Casa Grande Ruins
Administrative History
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A. The Transfer to the National Park Service

Despite the fact that the Casa Grande reservation technically remained under the General Land Office after the creation of the National Park Service in 1916, the latter bureau soon became more involved in its administration. This development was welcomed by the General Land Office leadership because it had never felt comfortable managing this prehistoric resource. Except for a brief period from 1902 to 1907, General Land Office commissioners had either tried to deny that the bureau managed the reservation (mid-1890s) or they chose to ignore it (1908-16). Consequently, in the latter part of 1916, the GLO chief clerk began the process by which Casa Grande would be designated a national monument, so that it could be transferred to the National Park Service. This procedure included having the custodian report directly to the secretary of the interior and not to the General Land Office starting in 1917. By the end of that year the secretary of the interior had given the National Park Service jurisdiction over the Casa Grande reservation, even though it legally still belonged to the General Land Office. Under that circumstance, the National Park Service Director, Stephen T. Mather, began a search for a competent custodian. [1]

On January 16, 1918, Mather contacted Frank Pinkley to determine if he would be interested in returning to his old job. To make the position more attractive, Mather wrote that Pinkley would be allowed to operate a concession to add to his income. The salary offer of $900 was the same as he had received each year from 1901-15. Pinkley replied that he did not believe that a custodian should become involved with concession management. He felt that a custodian's efforts should be directed toward resource protection and creating a learning situation through visitor instruction and publicity. If he were to return to Casa Grande, Pinkley told Mather that he would need an automobile although he offered to pay for the gasoline as a means to discourage the vehicle's overuse. After considering the matter, Pinkley wrote to Mather on March 4 that he would accept the job. He announced that his custodianship would be built on the foundation of protection, development, and publicity. In a reply dated March 16, 1918, Mather authorized his appointment as custodian, although control of the Casa Grande reservation still officially came under the General Land Office. [2]

By the time that Pinkley arrived at Casa Grande on April 1, 1918, he had already begun to exercise his authority. Based upon his previous experience at Casa Grande, he began to implement an immediate course of action. Within days of his appointment, Pinkley's first activity was to contract for the erection of a thirty-five-foot-high galvanized-iron flag pole on the reservation. He also contacted Professor Byron Cummings of the University of Arizona Anthropology Department and the State Historian T. E. Farrish who agreed to write pamphlets on the archeology and history of Casa Grande when funds became available. Pinkley began to gather books for a library. He met with the chambers of commerce of the towns of Casa Grande and Tucson and received a pledge from those groups to build a restroom on the reservation. The head of the state news agency agreed to publish stories on the ruins. As for future activities, Pinkley told Mather that he needed road signs and general National Park Service literature for visitors. He hoped to approach the United States Geological Survey to do a topographic survey on one-foot contours for the entire reservation to aid future development. Finally, Pinkley requested that Mather ask the Bureau of Ethnology to investigate a means to harden the ruins walls. He had previously thought of spraying the walls with silicate of soda, but evidently had changed his mind. [3]

Soon Pinkley had his enthusiasm dampened by the reluctance of the National Park Service Washington, D.C. office to champion the cause of his operational needs. Although he quickly received the general information literature on the National Park Service, Pinkley almost as quickly got a letter from Mather's assistant Horace Albright. He learned from this June 7 communication that neither the National Park Service nor the General Land Office intended to offer any present support. Albright attempted to attribute the lack of aid to the fact that, even if the National Park Service had any funds, it would not use any money for improvements on property legally controlled by the General Land Office. Albright observed that, if Casa Grande were to be designated a national monument, then it could be brought into the national park system. Undoubtedly hopeful of a brighter future, Pinkley readily agreed to a change in the ruin's status. [4]

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Last Updated: 22-Jan-2002