannot get away. We have surrounded them by a law which 
makes them necessarily Gk)vernment property forever, and 

A r^ 


we will wait in our own good time to make them useful as 
parks to the people of the country. Since the Interior De- 
partment is the 'limiber room' of the Government, into 
which we put everything that we don't know how to classify, 
and don't know what to do with, we will just put them under 
the Secretary of the Interior." That is the condition of the 
national parks today. 

Those of you who have first been in the Yellowstone Park 
and admired its beauties, and thought of the ability of the 
army engineers to construct such roads as are there there, 
and then have gone on to the Yosemite and have seen its 
beauties, and found the roads not quite so good, and then have 
gone to the Grand Canyon, and found a place where you could 
bury the Yellowstone Canyon and the Yosemite, and never 
know that they were there, and found no roads at all, except 
a railroad that was built at a great expense, and probably at 
great loss, to the side of the Canyon, and only a trail called 
the "Bright Angel Trail," down into the Canyon — down 
which they would not let me go because they were afraid the 
mules could not carry me — you will understand that some- 
thing needs to be done in respect to those parks if we all are 
to enjoy them. 

I am in favor of equality of opportunity, and I resent an 
exclusion from the enjoyment of the wonders of the world 
that it only needs a little money to remove! 

Now the course that was taken in respect to the Yellow- 
stone Park ought to be taken in respect to all of our parks. 
If we are going to have national parks, we ought to make 
them available to the people, and we ought to build the roads, 
expensive as they may be, in order that those parks may 
become what they are intended to be when Congress creates 
them. And we cannot do that, we cannot carry them on 
effectively, unless we have a bureau which is itself distinctly 
charged with the responsibility for their management and 
for their building up. 

When the Secretary of the Interior, therefore, asked me 
to come here, and told me the subject of the meeting tonight, 
I was glad to come. It is going to add to the expense of the 
Interior Department, and it is going to swell those estimates, 
but it is essential that we should use what the Lord has given 
us in this way, and make it available for all the people. We 
have the money. It is not going to take enough to exhaust the 
Treasury. It is a proper expense, a necessary expense. Let 
us have the bureau. 


Secretary Fisher, in following the President, explained in 
detail "The Need for a Bureau of National Parks," pointing 
out the limitations of the existing provisions for their admin- 
istration and emphasizing the larger and more dignified 
administration that would be possible with a regularly 
constituted bureau. 


Secretary of the Interior 

During the past summer, or early fall — I have forgotten 
for the moment the exact date — there was held at the Yellow- 
stone Park the first conference that had ever been held of 
the people who were interested in a practical way in the 
administration of the national parks and in the various in- 
terests that lead up to and are connected with them, such as 
the railroads and the concessionaires for the hotel privileges, 
transportation privileges, photographic concessions, and 
matters of that sort within the parks. I have not seen the 
tabulation of the roster of that conference, but my recollection 
of it is that there were in attendance something in excess of 
one hundred. This conference was the result of an effort 
which had gone on for some considerable time on the part of 
the chief clerk of the Department of the Interior, Mr. Ucker, 
and Mr. Carr, who is the next in command in that line of 
administration, and the other people connected with the 
administration of the parks in the oflSce of the Secretary. 
They were joined in this, however, and had been in the pre- 
liminary arrangements and discussions, as I understand it, 
by the representatives of this organization, the American 
Civic Association, and others who were interested in the gen- 
eral subject of the improvement of our national parks. The 
conference that was held was a very practical one. There 
were a great number of developments considered by those 
who had been asked to prepare suggestions upon particular 
phases of park management and control and other matters 
connected with the national parks, and they were followed 
by general discussions from the floor, and, of course, much 
discussion and much talk quietly during the various recesses 
and in the evening. 

The American Civic Association, very naturally and 
properly, was represented at that meeting by its long-time 


president, who is so well known to you and to the country 
at large for his work in this direction. The discussions that 
went on, of course, related mainly to the question of what we 
could do to improve our national parks to make them more 
accessible to the public, and more attractive to the public. 
I do not know whether I shall in any way intrude upon the 
field which is to be covered by Mr. McFarland in his address, 
or by Senator Smoot, but I think it is proper I should call to 
your attention, for fear that they may not speak of, or be 
able to include in their remarks, some of the things that we 
often pass by, but which may be interesting and instructive 
to you and I think are to be considered. 

