Bryce Canyon
Historic Resource Study
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Early in July 1927 discussions took place at the Canyon Hotel in Yellowstone Park between Union Pacific's President Gray and National Park Service Field Director Horace Albright. [217] Their subject was the means by which Bryce Canyon could achieve national park status. National Park Service Director Mather had given Albright full authority to conduct negotiations with Gray, and Gray made it clear to Albright the Union Pacific was vitally interested in immediate action. Omaha had developed deep concern over the deplorable condition of roads in northwestern Arizona, and was reluctant to go forward with its plans for the development of the North Rim until transportation was made more efficient to and from it. [218]

Basically, what came out of the discussions between Gray and Albright was an exchange proposal by Gray. Omaha wanted the Zion-Mt. Carmel road, and specifically wanted the National Park Service to authorize that portion of it within Zion to be completed within 2 years. In return the railroad agreed to deed the 11.69 acres owned by them at Bryce Canyon to the Federal Government. Additionally, Omaha consented to the transfer by the State of Utah to the Federal Government the balance of Section 36, upon which the railroad had a long-term lease. In order to operate at Bryce under National Park Service administration, the Union Pacific wanted a concessions agreement duplicating privileges it received at Zion by virtue of the June 9, 1923, contract.

Gray readily apprehended the fact that no one individual could conclude an agreement binding the Federal Government, so he suggested placing the deed of land in escrow until the conditions asked for by the railroad were fulfilled. [219] Union Pacific's Finance Committee in New York approved the escrow agreement on July 26, 1927. [220] Necessary papers were actually placed under deed to the Federal Government in Walker Brothers Bank of Salt Lake City on August 12, 1927. [221]

Gray and Albright well knew that Congressman Cramton of Michigan was the only individual who alone could block the achievement of national park status for Bryce Canyon. Cramton simply would not permit Congressional appropriations to the Interior Department for the Zion-Mt. Carmel road until terms creating "Utah National Park" had been met. [222] As early as July 5, 1927, Acting National Park Service Director Arno B. Cammerer was careful to tip-off Cramton that negotiations between the Union Pacific and Park Service were proceeding satisfactorily with respect to Bryce. [223] On July 22, 1927, Cramton responded to Cammerer as follows:

I have your letter of July 5 with enclosures mentioned concerning the Utah National Park, etc. I am delighted to know of the very encouraging prospect for the clearing up of the Utah National Park situation. If that is cleared up satisfactory [sic] and in time, I see no reason why the road construction work in Zion should not be pushed as fast as Mr. Mather desires. [224]

Thereafter, Cramton, with the aid of Utah Senator Smoot and Utah's Congressmen, began to push for legislation creating Bryce Canyon.

Cramton's reply to Cammerer says much for the Park Service's attitude toward the Bryce Canyon negotiations. There was, in fact, whole-hearted agreement with Union Pacific's proposal. Nevertheless, the Service faced an immediate problem of substantial proportions: financing the Zion-Mt. Carmel road within Zion. By the middle of July 1927 plans for sections 1 and 2 of the tunnel were available through Assistant Chief Hewes of the Federal Bureau of Public Roads. [225] Estimates for the work approximated $700,000, and it was this figure the Park Service had to make quickly available.

Exactly $450,000 was already in the Zion allotment, so Cammerer began to assiduously seek funds that could be transferred from appropriations granted other parks. This was done in the following way:

Glacier$ 9,000
(saving on contract for Babb-Many Glacier project)
Grand Canyon50,000
(saving on contract for North Rim project)
Mesa Verde50,000
Mount Ranier70,000
(saving on contract for Nisqually-Paradise project)
(paving of Yosemite Village plaza deferred)

Finishing the road within Zion would cost an additional $740,000, but Cramton could be counted on to secure these funds in appropriations for the next fiscal year. At a major conference in Salt Lake City on July 20, 1927, attended by representatives of the three principal parties, Henry H. Blood of the Utah State Road Commission assured the National Park Service that Utah would have its 16-1/2 mile section between Zion and Mt. Carmel constructed at the same time the Service finished its section. [227]

The State of Utah's most critical role in the Bryce Canyon project, however, hinged on its willingness to relinquish the lion's share of Section 36. This the State was willing to do, as Governor Dern made clear to Congressman Cramton on July 20, 1927:

I am pleased to inform you that the State Land Board had a meeting today and . . . you are hereby advised that the State of Utah will exchange the school section in question for some other section of land in order that Bryce Canyon may be made a national park . . . [227]

Dern had another reason for writing Cramton. Salt Lake City was not happy with the condition in the June 7, 1924, law renaming Bryce "Utah National Park." Dern thus put forward three sound arguments for scrapping the name. First, Bryce Canyon had already received extensive advertising during its national monument status by the Union Pacific. Changing its name would do much to negate the railroad's expense and effort. Second, the name Utah National Park had no local significance. It could have been used for any other scenic attraction in the State. Third, the title implied Utah had but one national park, and Bryce would in fact be the second. Dern urged that the 1924 law be amended to read "Bryce Canyon National Park." [229] Accordingly, Senate Bill 1312, introduced to the first session of the 70th Congress by Senator Smoot was titled a bill "To change the name of the Utah National Park . . . to the 'Bryce Canyon National Park,' and for other purposes." [230] By "other purposes" Smoot meant the acquisition of additional land.

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Last Updated: 25-Aug-2004