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Full text of "The economic destiny of the National parks"

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR 

FRANKLIN K. LANE. SECRETARY 

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE 

STEPHEN T. MATHER. DIRECTOR 



THE ECONOMIC DESTINY OF THE 
NATIONAL PARKS 



AN ADDRESS 



J. HORACE McFARLAND 

President of the American Civic Association 

DELIVERED AT THE NATIONAL PARKS CONFERENCE 
AT WASHINGTON. D. C, JANUARY 3, 1917 




WASHINGTON 

GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 

1917 



E \uo 
.M/4 



JAN 2". 



ECONOMIC DESTINY OF THE NATIONAL PARKS. 

By J. Horace McFabland, President <>f (lie American Civic Association. 

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, the American Civic Asso- 
ciation early in its existence saw the importance of considering that 
national parks were actually national parks, and not merely inci- 
dental parcels of lands set aside by quite incidental legislation, and 
with a most fragmentary relation to the General Government. At 
the time we began to agitate the matter there was not a desk in 
AVashington which belonged wholly to the national-park work; 
indeed, there was not more than a third of a desk in any department 
relative to the nation's park possessions. 

Even before we began with the national parks as such, dealing 
with those already established, we thought it our duty to prevent 
aggression. It was rather early in Mr. Roosevelt's administration 
that I reecived a letter one day from a good woman who wanted to 
know if something could not be done to prevent the building of a 
trolley line around the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. 
I thought something could. So did Mr. Pinchot. So did Mr. Roose- 
velt. And the Grand Canyon immediately thereafter was, by Execu- 
tive order, declared a national monument. The trolley line is not yet 
there. 

Mr. Roosevelt was not addressed on the subject of national parks 
because the broad conception was not yet in our minds, but when 
Mr. Taft came into office as President we began, very early in the 
administration, an effort which brought us into close connection with 
the Secretary of the Interior. We went to Mr. Ballinger with the 
thought that the time had come to give the national parks a definite 
status. He quickly saw the idea, and the first draft of the national 
parks bill ever offered in Congress was prepared in the office of Mr. 
Ballinger, and submitted for review to a meeting of the American 
Civic Association. Every suggestion we made was immediately and 
fully adopted. That bill was offered by Senator Smoot in the 
Senate, and by Mr. Davidson in the House, both then firm friends 
of the parks, and still friends of the national parks. 

The essential thing in this legislation was that there should be a 
declaration as to what a national park was; what it was for. Fred- 
erick Law Olmsted it was who phrased that definition, and with all 
the mutations of the national park legislation, his phrasing has 

22308—17 3 



4 ECONOMIC DESTINY OF THE NATIONAL PARKS. 

remained. It has been the only thing we were unwilling to give up. 
Our idea of an advisory council we had to let go, but we have never 
been willing to see the declaration as to the purposes of the national 
parks eliminated from the bill, which is the reason we feel that the 
bill which was passed in August last is worth while. 

The American Civic Association kept on following the national 
park effort after Mr. Ballinger resigned. When Mr. Fisher came in, 
our relations became closer, and we followed throughout the admin- 
istration vigorously and insistently. I had the honor to write the 
words relating to national parks which appeared in one President's 
message, and it was a pleasure to find that the President of the 
United States could see that the national parks were worth bothering 
about. 

When Mr. Lane came into office, Mr. Watrous and myself did not 
allow much time to elapse until we saw him, and I well remember 
that on the 15th of March, 1913, when we called on him, he said that 
he had not had time to look into the matter seriously, but the idea 
of a national park service struck him favorably, and that if the rail- 
roads were conducted in the same manner as .the national parks, no 
man would be brave enough to ride from Washington to Baltimore. 

There was another relation the American Civic Association has 
had to the national parks which may properly be mentioned at this 
time. Wlien Mr. Roosevelt called that memorable conference on 
national resources in the White House in May, 1908, I had the honor 
to be present and to deliver an address on " The value of natural 
scenery as promoting patriotism," and I do not think that in con- 
nection with whatever I have done in a public way there has ever 
come to me more satisfaction than I felt, after finishing that short 
address, when the venerable old Secretary of Agriculture, Mr. 
Wilson, said, " Those are good words, my boy. The world will 
forget what the rest of us say here, but the women and the children 
will read and remember those words." 

Mr. Yard lias asked me, however, to address myself to " The 
economic destiny of the national parks." It is rather a large order 
for a 15-minute address. I will merely endeavor to give you the 
headings, so that you may think it out for yourselves. 