In the first place, the national parks, like Topsy, have 
"just growed;" at least that is the impression which has been 
produced upon my mind from such investigation and dis- 
cussion as I have given to them. There is no consistent 
theory of legislation with regard to the national parks. While 
some of them follow the general lines of previous statutes, 
there are wide variations in the statutory authority under 
which the parks are carried on today. The whole park work 
of some states is wholly different from that of others, and 
the situation in detail is almost radically divergent. For 
instance, I find some such question as this: Whether the 
revenues derived from a particular national park shall be 
available for the use of that park, its improvement and de- 
velopment. We have no consistent action. Two of our 
important parks are without statutory authority to that 
effect, so that such revenue as is derived from the park 
itself in any way has to go back into the general fund of 
the Nation, to be used in such a way as that derived from any 
other general source is used, and appropriated directly and 
specifically for that purpose. In other parks a very large per 
cent of the money available is directly available without 
appropriation. The same thing is true with regard to appro- 
priations which Congress gives to the parks. The importance 
and the political pressure which a particular park possesses 
bring to it appropriations larger than those which may be 
given to another. The result is that we have no consistent 
theory of park administration. 

There are many questions which any one could see at a 
glance are similar in all these parks. Take, for instance, the 
question of road-making. We have practically the same prob- 
lems in all of the parks with regard to road-making; at least 
in a very considerable number of them. For instance, there 


may be three or four parks where these problems are so 
similar that the general specifications, the general principles 
that should be applied, are identical, but they may differ 
from another class of these parks. 

Take many of the other questions that are raised in the 
parks. The whole question of the protection and disposition 
of the trees, the concessions, how the hotel concessions shall 
be managed, what requirements shall be made of the hotel 
proprietors, what regulations shall be made with regard to 
the casual ordinary visitor for his protection and so that he 
may receive the proper sort of service. These are very similar 
in all these parks, or, at all events, it is quite apparent that 
an examination into any given question in one of the parks 
would throw a great deal of light upon the same problem when 
it arises in other of the parks. 

I mention these things, simple as they may seem, to call 
your attention to the singular fact that, although there has 
been a great deal of talk of improved efficiency in our Govern- 
ment affairs, we have absolutely no machinery and no legal 
authority to use any machinery for the coordination of these 
parks so we may state this problem as a whole. The only 
thing we can possibly do in the way of coordination in the 
Interior Department is to see that questions that come to 
us for determination are referred to the same individuals in 
the Department. We can see that the chief clerk, or his 
assistant, shall primarily pass upon these matters; we may 
say that the assistant secretary — as distinguished from the 
first assistant, there being two — shall be the person to whom 
appeals shall go, the person to whom the chief clerk shall go 
for final determination of questions of importance; and we 
do. When we have done that we are through. We may use 
our Division of Mails and Files. We may use our Division 
of Publications and get a certain amount of effective work 
there; and we have Mr. Schmeckebier of that Division, who 
has accomplished some quite remarkable results, in my 
judgment, in the publicity line simply in getting out some 
material to those who are eager to have it. We have found 
that the American public is greedy for real news about the 
national parks; that it is genuinely interested in the national 
parks and ready to get anything that is not simply per- 
functory news upon this subject. But when we have done 
these things the Department of the Interior is through. That 
is all that it can do toward coordination. It would seem 
that it requires practically no argument to convince that the 


one thing we need at once for the efficiency of administration 
and economy in expenditure is to get these parks together 
under some division or bureau where they can receive the 
benefit of a central staff, where we can take the men who are 
now studying road-making, or the management of roads, or 
the sprinkling problem — which is, after all, to the traveling 
pubUc probably the most important question connected with 
the administration of the parks, because the hotels will do a 
certain amount of looking after their own interests along the 
lines of intelligent and enlightened selfishness. And the 
revenue is there. But if the roads are to be sprinkled and 
taken care of, that must be done purely as a matter of ex- 
penditure, and unless it is looked after by the administrative 
force it will not be looked after at all. 

