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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
FRANKLIN K. LANE. SECRETARY
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
STEPHEN T. MATHER. DIRECTOR
THE NATIONAL PARKS FOR ALL
PERHAPS OUR GREATEST
( The Greater Sequoia )
TWO ADDRESSES : : By ENOS MILLS
DELIVERED AT THE NATIONAL PARKS CONFERENCE
AT WASHINGTON, D. C, DURING THE FIRST WEEK
OF JANUARY, 1917
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFHCE
B. of J.
THE NATIONAL PARKS FOR ALL THE PEOPLE.
By Enos Mills.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, the Yellowstone was the
first national park in the world. There is an inspiring story in con-
nection with the making of this park. Possibly you have heard it.
At any rate, in September, 1870, a number of prominent citizens from
Helena, Mont., were camping in the Yellowstone wonderland. They
had just spent about two weeks in looking over the scenes within.
They had gone there for the purpose of doing so, simply because
they believed that such a region as they had heard the Yellowstone
to be did not exist.
As a matter of fact, it might be well to say right here that the
Yellowstone wonderland contained so many peculiar wonders that
it was actually discovered and forgotten five times. The original
discoverer of the Yellowstone, John Coulter, one of the greatest
names in the outdoor world, when he told of the story of the discovery
of Yellowstone Park, he was laughed at and ridiculed so much that
he vanished and died, as he felt, in disgrace. Yet the Yellowstone
wonderland existed. These prominent Montana men had gone, and
they had found the Yellowstone, had found it greater than the
wildest, strangest stories that had ever been told concerning it. But
they were just ready to le?-:'e this wonderland. They had seen the
marvelous canyon and the white waterfall that went plunging over
into it. They had seen the petrified forests, the greatest geological
wonder of the world. They had seen those strange, poetic geysers.
They had seen all of those things. But this night they were camp-
ing near the geysers, and a number of the men were discussing as to
how they might obtain control of the Yellowstone wonderland that
they might exploit it and make a fortune out of it — a perfectly
natural thing for the American business man to think of. But there
was one man. a statesman, who sat by the camp fire for a time and
said nothing. Finally — and I hope you will tell your children of
this man — ^Cornelius Hodges rose to his feet.
" Boys," he said, " you are on the wrong track. The Government
owns this wonderland, and it ought forever to own it. This region
ought to become a national park for the benefit and welfare of all
His idea prevailed. He was so enthusiastic that a number of men
in the party caught his enthusiasm. A campaign was waged, and as
4 NATIONAL PAKKS.
a result, on the 1st day of March, 1872, the first national park in
the world came into existence. Heretofore the beautiful places, the
scenic lands, had been set aside for the favored few, but this is one
of the great things concerning a national park or for any park, it
is made and it is developed for the general welfare.
In considering any welfare work, a park must ever be considered.
But a park, especially a national park, is something utterly separate
from welfare work, because the national park belongs to the people
themselves. In other words, it is a park of the people, for the people,
and by the people. It won't be the same as erecting great libraries
and that sort of thing for the benefit of the people. These parks are
something that people are caring for for themselves. Why do we
want them? I believe you will agree with me that it has become a
public function to look after the recreation facilities of the public.
There is no other way in which they are likely to be looked after in
a correct manner.
Everyone needs to play, and to play out of doors. And outdoor
play never fails to help all that is good. If you want to further
people's health or their inefficiency, or expand their ideals, give them
a chance to meet their fellow people out under the open sky in some
If park life will promote health and prevent sickness, isn't it far
better to urge parks than it is to build so many hospitals? Isn't it
better to prevent disease than to cure it?
It is a known fact, as is shown by pioneer people and the children
of pioneers, that nature is a marvelous educational stimulus. If this
be true, and it certainly is emphatically true, why not give the chil-
dren of the country the opportunit}^ to enjoy park life, and especially
the national parks? In the national parks you will find some of
the greatest wonders of the world, wonders not elsewhere to be
found. Hence, these parks might be used educationally, and thus
we might cut down the list of those things that are hurtful to hu-
manity, and we might thereby reach the conclusion that after all one
of the greatest things which the public needs is outdoor recreation.
