Bryce Canyon
Historic Resource Study
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The Legislative Memorial, directed to Congress by the State of Utah in March 1919, was followed within months by Utah Senator Reed Smoot's legislative attempt to make Bryce Canyon a national park. [182] Senate Bill 3379, "a bill to establish the Utah National Park in the State of Utah," was introduced to the first session of the 66th Congress on November 9, 1919. [183] During the spring of 1920 the Secretary of the Interior, John Barton Payne, was asked to report on the bill, and defined his Department's position as follows:

That this area covered in the pending bill should be at once brought under full national contract and protection is not only desirable but imperative, but it is believed that this should be accomplished by creating it a National Monument by presidential proclamation rather than as a national park. Later on, when investigation of the other areas has been made . . . it will not be difficult to have the entire area created as a national park if Congress so decides. [184]

Smoot, even though Chairman of the Committee on Public Lands, found himself stymied. Later in 1920 Smoot was probably instrumental in soliciting descriptions of Bryce from John A. Widtsoe, President of the University of Utah, and Herbert B. Gregory, Professor of Geology at Yale University. Bryce Canyon itself was given extensive publicity by the National Parks Association. [185] These measures appear to have had a favorable effect on Congress, and Smoot was encouraged enough to introduce Senate Bill 487 to the first session of the 67th Congress on April 12, 1921. [186] Senate Bill 487 was a duplicate of the Utah Parks bill he had introduced some 18 months earlier. Yet, Smoot hoped the new Republican Administration, and the new Secretary of the Interior, Albert B. Fall, would see things differently. Fall reported on Senate Bill 487 in mid-June 1921:

I am informed that there are certain other areas in the general vicinity which probably should be considered for inclusion in a park if one be created, and that the Bureau of Parks proposes to conduct an investigation in the vicinity, probably this year.

I believe it would be well to defer the enactment of the legislation until that investigation is completed. [187]

There was little Smoot could now do but bide his time.

The park proposed by Smoot was comparatively diminutive, comprising no more than 11-5/8 sections of land (7,280 acres). Eight of these lay within the eastern side of the Powell National Forest, [188] and included: (1) Section 31 in T. 36 S., R. 3 W. (S.L.M.); (2) Sections 6, 7, and 8 in T. 37 S., R. 3 W.; (3) Sections 1, 12, and 13 in T. 37 S., R. 4 W.; and (4) the much discussed Section 36 in T. 36., R. 4 W.

Late in 1922 Senator Smoot had apparently given in to the idea that Bryce would have to become a national monument before it became a national park. On December 19, 1922, a meeting was held in Smoot's Washington office. Present were Union Pacific's General Traffic Manager W. A. Basinger, Acting Director Arno B. Cammerer, Assistant Director Horace Albright of the National Park Service, Utah General Land Office Commissioner Spry, Utah Congressman Don Colton, and Mr. Kneipp of the Forest Service. The future status of Bryce Canyon was practically the sole topic of discussion, and two important decisions resulted from the conference. First, Smoot agreed that for the time being the campaign to make Bryce Canyon a national park should be shelved, and instead steps be taken to make it a national monument. Second, the monument would retain the 11-5/8 sections asked for in the proposed national park, with the 3-5/8 sections outside Powell's boundary incorporated into it. Additionally, all present agreed that Bryce Canyon National Monument should be administered by the U. S. Forest Service. [189]

Strong recommendations by the Departments of Interior and Agriculture, and the Institute's high appraisal of Bryce Canyon's geological uniqueness, [190] prompted President Harding to proclaim Bryce Canyon a national monument on June 8, 1923 (Map 3). In order to effect national monument status for the entire 11-5/8 sections, it was necessary to change Powell's boundaries so as to include: (1) all of Section 32 in (2) the W1/2, NE1/4, and W1/2 of the SE1/4 of Section in T. 37 S., R.. 3 W,; (3) the W1/2 and W1/2 of the E1/2 of Section 8 in the same Township as Section 5; and (4) all of Section 17 in the same Township as Sections 5 and 8. T. 36 S., R. 3 W.; Smoot probably acceded to the creation of a national monument only to gain time and strengthen his contention that Bryce Canyon be made a national park. On December 10, 1923, he introduced Senate Bill 668 to the first session of the 68th Congress [191] — a duplicate of his 1919 and 1921 National Park bills. This time Smoot's campaign was abetted by the support of Michigan Congressman Louis B. Cramton, who was the Chairman of the subcommittee for Department of Interior appropriations. Cramton had traveled extensively throughout the High Plateau country during July 1923, [192] and was invited by the American Automobile Association to deliver a broadcast, extolling the wonders of scenic southern Utah. [193]

Cramton did this over the radio in Washington, D. C., on April 17, 1924. The speech was florid but undoubtedly influential. An excerpt follows:

This rapid outline of the other wonders of this region must now suffice while I give my time to Bryce Canyon, so aptly termed by Prof. Frederick Pack of Utah University as Nature's "most delicate jewel."