Now it is perfectly apparent what we ought to have. We 
ought to have some sort of a central organization, something 
in the nature of a bureau, with a head and subordinates, so 
we can get proper expert talent and men who will devote 
their time to these matters, not merely with regard to one 
park but all the parks where the questions arise. It is per- 
fectly apparent that if we were studying any one of these 
questions with regard to any one of these parks, and were 
confined to that and the appropriation for that park, we 
could not get as good a man to study the problems in the 
case of the others. And, in the second place, after we have 
done it once, unless we can utilize his advice and experience 
some place else we won't get it at all. Then, another thing. 
We get rid of a good many of these isolated and separate 
and distinct appropriations. We would not have several 
appropriations made distinctly for the Yellowstone Park 
and made for the Yosemite Park and so on down the line, 
and each appropriation confined to that particular park or 
some particular function or interest in that park, but we 
would begin to learn that many of these problems are alike, 
that it is not enough to treat one park in one way and another 
in another way. We would have our Bureau bring forward 
the things in our parks which now do not receive particular 
attention, very largely through ignorance of the subject 
because the experience of the particular man who has that 
park in charge has not been so great as has been that of 
some other man. 

The result of all these reflections was that the conference 
to which I have referred was, so far as we were able to ascer- 
tain, unanimous upon the proposition that there should be 


established as promptly as possible a Bureau of National 
Parks, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, so 
that that Bureau might coordinate these parks and their 
administration and vastly improve their condition and their 
advantage to the public. In thib conference, this was not 
merely the expression of foresters, of those interested in the 
parks from the theoretical point of view, but the conviction 
of men who attended there representing the large railroad 
systems which lead up to those parks and which are directly 
interested in them. And it was a very significant thing to 
me, as I think it will be to you, to find that the Northern 
Pacific Railroad Company, whose road leads to one of our 
principal parks, was, and is, much in favor, through its rep>- 
resentatives, of having a National Park Bureau established, 
embracing other parks as well, purely from a scenic point of 
view. In other words, each particular railroad, which led to 
a particular park, was not interested solely in working for 
that park, but these men have reached that degree of en- 
lightenment in their selfishness — ^in their self-interest — that 
they have come to the conclusion that it was for their own 
best interest to have a National Park Bureau established. 

I have talked this matter over with the President, and 
I know that he is favorably interested in it, and that he gladly 
accepted the suggestion that he come over here this evening 
to meet this audience and express his own views in favor of 
this movement in which the American Civic Association is 
taking so prominent and leading a part. But you do not 
expect me to fill the stage this evening to the exclusion of 
those who have been regularly selected as speakers, and 
particularly not to take the place of, or infringe upon the 
time allowed to, Mr. McFarland, President of the American 
Civic Association. Recognizing, as I do, the practical and 
vigorous manner in which he has gone into this, as he has 
into most of the other problems in which the American 
Civic Association is interested, I feel that we have gained an 
ally — I should not put it that way — that we are allies with 
him, and that we are willing to help him and this Association 
in carrying on this work and see that we get from this coming 
Congress, if possible, a bill along the lines of that which 
Senator Smoot has advocated, which will permit of the estab- 
lishment of a bureau of the sort I have described. 

I take pleasure in presenting Mr. McFarland. [Applause.] 



President American Civic Association 


There can be only a negative reply to the query of the 
subject, unless it be conclusively shown that the national 
parks add definitely something of value to the life or the 
resources of the Nation. Mere pride of possession cannot 
justify, in democratic America, the removal from develop- 
ment of upward of five millions of acres of the public 


To establish true value, real worth-whileness, therefore^ 
it is necessary to put the national parks on trial. Indeed, as 
the national parks are but a larger development of municipal, 
county and state parks, we may quite properly put on the 
stand the whole American park idea. 