This being true, we certainly need parks, and then more parks.
As the Secretary of the Interior said to you this morning, " The
Nation is calling for volunteers to the Army and to the Navy and to
do other things." Yet he stated emphaticalh^ before you that vol-
unteers .to help further the work of creating and developing national
parks is one of the greatest needs of this Nation or any nation. It is
something, as I have just said, and I repeat, that reaches all people
and helps the interests. It is not a question of what they are going
to cost. We can not afford to do without parks.
NATIONAL PARKS. 5
This afternoon is devoted, as I understand, chiefly to the idea of
developing parks. A number of Congressmen addressed the audience
here this morning, and a majority really appreciate the great possi-
bilities of parks. We ought not to think what they cost, but we
must think that we could not afford to do without them. It would
not do to try to make the public school pay; it would not do to try
to make the public playgrounds pay; well, now, neither would it do
to make the national parks or any other park pay. I think we
would blunder if we worked along that line.
I would like to sa}^ that civilization appears to have reached its
highest point at the present moment in the Interstate Park, near
New York City. There nearly $13,000,000 have been spent on parks,
and that park has been developed with the idea tliat people want
it and need it, and that it is theirs — and there, ladies and gentlemen,
there is not a single concession in the Palisades Interstate Park. No
individual or company can make a profit out of exploiting the neces-
sary pastimes of theij' fellowship in the Palisades Interstate Park.
And, Mr. Chairman, I believe you will realize that within a few
years the American people will insist that the people must not only
own their parks, but they must run them absolutely themselves. Just
at present that might be impossible, but we are moving undoubtedly
in the right direction.
Well now, I would like, and I believe everyone who is interested in
parks would like, to see them developed for all the people; that is
to say, the rich, the near rich, and the poor. In the Interstate Park
they make special efforts to find the way to have people transported
to the park who can not afford to go there themselves. Now, that is
doing real service. If you give people an opportunity to rest in a
park, they will save doctor's bills, and they will avoid, perhaps,
sickness and that sort of thing. Hence, this preventive measure
which you find, you might say, in all parks if they are used is one
of the best things that can happen to any people. Hence, let us
develop the i^arks.
Last winter in a brief address Mr. Robert B. Marshall, in speaking
of the development of parks, said he thought they should be devel-
oped for all the people; that is to say, a hotel in there where a
poor man could spend a day without paying any more than it actu-
ally costs — a low-priced and a popular-priced hotel; and if anyone
wanted to go to a national park to spend $100 a day, by all means
let us be ready for him. If we do not give him a chance to spend his
money in this country, he Avill spend it in another country; if we
do not give him a chance to spend his monej" in a park, he will
spend his money in the saloon. Let us remember that the park is
a competitor against all places of evil, and the majority of people
Vill go to good places if they are provided for them.
6 NATIONAL PARKS.
And Mr. Marshall also said that the buildings should be attrac-
tive, and fit harmoniously into the surroundings; or, as he ex-
pressed it, they should not scare the scenery !
Before going further I would like briefly to name some of the
parks that I find in wandering over the country. Not one indi-
vidual in a thousand can name more than four national parks. At
present there are really at least 16. I wish there were 16 more. At
the head of this list I would like to see the Grand Canyon.
But before naming these parks, just a little outdoor experience
which I once had: Once in my rambles in the mountains oA a rainy
day, I took a refuge in a prospector's tent. The storm was breaking,
and the prospector and I stood outside of the tent looking down
into the canyon, watching the clouds separate and drift away.
Lightning had occasionally struck around us. It was a day of thun-
der showers. And as we ^tood there, lightning struck a fir tree close
to our tent, and with a terrific report smashed the tree to pieces.
I was frightened, but to let my companion think that I was not
alarmed, I said to him, " Jerry, why doesn't lightning ever strike
twice in the same place? " And Jerry replied, ^' Gosh, it don't need
to ! "
Ladies and gentlemen, many nations have fallen, but never for
having too many parks or too much scenery — not a single one. So
let us have at least ample park room, so if nations must pass away,
it will not be because they have failed to have outdoor life.