[. . .]

I want to tell you my impressions of the canyon as from its rim I saw the full succession of its inspiring contrasts, its richly beautiful panorama—by the glare of day, with the passing of the sun, in the dim starlight, at the rising of the moon at midnight, and at the dawning of another day. The ordinary schedule of my waking and sleeping was shattered, but that does not matter if you have but a day at Bryce. The maze of forms and outlines in the canyon gives fancy free rein and you are thrilled not only by what the eye perceives but by what it "half creates" as well, as Wordsworth has it.

Sit with me here near the chasm's brink as the sun drops low. Before your fancy presents to you the city beautiful, the myriad forms left in the disorder of chance after centuries of erosion resolve themselves into something planned . . .. The architecture is all in harmony. Great buildings rising hundreds of feet, passageways, sometimes but a few feet wide, separating one structure from another, but the walls erect and accurate, story upon story. From Acropolis Hill see how the grade drops rapidly to the waterless river bed which is parked so plentifully with trees on either side of the watercourse. Rising then abruptly to the right from the river are vermillion cliffs, where the palace of the king appears, surrounded by great turreted walls, a steep approach leading to the castle itself, nestling close against the barren cliff.

There is no sound; no smoke arises; nothing in motion but the circling cliff swallow. It is simply the ideal of fancy.

The sun has gone. Darkness falls closer and deeper and the fine tracery of the architecture dims from sight, only the lighter shades of some of the buildings holding prominence. Still you can see the great commanding outline of the fortress and in the center the white of the crowning Acropolis. The swallows are no longer flying about . . .. There are no tones, no lights from below; only the splashes of white upon the dark background, set off with darker markings of the tree areas. The city of fancy is asleep.

At midnight we cautiously approach again the rim and watch, while far in the east over Acropolis Hill a glow enriches the horizon. Soon a silver point comes to view, like a star of hope for the darkened city. Rapidly rises the majestic moon that whitens the night and brings out formless shapes of the city but does not lighten. It mounts to the heavens and the city to the west of us reflects it dimly. It is a spectral city, and the watcher under the rays of moon, the million wonders of the Milky Way, and all the stars overhead, comes to imagine an occasional moving in the tenantless homes. But there is nothing in the city but night.

Up again and to the watcher's post; the day is dawning. A rosy hue in the east; an orange glow over Table Cliff Plateau; to the right a group of clouds which simulate a snowclad range of peaks for a time and then revert to cloud banks, reflecting rosy tints, as mounts the orb of day.

[. . .]

Before you now in glare of day is a prehistoric city of Babylonish splendor. It seems to have been covered with the sands of ages and appears now as if largely revealed by recent excavations still to be completed, banks of earth still in part enshrouding edifices and walls the impression mounting that further beauties are yet to be revealed.

Far in the east you see the modern Utah town of Tropic, surrounded by its fertile green fields, a touch of reality to bring fancy back to earth. But the spell of Bryce Canyon hangs long in your memory. [194]

Cramton's mellifluous tongue certainly did nothing to prejudice Smoot's cause. However, it was not until June 7, 1924, that Public Law No. 227 of the 68th Congress established the "Utah National Park." Smoot's immediate reaction to the bill's passage is not known, but he could not have been completely happy with it. The law's key provision stipulated that the Utah National Park, encompassing the same tracts of land as Bryce Canyon National Monument occupied, would not be made a national park until all "land within the exterior boundaries of the aforesaid tract shall first become the property of the United States." [195]


Unanimous agreement that Bryce Canyon National Monument should be administered by the Forest Service was based on the monument's contiguity to Powell National Forest. Thus, in theory, the monument's supervision would be nothing more than an extension of supervision for Powell National Forest. That the Forest Service exercised its administrative responsibility for Bryce Canyon with a light hand is borne out by available facts. During the 1927 tourist season, the monument was supervised by "Forest Service Ranger" V. O. Brown. Actually, Ranger Brown was employed jointly by Garfield County, the Forest Service, and the Utah Parks Company—but received his salary exclusively from the latter. Brown remained in Bryce Canyon from June 1 to November 1. He took care of the automobile campground, gave out information to campers and Utah Parks Company tourists, and guided visitors on trail trips. In September 1927 visiting National Park Service personnel got the distinct impression Brown earned most of his compensation from tips. [196]