It is necessary to call the recent rapid development of a 
certain kind of parks in the United States an American idea, 
for it has no close parallel abroad. Examining, for instance, 
the admirable plan upon which the capital of Belgium has 
been developing since 1572, we note in Brussels an almost 
entire absence of such parks as those of Boston. The present- 
day plan of Paris shows that inside the old city there had 
been provided almost as large an area of cemeteries in which 
to store the dead as of parks in which to restore the energies 
of the living. Great London has barely an acre of parks for 
each thousand of her people — only a tenth of the ideal 
American provision of an acre for every hundred inhabitants. 
Even model Berlin is long on municipal forests and short on 
well-distributed municipal parks. The recently published 
Encyclopedia Britannica, written abroad, devotes just 
31 lines to the discussion of the word "park," and 17 of these 
lines refer to its military significance ! 

So the American service park is a New World idea, and 
it is even quite new in the New World; for, at the date of the 
Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, parks in the United 
States were few in number, small in extent, and largely upon 
European models. Within five years, indeed, a contest has 


raged in Greater New York around the idea of diverting a 
portion of Central Park from the service of the relatively 
few in the way of purely pleasure development to the service 
of the very many through the establishment of well-equipped 

Yet inquiry has developed that, in 1909, 74 American 
cities owned 41,576 acres of parks, an average of about four- 
tenths of an acre to the 100 of their population, and spent 
upon them that year for maintenance — that is, to make them 
of service to the people — an average of $91.42 per acre. 
Some of these cities are in what I call the honor class of 
American communities, in that they own and maintain an 
acre or more of parks for each hundred of their people. 
Such cities are Council Bluffs, MinneapoUs, Harrisburg, 
Colorado Springs and Springfield, 111. 


This American service park idea, into which we are in- 
quiring critically as to its true value, its relative eflSiciency, 
has its intensive development in modern playgrounds — those 
first aids to endangered American childhood, of which few 
examples are found abroad, and not nearly enough in our 
own county. We have multiplied schools in which to culti- 
vate the brain, but have delayed long in providing adequate 
facilities to develop and keep in order the body which houses 
the brain. Our cemeteries, our juvenile courts and our 
reform schools have increased much more rapidly than the 
means by which the city can hold back the population of the 
one and decrease the business of the others. 

Chicago, for instance, has notably discovered the truth 
as to this relation between crime and disorder and the small 
park and social center. It is a departing relation; for in 1909 
it was discovered that within a half-mile radius of her twelve 
splendidly equipped and maintained breathing-spots, veri- 
table life-saving stations in the midst of the sea of industrial 
strain and stress, juvenile delinquency had decreased 44 per 
cent, while in the same year it had increased 11 per cent in 
the city as a whole. 

Here, then, is the first evidence for the defendant at the 
bar — the American park idea. The service park, the ordered 
and supervised playground, act immediately and favorably 
on the health and the orderliness of the community, and 


consequently increase materially the average of individual 
eflftciency. In other words, they pay dividends in humanity. 


The park idea we are examining has a development in 
another way. The joining of separated parks by a highway 
of green, usually called a parkway, is the step taken when a 
community develops from the simple having of parks to the 
proud possession of a park system. The one may merely 
have happened; the other is always the result of a careful 
plan. Minneapolis, Hartford, Kansas City, Boston, Buffalo 
and other prosperous and advanced American cities have 
such systems. Chicago has a great plan for a park system, 
and owns some links in the chain which is to bind it together. 

An adequate park system, looking toward the future of 
the city, and giving to every inhabitant easy access without 
expense for transportation to the relief of a spot of green, to 
the recreation of a playground, is the most profitable invest- 
ment a city can make. It is profitable in promoting the wel- 
fare of the people; it is profitable in providing along its borders 
increased taxable values. For instance, Kansas City's Paseo, 
cut through her length, has cleared fully its cost in increased 
values, and even old Central Park in New York has returned 
to the city more than eight times the total amoimt spent in 
purchase and development within sixty years. 

I bring then before the court the second witness for the 
character and worth-whileness of the American park idea. 
Well-considered park improvements always react favorably 
upon community values. Proper park investments are usually 
placed at what amounts to compoimd increment. 