A well-known author, some years ago, wrote a story about an
experience in London. He said he was the twenty-second one that
had bathed in the same water in the family trough of a poor rural
family, but that was not half as bad as breathing the same air every
day. Therefore, we need outdoor breathing places. These parks
afford outdoor breathing places.
As to parks, I briefly touched on the Yellowstone. Then there is
the Glacier National Park, one of the largest ones. Perhaps, the
greatest area of mountain lakes in the country, about 250 of them,
are in this park, and above them rise precipitous high mountains. I
will not dwell on its wonders.
Out near Seattle is Mount Eainier National Park, often called the
noblest mountain in the West, should be mentioned in this connec-
tion. Mount Eainier is a sleeping volcano. It has a heart of fire,
but on the outside of it 50 square miles of glacial ice on the top,
and on the lower slope a splendid forest, and between these what
happens? The most luxurious and grandest wild flower garden in
In Oregon they have the Crater Lake National Park, the crater
of an old volcano, about 6 miles in diameter, partly filled with water,
which, when seen from the top, appears marvelously strangely blue.
NATIONAL PAKKS. 7
California leads in the number of national parks and it ought to
have others. Surely the greater Sequoia National Park ought to be
created. In California you have the Lassen Volcanic National Park,
the Gen. Grant, the Yoseniite, and the Sequoia. And the Sequoia
has the grandest and greatest forest in the world. In that forest are
trees that are 2,000 years old, many of them more than 20 feet in
diameter, trees old in story, many times the age of the oldest nation
on earth. The smaller parks I shall not trouble to name. In Colo-
rado there are a couple of parks well worth seeing. In the south-
western part of the State on Avhicli rises about 2,000 feet above the
surrounding country are the ruins of a prehistoric Indian civiliza-
tion. There were houses and temples upon the mesa and there were
wonderful cliff houses of more than 200 rooms, built of polished
stone. No one knows where those people came from, why they lived
there, or what had become of them. But there they evidently lived
through many centuries and surely they must have been civilized
people. The ruins they left behind, at any rate, are suggestive and
interesting and even inspiring. And in the Rocky Mountain Na-
tional Park, in Colorado, you will find the rocks at their best, dotted
here and there with lakes and draped with verdant forests.
There are other parks which I have already suggested which I
shall not even name to-day; but one of the newer ones, off in the
Hawaiian Islands, is another wonderland. So in our national parks
we have a great variety of wonderland. In some of them there are
scenes of the highest type which you can not find elsewhere in the
I believe that the development of national parks is about the only
advertising that they need. So I think the keynote of the present
time should be to get our national parks ready to be seen. People
are going to them just as rapidly as people find that they can get
accommodations. At the Interstate Park in New York, in speaking
of the machiner}^ for handling the crowds, the gentleman who has
charge of it the other day said : " The people are coming to that park
more rapidly than we can get ready for them." So back of and
accompanying all national-park legislation we should bear in mind
that people will go to these places if we get them ready for the
Mr. Charles Sheldon, who has had years of experience in the out-
doors, is urging forward the malring of a national park in Alaska of
Mount McKinley and part of the surrounding region. This is a
most worthy project, for the simple reason that one of the great
things that it will now accomplish will be the protection of the
game. Alaska is being settled ; a railroad is close to this park ; and
in two or three short years the greatest mountain sheep range in the
8 NATIONAL PARKS.
world is likely to be depleted of its sheep unless this is made a park.
So I would like to commit that proposition.
The Secretary this morning; referred to the fact that volunteers
are needed in the ntjtional park work. T am not i^oing to commend
the work of anyone who has labored in the last few years, but I do
want to refer to the work of three men who have rendered national
parks splendid service. Mr. Will G. Steel, who now has the digni-
fied title of judge, spent seventeen years, ladies and gentlemen, in
working to procure for you and me and future generations the Crater
Lake National Park. Seventeen years; think of the man so devoted
to a cause that he will give the best' years of his life and all the
money that he could earn and borrow to create a national park.