Brown's situation is instructive, because it shows the Forest Service followed its principle of spending money for physical improvement rather than administration. [197] In fact, the key contribution made by the Service to the monument's development had to do with roads. As early as 1923 the Forest Service cooperated with the State Highway Commission to make Bryce Canyon more accessible to the public. Funds allotted for the general development of National Forests were used to improve the Panguitch-Tropic road via Red Canyon, and the Bryce Canyon road from what is now Ruby's Inn to the SE1/4 of Section 36 in the monument. A total of $123,000 was appropriated for the Panguitch-Tropic project, of which $6,300 had been spent by July 1, 1923. Similarly, of $22,300 set aside for the Bryce road, $1,600 was spent by the end of fiscal year 1922. [198] In 1927, the monument road was described as having been constructed according to the standards of the Bureau of Public Roads. At the time the Forest Service proposed to extend this road some 4 miles southeast, toward Bryce Point. [199]

Forest Service expenses for the monument itself were comparatively small. For example, during fiscal year 1923 only $500 was allotted for administration. [200] In 1927 not more than $100 was spent on maintenance and improvements. [201] Between 1923-28, then, the Forest Service essentially did the following: First, and most importantly, it provided a good road into the monument, and a fair weather road as far as Bryce Point; Second, the automobile campground was maintained at no more than adequate standards. In the 1927 season, 16 tables, 12 garbage cans, and 5 toilets—3 for men and 2 for women—had to suffice for 150 to 200 automobiles, each carrying an average of 4 people; [202] Third, several miles of foot and horse trails were constructed and kept up between what is now Sunrise Point and Bryce Point; Fourth, a "ranger" was kept on duty during the clement months to give tourists general information, and to accompany groups on trail trips.

Between 1923-28 no accurate record was maintained on visitation statistics. V. O. Brown estimated that 4,200 cars would enter the monument during the 1927 season. Of these approximately 60 percent used the campground—the remainder the lodge. Averaging four to a car, then, some 16,800 people entered the monument by automobile, and another 8,000 by Utah Parks Company vehicles, for a rough total of 25,000. [203] In subsequent years, this ratio of 2:1—between tourists who came in by private automobile and the carriage trade—was to dramatically increase in favor of the former.


Absence of Contractual Agreements

As explained in "Incorporation of Utah Parks Company," it was because of National Park Service Director Mather's unwillingness to grant a railroad company concessions in Zion that the Union Pacific found it necessary to secure these in the name of a subsidiary—the Utah Parks Company. Accordingly, the Utah Parks Company's authorization to operate at Zion was based on a contract between the Utah Parks Company and the National Park Service, dated June 9, 1923. A near-duplicate contract was effected between the same parties for operations at the North Rim on November 10, 1927. Transportation rights exercised by the Utah Parks Company in Zion and the North Rim were obtained from the Parry brothers. The situation encountered by the Utah Parks Company at Bryce Canyon was somewhat different. Since the Forest Service exercised administration over the national monument from 1923-28, the Utah Parks Company temporarily had no need of a formal concessions agreement.

Initial Construction Phase at Bryce Canyon

The first cost estimate for Bryce Canyon Lodge was given to Union Pacific Chairman Lovett by President Gray in a letter dated August 14, 1922. At this time Gray said 100-room structures at Bryce Canyon and Zion would cost from $150,000 to $175,000 each. [204] The following April, Gray revised this figure to $315,000 for a 75-room lodge at Bryce Canyon, and $335,000 for the same type of structure at Zion. [205] Lovett, upon receipt of these escalated estimates, became irritated. In his telegram to Gray, dated October 5, 1923, he asked Union Pacific's President to clarify the issue at once. [206] The following day, in a letter to Lovett, Gray admitted embarrassment for the earlier estimate—a figure given before there was an opportunity for detailed investigation. Subsequent consultations with architectural and construction personnel convinced Gray that he had badly underestimated the problems posed by Bryce Canyon's remote location, scarcity of usable timber and the severely limited labor pool in the Bryce Canyon's environs. [207]

Construction of the lodge began on a site approximately 4,000 feet south of the monument's north boundary, and 700 feet from the Canyon's rim. This spot was probably chosen by Underwood, Lancaster, Jones, and Hull during their reconnaissance of the area in the first week of May 1923. [208] Architect Underwood's later plans for Utah Parks Company buildings were approved by National Park Service Landscape Architect Hull, Superintendent E. T. Scoyen of Zion, and National Park Service Director Mather. [209] Foundation work and skeletal construction was probably completed during the working season of 1924. Both Melford Ahlstrom and Harmon Shakespeare, local residents who assisted in the lodge's construction, affirm that no unusual problems or delays occurred. [210]

In the original main building, finished by May 1925, there was an office and lobby, a dining room, kitchen, and showers and toilets for both sexes. The entire second floor was taken up by sleeping accommodations for overnight guests.