The American Civic Association has long since ceased to be in- 
terested in that unfortunate slogan " The city beautiful." We believe 
in efficiency, in accomplishing something. The beauty will come, 
and the thing that is not really useful is never beautiful. 

We have long known that recreation spells efficiency in communi- 
ties. I would like to ask that you give consideration to a few 
thoughts in that direction. We want to consider the use of the 
national parks as playgrounds. 



ECONOMIC DESTINY OF THE NATIONAL PARKS. 5 

I want to pound that single word "play" into your minds, if I 
may. Perhaps it docs not seem dignified to you. It means some- 
thing just the same. I have ventured to formulate a definition which 
I should like to have you consider. The lexicographers do not give it, 
but it is this: "To engage in exercise or occupation of any kind for 
diversion, amusement, or recreation." 

That's the kind of play we believe in, and the kind we expect to 
continue to promote. 

There is good reason for considering this angle of the subject. 
It has been worked out by a most able park superintendent. George 
A. Parker, of Hartford, Conn., that there is a definite amount of 
time spent by each human being in play. He assumes that the time 
not occupied in eating, sleeping, or working is playtime, and he 
insists that it amounts to at least five hours every day for every 
individual. If you will challenge the statement in your minds, you 
will be rather inclined. I think, to say that Mr. Parker's estimate 
is low. However. I ask you to accept for the moment the statement 
that five hours per day per person is being used for something else 
than eating, sleeping, or working. When that time is added up for 
the Nation of 110,000,000 people it becomes an incomprehensible 
sum of time — about 63,000 years — to-day, and to-morrow, and every 
other day the recreational expenditure of the United States of 
America. We do not control it at all ; it happens, whether or not. 
We have little to do with it. save that we can influence it; but we 
can not make it longer or shorter. We are tending all the time 
to make it longer as we reduce the hours of labor, and that movement 
is hardly likely to be stopped. 

Further, we spend money in this playtime, and Mr. Parker has 
figured that play averages us 2 cents an hour. That does not seem 
much, but when you pile it up for the United States of America, 
with the time used also, looking at 63,000 years a day and at 
$11,000,000 a day spent in money, doing something else than eating, 
sleeping, or working, the splendor of the problem which is before this 
present organization fully appears. 

This expenditure of time and money is always going on. We have 
only such influence as we may choose to exert, but we can not stop it. 
As I have said, I believe that the use of this play time ought to be 
beneficial, and that if it is we should be making a better nation 
rather than a worse nation all the time. The play time and expendi- 
ture includes the time and money used in churches, saloons, theaters, 
libraries, and everything not related to eating, sleeping, and working. 
There is not time here to go into the details, but they are awe-inspir- 
ing as to the divisions of the recreational expenditures of the people 
of this country, and I can not recommend to you a more wholesome 
survey than that of the play problem in your own home community. 



6 ECONOMIC DESTINY OF THE NATIONAL PARKS. 

See how it is spending its play time and play money, and see how 
infinitesimal is the amount of time diverted and the amount of money 
used for good. 

We believe, then, in the American Civic Association, that we 
should do our utmost to divert some of the play time and some of 
the play money toward the upbuilding of the people, and away from 
the down-pulling of the people. Now, public recreation may, in a 
general way, be separated, as it may relate to parks — the city parks, 
playgrounds, parkways, and sometimes I might say the county 
parks, which are intimately related to where we live. These provide 
" first aid to the injured." They give the first chance to see the sky, 
and to feel the influence of a clean, pure breeze. They do not always 
do that, for I have seen playgrounds in cities as dirty as they could 
be, but the general influence of the smaller parks and playgrounds is 
that of first aid to the injured. The broader areas, the State parks 
and the national parks, serve a different purpose. They reach after 
the spiritual side of the matter, and that side is the most important 
to the nation, because in it lies the whole impulse of patriotism, on 
which the safety of the nation depends. 

I have sometimes asked audiences whether they have ever heard 
of a desire to take up arms in defense of a machine shop. Of course, 
you can hire guards to defend a machine shop ; but do you ever hear 
of people springing to the defense of a town as unlovely, for in- 
stance, as Hoboken; or could the State of Pennsylvania be aroused 
to defend the smoke, filth, and dirt of Pittsburgh? No, not a bit 
of it ! Often the man who made his money creating the ugly condi- 
tions goes traveling, and w T hen he begins to boast he says very little 
about his smoking factory or his dirty towns. Pie exclaims about 
the beauty of his neighborhood, his State, his country. The whole 
basis of patriotism is love of country. Without it there is no safety. 