But there is another witness for the defendant. It is 
typified in the American flag, the emblem of our national 
existence, the concrete, visible essence of that love of country 
which manifests itself in the essential virtue of patriotism. 
Consider what it is that inspires us as we sing the national 
hymn. Is it our wonder of mining, showing in the hideous 
ore dumps, the sordid mining village? Is it in the burned- 
over waste that has followed the cutting of much of our forest 
wealth? Is it the powerhouse in which is harnessed the beauty 
of Niagara? Is it the smoking factory chimneys, the houses 


of the grimy mill town, the malodorous wharves along our 
navigable rivers? Is it even the lofty metropolitan sky- 
scraper, or the great transcontinental steel highway? 

No; not one of these produces patriotism. Listen to 
the most sordid materialist who is American in birth or resi- 
dence, as he boasts: it is always of the beauty of his town, 
his state, his country! Our devotion to the flag begins in that 
love of country which its beauty has begotten; it may end, 
at the last supreme test, in the beauty of soul that makes 
the patriot ready to die for his country in battle — if just 
battle there may ever again be. 

Now these parks that have been presented to you, and 
those I am yet to present, are, all of them, planned to show 
forth the beauty of the land. Never a service park have I 
seen or heard of that failed to use to the utmost the trees 
and the plants, the grass and the flowers that stand for our 
native land. Playgrounds are sometimes, perforce, on limited 
city spaces, but always there is at least the attempt to get 
the blue of the sky opened to the boys and girls. Into the 
brick and concrete heart of the city the park brings a little 
of the primeval outdoors, and here grows best the love of 
country which sees with adoration the waving stars and 

So I hold that, in safeguarding and stimulating the essen- 
tial virtue of patriotism, the beauty of the American park 
stands forth as most of all worth while. I urge that, as an 
antidote to the teachings of social disorder, as a counter- 
irritant to the saloon, as a relentless foe to the slum, the 
American park idea in the playground is most completely 


It is but a step across the country and the state park to 
the national park. There come, increasingly in these work- 
filled American days, times when the tired spirit seeks a 
wider space for change and rest than any city, or indeed, any 
state, can provide. The deep forests of the Sierras call, the 
snow-capped peaks of the Rockies beckon. The roar of 
Niagara can drown the buzz of the ticker. Old Faithful's 
gleaming column of silver spray shuts off the balance sheet. 
El Capitan makes puny the capital of any state, or of the 
nation. The camp under the oaks of the Hetch-Hetchy 
Valley, near the ripple of the Tuolumne, restores vigor, up- 


lifts the wearied spirit. What cathedral of man's building 
shows forth the power of God unto health of soul as does the 
Grand Canyon of the Colorado? The glacier wonderland 
of the Northwest gives us lessons on the building of the 
continent, and the giant sequoias of the Pacific Slope teach 
us of our own littleness. 

These national parks, then, are our larger playgrounds. 
Everything that the limited scope of the city park can do 
as quick aid to the citizen, they are ready to do more thor- 
oughly, on a greater scale. 

To the vast open spaces, the sight of great mountains, the 
opportunity to Uve a mile or more higher up, they add pos- 
sibiUties of real Ufe in the open just touched upon as yet, 
even though more than three thousand horses this year 
drew their owners on camping trips into the Yellowstone 

The national playgrounds, too, can, if they are held in- 
violable, preserve for us, as no minor possessions can, our 
unique scenic wonders, our great natural mysteries. The 
spouting geyser basins and marvelous hot springs of the 
Yellowstone, the atmospheric splendors of the Grand Canyon 
of the Colorado, the silver threads of the Falls of the Yosem- 
ite, the ancient homes of the cliff-dwellers on the Mesa 
Verde, the ice marvels of the Montana glaciers, the blue 
marvel of Crater Lake, the towering temples amid the big 
trees of the Sierras — how long would they last unharmed and 
free to all the people if the hand of the Federal Government 
was withdrawn from them? Ask harassed, harnessed Niagara 
— depending right now for its scenic life upon the will of this 
Congress — after, indeed. Congress alone has saved it until 
now from state neglect 1 


The nation now has, it should be said, vast and admirably 
handled national forests, potential with profit for all the 
people. But there must be no confusion between the differ- 
ing functions of the forests and the parks. 