But he did. And then there still lives in southern California Mr.
Stuart, and it was chiefly through the efforts of this one man that
we have to-day the Sequoia National Park. But in thinking over the
names of those who have been helpful to national parks, and honor-
ing as I do Mr. Cornelius Hedges, who really proposed the first
national park, a greater work than that done by all was done by
that magnificent man, John Muir.
I really feel that John Muir did more for the human race during
the century that just passed in good that will be reaped in the cen-
tury in which we are now living than any other individual. He
wrote the poem of the outdoors ; he pointed out its beauties ; and the
name of John Muir will be forever associated with our national
parks, with the great glaciers, with the big trees, with sunlight and
shadow, with the canyons, with the wildflower gardens, and with
every song that nature sings in the wild gardens of the world. To-
day I am most thankful, among all the heroes in American history,
or of the world, to John Muir. I hope and believe that after the
names of all the other heroes of nature are forgotten that John
Muir's name will live. He was a man who did not use or carry a
But now, ladies and gentlemen, there are still other places which
I feel should be parks, and for fear some people misunderstood me,
let me say right here that I am not a Government official, I am not
speaking for Government officials, I am not speaking for any organi-
zation. I simply represent my o^vn ideas, and in saying what is
about to follow, let me say that I simply believe that they represent
the general ideas of the people of the United States who have
thought concerning national parks, and are — yes, as one of the Con-
gressmen stated this morning, I believe it would be a wise thing for
the people of the United States at once to make all of the national
parks — to have scenery fit to go into a national park. All this would
include places that have already passed into private hands. These
NATIONAL PARKS. 9
scenic places will never get any cheaper or more beautiful than they
are to-day. Hence, if they are to be parks, let us urge their creation
now. That would be a noble kind of preparedness.
The Government among its 700,000,000 acres of land has a number
of scenic areas that might well be made national parks. You know,
as well as I do, that much of the attractive quality of national parks
or of any scenery is perishable — birds, flowers, etc. Hence, such
regions should be at once created, not to-morrow, not next year, but
why not do it now ? The Government has to maintain its own scenic
areas whether they are parks or not; so why not make the subject
larger so it will appeal to all the people of the country? Show
them what an unrivaled inheritance they have by at once designating
the territory that is to become national parks.
There is an interesting Indian legend which substantially is this,
that in the closing acts of creation the woman was called into exist-
ence and told to do her part. She at once covered the earth with the
beautiful, with the flowers, the birds, and the trees. Now, that's
the kind of a woman to have at the creation of a world, and that's
the kind of women and men we need to-day, who will perpetuate
some of its primal beauty. It is being done in national parks ; and
so the Indians, in their realistic poetic way, saw years ago what
Victor Hugo so well stated; that is, that the beautiful is as useful
as the useful. If you will stop for a moment and recall this fact that
sometime ago the Declaration of Independence was written — now,
did you ever stop to think it was written by people who were inti-
mately in contact with nature ; that the Declaration of Independence,
after all, was but the spell of the wilderness ; and that hundreds upon
hundreds of years ago we met on the mountains of Switzerland at
the founding of Switzerland, and said amid magnificent scenes : " We
will stand each for all and all for each," and then still further
some time ago Australia was colonized by convicts who were rele-
gated there by people who were worse than convicts. But Mother
Nature took charge of them all; they were among primal scenes,
and in a short time those people have become real human beings,
and to-day the Australian men and women are second to none in
the world. Nature did her part there.
South America is still mostly a primeval wilderness. I look at
the great women she is beginning to produce, and she is only just
beginning. It all but emphasizes what I said in the beginning of
the address that we need parks for their mental stimulus, for their
inspiration. We need them for education ; we need them that we
may have greater men and women.
Scenery is the most profitable resource that we have. Switzer-
land has grown rich by exploiting its scenery. The year before the
10 NATIONAL PARKS.
breaking out of the war in Europe 500.000 Americans were abroad.