We can not expect people to go sightseeing in these lavish days 
and undergo discomforts. If the national parks are not made com- 
fortable as well :is comfortably accessible they will not be used, 
and an important means of promoting patriotism will lie dormant. 
If the parks are made easy for the people, they will be used exten- 
sively. I have had much to do, in my own park experience, with the 
intensive use of city parks, and have helped to work out certain for- 
mulas as to how to get the most people to make the most park visits. 
In Harrisburg, where I live, there are about 74,000 people, who make 
annually around seventeen hundred and fifty thousand visits to the 
parks. All Ave have done, Mr. Chairman, is to make the parks in 
TTarrisburg accessible and comfortable. God made them beautiful. 

Another of the things that could be done in the direction I am 
trying to indicate is to increase the number and proximity of these 



ECONOMIC DESTINY OP THE NATIONAL PARKS. 7 

parks. If there was on the wall here a map of the United States 
the national parks Mould show as only little spots, mere trifles; and 
they are so far off. I have just come in 38 or 40 hours from the 
shadow of one of the newest and the most accessible national park— 
the Rocky Mountain National Park. I had my eyes on Longs Peak 
on Sunday morning about 9 o'clock, and it has taken all the time 
since to get to Washington. It is too far off. 

The national parks are not close enough ; there are not enough of 
them. Why should the park center be so far beyond the center of 
population? Why should Ave in the East have to spend about $150 
to get the first whiff from the pines of the Rocky Mountain National 
Park, the first glimpse of its snows? Are we thus penalized be- 
cause we happen to live where the most people live? No, Mr. Chair- 
man, the parks must be brought close to the people. We who work 
out the problems of putting the park in competition with the hos- 
pital and graveyard and jail know that it is never safe in a com- 
munity to reckon on the women and children and deficient men going 
more than a quarter of a mile to a park. We know that we must 
put the parks in reach of the people. 

If national parks are worth while they must be where more people 
can reach them without large expenditure. It would be a good in- 
vestment for the United States to make a park survey of the entire 
country and to indicate certain areas as intended to be national parks 
to serve the Eastern States, others to serve the Middle States, and 
the Northern States and the Southern States. 

I insist the time must soon come when instead of having national 
parks created by accident or through the devotion of some interested 
man we must have a system of national parks all over the land in 
order to accomplish the upbuilding of patriotism. 

We want also unification in national park management. It is now 
the fact that there are three departments handling national parks — 
an obvious absurdity. If the departments do not soon fix it up 
between themselves, some independent agency like the American 
Civic Association, not caring whose toes it treads on, will need to try 
to eliminate some of the duplication. It would be a good job to put 
all the Federal departments into better relation. It would be doing 
a great thing for them and for the people. 

Congress now has spent a gigantic sum on the national parks — 
nearly a quarter of a cent per person a year. If it would spend a 
half cent per year per person for parks, I think Mr. Mather would 
think the millennium had arrived. And if 1 cent per person per year 
was provided, he would be unable to comprehend all that could be 
done for our national parks. 



8 ECONOMIC DESTINY OF THE NATIONAL PARKS. 

Yet Philadelphia spends $1.40 per person for park purposes; Mil- 
waukee, 93 cents; Pittsburgh, 53 cents. Why should not the United 
States spend a whole penny for each of us annually in our national 
parks? 

Let me put it in another way. The United States spends the 
gigantic sum of $700 a day on its vast areas of marvelous natural 
wonders; Philadelphia $655 on her little bit of most inadequate park 
area ; Milwaukee gets away with $1,076 ; and even smoky Pittsburgh 
spends $862 per day on her parks, which Pittsburgh knows is better 
than extending cemeteries and providing more policemen. 

We need extension of the sort of national park promotion we have 
recently had. Indeed the kind of management that has been going 
on in the last 18 months in the National Parks Service is so near 
business management that I do not see how it can have happened in 
Washington. Here are Mr. Mather and Mr. Yard, business men, 
actually managing national parks as if they were a business enter- 
prise. It is extraordinary; but I wish it might be extended, and that 
we might have a whole lot more of it, and that they might be given 
money, much real money to do the job, such as Mr. Schwab would 
give them if they were working for the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. 