The primary function of the national forests is to supply 
lumber. The primary function of the national parks is to 
maintain in healthful eflBciency the hves of the people who 
must use that lumber. The forests are the nation's reserve 
wood-lots. The parks are the nation's reserve for the main- 


tenance of individual patriotism and federal solidarity. The 
true ideal of their maintenance does not run parallel to the 
making of the most timber, or the most pasturage, or the 
most water-power. 

Our national parks are young. They are yet undeveloped 
to any considerable extent. But one of them, the Yellow- 
stone, is comfortably accessible. Their value to the nation 
is potential, more than instant, simply because they are not, 
as a whole, yet known to our people. The nearest east of 
them is fifteen hundred miles west of the country's center 
of population in Indiana. Our people yet cross three thou- 
sand miles of salt water to see less impressive scenery, less 
striking wonders, less inspiring majesty in canyon, waterfall 
and geyser, than they have not seen at home, because the 
way to Europe has been made broad, comfortable and 


In 1 9 10, barely two hundred thousand visitors to our 
thirteen national parks and our twenty-eight national 
monuments were reported, but all the east-bound Atlantic 
greyhounds were crowded to their capacity. We have not yet 
begun to use the national parks; we have not commenced to 
attract to them a share of the golden travel tide which is said 
to have taken from America to Europe $350,000,000 in 1910. 

Indeed, we are not ready for visitors in our national parks. 
We have, as yet, no national park system. The parks have 
just happened; they are not the result of such an overlooking 
of the national domain as would, and ought to, result in a 
coordinated system. There is no adequately organized 
control of the national parks. With 41 national parks and 
monuments, aggregating an area larger than two sovereign 
states, and containing priceless glories of scenery and wonders 
of nature, we do not have as efficient a provision for admin- 
istration as is possessed by many a city of but fifty thousand 
inhabitants for its hundred or so acres! In a lamentable num- 
ber of cases, the administration consists solely in the posting 
of a few warning notices ! 


Nowhere in official Washington can an inquirer find an 
office of the national parks, or a desk devoted solely to their 


management. By passing around through three departments, 
and consulting clerks who have taken on the extra work of 
doing what they can for the nation's playgrounds, it is pos- 
sible to come at a little information. 

This is no one's fault. Uncle Sam has simply not waked 
up about his precious parks. He has not thrown over them 
the mantle of any complete legal protection — only the Yel- 
lowstone has any adequate legal status, and the Yosemite is 
technically a forest reserve. Selfish and greedy assaults 
have been made upon the parks, and it is under a legal 
"joker" that San Francisco is now seeking to take to herself 
without having in ten years shown any adequate engineering 
reason for the assault, nearly half of the Yosemite. Three 
years ago several of us combined to scotch and kill four 
vicious legislative snakes under which any one might have 
condenmed at $2.50 per acre the Great Falls of the Yellow- 
stone, or even entered upon a national cemetery for the 
production of electric power at the same price for the land I 

Now there is light and a determination to do as well for 
the nation as any little city does for itself. The Great Father 
of the nation, who honors us tonight by his presence, has 
been the unswerving friend of the nation's scenic possessions. 
He has consistently stood for the people's interest in Niagara; 
he now stands for their interest in the nation's parks. 

His Secretary of the Interior, the presiding officer of the 
evening, has applied his great constructive ability to the 
national park problem. It was at his invitation that the first 
national park conference was held in September last. He 
has visited most of the parks, and, coming from a city where 
intensive park development has proceeded to be a greater 
beneficence than in any other in the world, he comprehends 
fully the American service park idea. 


There is, then, hope for the parks. The Congress will not 
refuse, I am sure, to enact legislation creating a Bureau of 
National Parks, to the custody of which all the nation's 
pearls of great price shall be entrusted. Under such a 
bureau, aided by a commission of national prominence and 
scope, I predict that there will be undertaken not only such 
ordering of the parks as will vastly increase their use and their 
usefulness, but such a survey of the land as will result in the 
establishment of many new national parks, before it is too late. 


Niagara, never more in danger than at this moment, 
must eventually, if it is to be a cataract and not a catastrophe, 
come under the federal mantle as a national reservation as 
President Taft has again recently urged. In no other way 
can America be saved from the lasting disgrace that now 
threatens our most notable natural wonder. A nation that 
can afford a Panama Canal cannot afford a dry Niagara! 