They spent on an average of $1,000 a piece, which means they
took out of the country $50,000,000. They spent most of this for
scenery, and they spent it chiefly because the American scenery was
not ready for the traveler. So, if we want Americans to see America,
we simply have to think of the development of our parks and gQt
ready for the travelers.
So, for practical business reasons, we may say develop the parks
because the}' will pa}', and we can not get along without them.
Parks pay dividends in humanity. Within the magic scenes of
national and other parks lies the hope of the world.
PERHAPS OUR GREATEST NATIONAL PARK.
By Enos Mills.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, it is a profound pleasure
to say a few words, and I shajl speak but briefly concerning the
Greater Sequoia Park, perhaps our greatest national park. The
speakers who have preceded me have given you some idea of it.
Those who follow me will give you still other ideas of it. So I
shall try to be brief. When it comes to a variety of scenes in one
locality, scenes which embrace, you might say, almost every class of
outdoor beauty, you will find them in the region proposed for the
Greater Sequoia National Park.
Three years ago, in addressing an audience concerning national
parks, I had been describing all the places that are national parks,
and some that I thought should be, some one in the audience asked me
this unusual question : " Mr. Mills,»if you were sentenced to serve the
rest of your life in one of the national parks, which one would you
select?" "Without the slightest hesitation I said, "The Sequoia
National Park." Of course, the supreme attractions in that park
are the big trees. Let us notice this park region at the present time.
The Sequoia National Park embraces about 265 square miles. The
proposed park would include an area of 1,600 square miles; the
region included would be one which you would classify as a scenic
one. You have been hearing a great deal about land classification.
Land has been classified as agricultural, forest, mineral, or high land,
and all that sort of thing; but from now on, ladies and gentlemen, it
is time to make a higher classification — that is, a scenic classification
of land — because from scenery we get the greatest benefits to man-
kind; and, after all. scenic land has higher value if used for the
benefit of men, women, and children than any other land known.
This region of 1,600 square miles lies at the southern end of the
Sierras, approximately 100 miles north of Los Angeles. All of you
have heard of the Death Valley. Ip a straight line about TO miles
from the Death Valley is Mount Whitney. It is an interesting fact
that the lowest point in the United States should be within 70 miles
of the highest point ; that the lowest point, the Death Valley, which
is not a very poetical looking place, did not look to me, when I was
there as a young man, as though it was a good place in which to grow
up with the country. At any rate, move just a short distance west-
ward from Death Valley and you get a very radical change, not so
12 NATIONAL PARKS.
much of latitude as differences. It seemed to when I first visited
the Sequoia Park region that all of the great wonders of the world
had been piled in that locality. Incidentally, I may say that as a
boy, wandering in the wilds because I enjoyed it, one September
evening, I found myself in the Giant Forest in the Sequoia National
Park, This Avas just about at the time it was made a national park.
in 1890, and although I have stood in many w^onderful places,
although I have looked upon the l»igh central peaks in Alaska as
they rise above the white clouds, although I have stood by that bril-
liantly colored canyon in the Yellowstone and looked upon the
wonderful scenes in Mount Rainier, yet never, any place, have I stood
where I felt so a part of the Infinite as I felt when I stood in the
Giant Forest in the Sequoia National Park.
In this park, as I have already said, was a great range of attrac-
tions. First of all there is the high peak, Mount Whitney, 14,501 feet
high. Now there are in the United States more than 100 peaks that
are above 14,000 feet, but only one that rises above 14,500. There
you have a high peak. Then in this same region you haA e the Kings
and Kern Canyons, unrivaled in the world as canyons of their kind.
And then, best of all, are these big trees.
A tree is the best friend that a man has. The human race, all the
way from cave to college, has been benefited by the trees in the
United States, but in this park the trees attain their highest de-
velopments. A tree lives longer and grows larger than any other
living thing. In this park as it now stands, there are about 1,000,000
big trees. Some of them are of simply stupendous size. This park,
if extended, will of course include the General Grant National Park,
in which stands the largest tree in the world, the General Sherman,
a tree old certainly, known in story, probably 6,000 years of age.