I am not throwing mud at Congress, because Congress does the 
best it knows how, and we who elect its Members are the responsible 
persons. When w T e get around to having a budget in the United 
States and working with it like any business man, then we will get 
plenty of money for parks ; but I do not want to wait so long. This 
appropriation of 1 cent apiece for every inhabitant of the Nation 
ought to come right away, this session ; and it should be an automatic, 
continuing, annual appropriation of 1 cent apiece. That would 
mean the automatic increase of the support in proportion to the pop- 
ulation. There are American cities in which it is written in the 
organic law that not less than 1 mill of taxation shall be spent on 
the parks, and the park authorities in those cities can really plan, 
because they have something to plan for and something to plan 
with. 

I do not think that what I am now about to say will be popular, 
but I must say it. In the management of the parks I think the Gov- 
ernment should do the whole job. I see no room whatever for the 
delegation of the doing of anything in a national park. Nothing 
should be sold, except as sold at cost by the Government to the 
people. Why? The Government can buy in the cheapest manner 
and has indefinite credit. It pays no rent or taxes. It needs no 
profit. It needs to pay no interest on its investment. Naturally, 
therefore, it can render the same service at far less cost. If the Gov- 



ECONOMIC DESTINY OF THE NATIONAL PARKS. 9 

eminent can be trusted to send our letters the Government ought to 
be trusted to provide us with beds and food in the national parks. 
If the Government can be trusted to do the things it does through 
the Army and the Navy it should be trusted to run automobile stages 
for us in the national parks. 

I do not mean to criticize what has been done. I am full of ad- 
miration of what I have seen in the parks, and of those now doing 
park service on concessions; but the very fact that it is good busi- 
ness for them makes it bad business for the people. The only proper 
way is the handling of the functions of the people by the people. 
There are States that do that and cities, also. George A. Parker, 
Avhom I cited, is responsible for a most excellent and epigrammatic 
definition of the relation of service and business. He says : " Business 
is to get all you can for what you give, and service is to give all you 
can for what you get." 

And that's the answer. There is no possible reason why we should 
not have the cheapest and best service. This man Parker has been 
trying in Hartford to sell things at actual cost. He can not do it. 
He has been unable to avoid making a profit in selling milk and choc- 
olate and other things that he is permitted to sell, because he can not 
get the units down low enough not to make a profit. 

I hope you are familiar with the recreation centers on the South 
Side and West Side in Chicago. These are courageously run by the 
park authorities, things being sold at cost. They are magnificently 
handled because they are done for the people by the people. I would 
not want to be long in the company of one who says the people can 
not be trusted to do these things. Municipal government is no longer 
what Mr. Brice said it was 20 years ago — " The one conspicuous fail- 
ure of the American system." 

I go back to my starting point. " The economic destiny of national 
parks" is to promote patriotism; but there is another aspect to it. 
If we want to be a little bit calculating — and Americans are some- 
times said to be a little sordid — then, the economic destiny of the 
national parks is to bring a tremendous amount of money into the 
United States from abroad. I wonder if you realize that the one 
great natural wonder of the United States which is most attractive, 
and which is not yet safe until it becomes a big national park — 
Niagara Falls — is estimated to produce $30,000,000 a year of travel 
revenue outside of any power use that has been taken from it. Niag- 
ara Falls is easily accessible and is visited by 1,500,000 people each 
year. 

There is one truly tremendous travel revenue possibility for the 
United States — a possibility beside which the doings of Switzerland 
in attracting visitors might sink into insignificance. Indeed, Switz- 



10 ECONOMIC DESTINY OF THE NATIONAL PARKS. 

erland could be lost in Rocky Mountain Park. If we are willing to 
provide the conditions and facilities, the handling of the national 
parks becomes a purely economic proposition; an investment, not 
an expense. 

But the greatest of all park products, Mr. Chairman and ladies and 
gentlemen, is the product of civilization, the product of patriotism, 
the product of real preparedness, the product of manhood and 
womanhood, unobtainable anywhere else than in the broad, open 
areas which alone the Nation can provide. There, ladies and gen- 
tlemen, is a product which we must promote and which we must 
have, and everything we can do and everything we can spend which 
will increase the facilities of the United States for intensifying our 
all too feeble national spirit for increasing the fervor and vigor of 
Our spirit of devotion to the country — every such thing we can do is 
thoroughly worth while. That is then, ladies and gentlemen, the 
"economic destiny of the national parks" of the United States. 

o 



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