There is something inspiring in the thought of a national 
park sacred to the memory of the great liberator, and adding 
to the beauty and dignity of the city in which he poured out 
his last full measure of devotion. A Lincoln Memorial 
National Park, joining the lovely forests between Washington 
and Baltimore and AnnapoUs to the Potomac, would be a 
thousand times more fitting tribute to the glory of our first 
martyr than a mere commercial highway. 

He whose genius made the nation, and whose wisdom 
planned this Federal City to be a fitting capital for a hundred 
millions of free people when yet there were but a scant three 
millions clinging to the Atlantic seaboard ought also to be 
thus memorialized. Why shall not Mount Vernon and its 
environs come into a great Washington Memorial National 
Park which shall Unk together anew, as it reaches the 
Potomac, the fame of our two greatest presidents, and for- 
ever blot out a line once fought over in civil warfare? 

Nothing is more certain than that eventually the nation 
will come to own memorial areas, which shall serve a double 
purpose in their tributes to the departed great and their 
beneficence to the Hving. Delay means but enhanced and 
compounded cost. With such a truly patriotic provision for 
the future as well as the present as would be involved in the 
creation of a great national park system, available to the 
people of the East as well as to those of the West, our federal 
scenic possessions would come to attract the travel of the 
world. Inadequate though they are now, inaccessible as 
they are now, unadministered as they are now, our national 
parks have added very definitely to the resources of our people, 
and are well worth while. When they shall have been given 
the attention that is in the minds of our President and our 
Secretary of the Interior, they will increase in efficiency, in 
beauty, in extent, and in benefits open to all the people, so 
that tJiey will even more be entirely worth while. 

Secretary Fisher: "I am sure that there is no one from 
whom this audience and the country would rather hear on 


this subject than the chairman of the Public Lands Committee 
of the Senate, who has shown in many ways his interest in 
park questions, and I take great pleasure in introducing to 
you Senator Smoot, of Utah, who will speak on the subject 
of 'What the National Parks May Mean to the West.' " 


The difficulties which are now experienced in administering 
the affairs of the national parks and in developing them 
after any given plan were emphasized by Senator Smoot. 
"Separate appropriations are now made for each park, making 
it impossible for the Secretary of the Interior to concentrate 
the efforts of his department in their behalf," the Senator 
said, and in this connection he referred to the subject matter 
of a bill, which he had introduced in Congress which, he 
said, would correct this evil and would also result in a 

"If we do thus centralize the control of the parks," the 
Senator continued, "I am sure it will make the greatest 
playgrounds of the nation of vastly more benefit to all of the 
people. Instead of the expenditure of many millions of dollars 
travehng to Europe, we will then see the money being spent 
on American railroads, in American hotels, for American 
guides and with American merchants and farmers. The 
time will come when it will be both popular and fashionable 
for Americans to have seen the marvels of the National 

The Senator spoke of the increasing popularity of these 
great Government reservations of the West and said that 
while the number of visitors last year was only 186,000, the 
number of visitors this year was 224,000. But, he declared, 
the value of the parks cannot be estimated in mere sordid 
dollars and cents ; for if the city parks can be said to be the 
lungs of the city, the national parks can be said to be the 
lungs of the nation. 


Mr. Enos A. Mills, of Estes Park, Colorado, well known 
as a lecturer and writer on nature subjects, was listened to 
with rapt attention as he told a delightful story of "Wild 
Life in a National Park." 



The session concluded with the presentation of "Some 
Picturesque Features of Our National Parks," by Mr. Herbert 
W. Gleason, of Boston, illustrated with more than one hun- 
dred exquisitely colored stereopticon views, the result of Mr. 
Gleason's own observation and visits in the national parks, 
over a period of many years. These pictures presented 
features unsuspected by the average citizen of the United 
States, and, in particular, drew emphasis to the exquisite 
floral life of the national parks. President Taft remained 
during nearly the whole of Mr. Gleason's address, which was 
listened to with the utmost gratification.