I wonder if the boys and girls in the room at the present time have
ever stopped to think that the tree has to stand in one place all of
its life, although it may live hundreds and thousands of years.
A little tree may start to grow ; it grows a few inches, then it grows
9 few inches more ; then a few feet more. But in the spring and
summer and winter there it stands in one place. In its top the birds
nest and sing; around it animals live and play. As a matter of
fact a forest springs up around the tree. The tree watches the ever-
changing struggle for existence. Our animals fight and frolic, li^-e
and love. It is one of the strangest places in all the world. For
what a long, long time this splendid big tree, the General Sherman,
has witnessed through the centuries, and let us hope it will still
witness there for centuries yet to come.
There are the higher mountains, and streams and canyons, and
then there are many beautiful lakes in this region. The ice king,
Avho chiseled California on such a magnificent scale, did some of his
NATIONAL PARKS. 13
best and grandest work. He chiseled the canyon, the peaks, the
lakes, and gave to this park region many of its flowing lines and
beauty. Within this proposed park you will find as interesting a
glacier record as you will find any place on earth. As the great John
Muir has pointed out, the Sequoia forests are growing, in those
places which were first laid bare by the ice at the close of the great
ice period. Here in manj^ waj^s you will find an ever-interesting
story of nature in this Sequoia Park.
In the streams you will find fish. Let us remember that in this
region the golden trout originated. Within this park there are the
mountain sheep, there are bear and deer. There are many kinds
of birds, and then, too, there is an exceeding wealth and variety of
wild flowers, and then over all, and ever with it is a climate equal
to any in the world
This region, with its varied beauty and size, is, I believe, the
greatest in all the world. Why it would be a disgrace to civilization,
ladies and gentlemen, if we let it be destroyed. We ought to save
it for our better selves and our greater Nation, and we shall save it.
There used to be a race of people in Africa called the Hottentots.
They have been forgotten. The Hottentots had a strange idea.
They considered that a woman was not beautiful until she had
both cheeks scarred and her front teeth knocked out ! I sometimes
think that pioneer people— not all of them — are so forgetful of the
beauty of their country that they consider it is not beautiful until
it is all scarred and its front teeth knocked out. Many years ago
that genius. Horace Greeley, went West, and he almost typified the
tj^pical pioneer. When he arrived by one of those big trees it did
not seem to appeal to his imagination at all. As a matter of fact,
too often people do not have imagination. But at any rate Horace
Greeley, instead of thinking of the wonders it might look upon and
had looked upon, simply walked up to it. jDulled out a pencil and
paper and figured how much lumber could be obtained from it.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have passed too many milestones to
figure how many feet of lumber may be obtained from one of these
big trees. AVe had just as well think of how many paving stones
could be obtained by tearing down the Congressional Library.
So let us hope and believe from now on we will appreciate the
value of scenery and its benefit to mankind, and that appreciating it
we shall preserve it.
Now, briefly to restate the points that I have tried to make : The
region enlarged would include scenery land; that would be its best
classification. Used scenically, it will give it a v'ery high economig
value, and still higher values which you can not measure by gold.
Within this region are extensive areas of such lands. They will
be lost to the public, I fear, if the region is not made a national park,
14 NATIONAL PARKS.
because California may sell or lease this land to private individuals
and thus cut the park all up, if the making of the national park is
So this in turn urges us forward in making this region a park.
Is there any reasonable objection to making this a national park?
Absolutely none that I know of. So if you are in favor of it I hope
you will tell your children about the Sequoia National Park region.
I hope you will tell your neighbors; I hope you will tell everyone
that one of the great duties of everyone, and it ought to be a pleas-
ure, is to help bring about the creation of the greater Sequoia Na-
tional Park, or, to use the words of John Muir, "national parks
should give glory to the country, and our national parks should
make our country the glory of the w^orld." I thank you.
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