It is not known exactly when the main building's rock facade was applied, but it was definitely in place prior to September 1927. [211] Underwood's drawings for the wings are dated February 19, 1926, with revisions made on May 16. It must be assumed the wings were added during the working season of that year. Underwood's sketches for the wings show the rock facade, so it may have been added to the entire building during the clement months of 1926. There is no evidence to indicate precisely why the Utah Parks Company added the wings when it did, but the company's principal motive obviously stemmed from a desire to quickly increase the number of sleeping accommodations. A curio store occupied the lower level of the south wing. The addition of a Recreation Hall in 1927 rounded out the lodge's final configuration.

By September 1927 no fewer than 67 standard and economy cabins were grouped about the lodge. Construction on these had begun during 1925. Concrete walks connected all cabins to the lodge. For the sake of esthetics, electrical wiring was placed in underground conduits. [212] Furnishings for standard cabins were surprisingly similar to those for deluxe cabins.

In September 1927 only 5 deluxe cabins were in existence, and 10 more augmented the lodge complex in 1929. Construction techniques at Bryce Canyon appear to have followed closely those used for the deluxe cabins at North Rim 2 years earlier. Lodge poles presented a particular problem for the deluxe cabins at Bryce Canyon, since each had to be 49 feet 10 inches long and 10 inches through the tip. The Utah Parks Company wanted nearly 100 of these and according to Harmon Shakespeare, Supervisory Forest Service Ranger Wallace Riddle was particularly cooperative allowing Shakespeare to "mark" those trees most suitable for the poles. [213] Concrete walks also connected the deluxe cabins to the lodge. As the illustrations make clear, the Utah Parks Company used a consistent motif for both the standard and deluxe cabins.

Service structures, including a garage, were begun in 1925. The most significant of these are included in the architectural data section. By the fall of 1927 water used by the complex was pumped from the springs at East Creek. Only an "infinitesimal" amount was obtainable from those located on White Man's Bench. [214] As early as 1927 it was apparent that the water supply at Bryce Canyon presented long-range problems. Sewage from the lodge complex was carried in a 6-inch pipe to a treatment plant approximately 1/2-mile north of the lodge building, and 500 feet west of the main road. Effluent first flowed into a septic tank, and was then sterilized with chlorine. Telephone service between Bryce Lodge and Cedar City was established by the fall of 1927. Apparently, the line provided excellent long distance capability. [215]

A bill of sale between the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad Company and the Utah Parks Company on September 10, 1928, is an excellent document for ascertaining how much property the Union Pacific System owned. Just prior to Bryce Canyon's national park status it owned:

1 Main pavilion (frame), 41'6" x 130'4", with extensions,
     North wing, 43'6" x 31'
     South wing, 53'10" x 31'
     West wing, 77'4" x 112'
18Guest cabins (frame), 12' x 24'
63Guest cabins (frame), 12' x 26'4"
5Deluxe cabins (stone and log), 16'4" x 40'
4Tent cabins, 12' x 14'
1Oil sales cabin (frame), 10' x 12'
2Comfort stations (frame), 16' x 30'
ILaundry (frame), 14' x 16'
1Employees' pavilion (frame), 21' x 53'
1Power house (Corr. Galv. Iron), 24' x 42'
2Toilets (frame), 6' x 6'
1Chlorine house (frame), 6' x 8'
1Septic tank (concrete), 7' x 9' x 26'10"
2Filter trench (concrete), 197' x 8'4"
1Filter trench (stone), 191' x 9'
2Garage (Corr. Galv. Iron), 24' x 92' with 2 wings each 24' x 146'
6Drivers' quarters (frame), 16' x 20'
1Lumber tent, 8' x 10'
1Tent, 8' x 10'
1D.C. & II. building (frame), 12'4" x 40'2"
1D.C. & H. building (frame), 21' x 73'
1D.C. & H. building (frame), 8' x 8'
2Toilets (frame), 4' x 6'
1Bunkhouse (frame), 14' x 14'
2Bunkhouse (frame), 12' x 12'
6Bunkhouse (frame), 16' x 20'
1Material shed, 14' x 15'
1Lattice fence, 8' x 118'
1Open air fireplace, 18' diam.
     6" pipeline from Shaker Springs (portion in Bryce Canyon National Park, only)
1Concrete reservoir, 26'9" x 48'4"
1Automobile barrier
1Underground gasoline storage tank
2Observation platforms

Concrete paths and steps

Roads and trails

Lighting system

Water supply system

Sewer system

Fence around 373 acres in Section 35, Township 36 South, Range 4 West

D.C. & H. equipment in cabins and pavilions

Telephone line, 2.765 miles

Power plant

Powerline. [216]

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Last Updated: 25-Aug-2004