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Chapter 9:
National Park Service Management and Development, 1924-1942

Overview of National Parks in Idaho

In the middle nineteenth century, thoughtful Americans embraced the West's monumental scenery as proof of their nation's greatness. The region's ancient trees, time-worn canyons, and magnificent peaks surpassed Europe's cultural antiquities, renowned landscapes, and architectural masterpieces, and in turn provided Americans the cultural artifacts and identity they desired but their young nation seemed to lack. 'The agelessness of monumental scenery instead of the past accomplishments of Western Civilization," as historian Alfred Runte suggests, "was to become the visible symbol of continuity and stability in the new nation." Thus, out of a belief that the most renowned wonderlands should be set aside as symbols of national pride, and later as areas for public recreation, the national park idea was born. [1]

By the turn of the century, preservationists could point with pride to their accomplishments, for large tracts of the western landscape were protected as national parks. Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia, and Mount Rainier had all been created before 1900. Over the next twenty years they were joined by other acclaimed national treasures such as Crater Lake, Mesa Verde, Glacier, Rocky Mountain, and Grand Canyon. None of these parks, however, lay within Idaho. The state's eastern boundary embraced a slim section of Yellowstone, but more by chance than design. To this day Idaho is the only western state without a national park, though it was the first state in the Pacific Northwest to establish a state park. [2]

Idahoans did not find themselves in this position for a lack of trying. As early as 1898, concerned citizens proposed setting aside Shoshone Falls as a national park in order to protect it from being submerged beneath a reservoir. The proposal, however, failed before the more influential waterpower and irrigation interests. This materialistic intent was one of the overriding arguments park opponents employed during the early period of park building throughout the country (the years after Yellowstone's creation in 1872 and the creation of the National Park Service in 1916). Nevertheless, mounting urban pressures by the first of the twentieth century led larger numbers of Idahoans and other citizens of the Pacific Northwest to seek relief in the outdoors. And the more people spent time in the outdoors, the more they realized the dangers to its natural beauty. Irrigation projects, truck logging, and the birth of the automobile age, all seemed to threaten Idaho's scenery and stimulated calls for its protection. [3]

In 1908, Senator Weldon Heyburn proposed setting aside Lake Chatcolet as a national park. A popular vacation spot, the lake was located in the Coeur d'Alene country of Idaho's panhandle, but according to historian Thomas R. Cox, Heyburn's proposal was never clear about what kind of "national" park he had in mind. In fairness to Heyburn, there was no general understanding of park standards or the purpose of parks at the time; some thought of parks as preserves of nature's monuments, and others thought of them as places for outdoor recreation. Judging from the panhandle's popularity as a vacation place, it appears that the senator envisioned something similar to the latter--a genteel summer retreat and beach resort common at the turn of the century. Thus, his park proposal had less to do with preserving natural curiosities and more to do with local boosterism and an interest in national park tourism for the local economy. Perhaps because Congress saw Heyburn's proposal as just "another national- park proposition," it refused to create a national park. But all was not lost. In 1911, the proposed area became Heyburn State Park, Idaho's first. [4]

The creation of Heyburn State Park in no way constituted a park movement in the Gem State, Cox asserts. Idaho officials showed little concern for creating state parks or improving those that came under their jurisdiction over the next several decades. At least two general reasons, more common to the Rocky Mountain states than those of the Pacific Northwest, were responsible for this lack of interest. First, many in Idaho distrusted any infringements on states' rights. Heyburn himself was the most identifiable exponent of this view; he especially disliked the Unites States Forest Service, its leader Gifford Pinchot, and "all kinds of conservation and conservationists." More than national forests, parks wrongly excluded public lands from development. Second, at the time no dedicated, dynamic, or authoritative leader stepped forward as an advocate for parks. The closest Idaho came was Heyburn who died in 1912. [5]

A lack of interest and leadership, as well as strong political challenges from resource users, characterized efforts to create a national park in Idaho. The most notable example was the attempt to create a Sawtooth national park. The first proposal appeared in 1911 when Idaho clubwomen advanced the idea. Boise's Jean Conly Smith led the movement, which soon won the endorsement of women's clubs across Idaho, the "See Idaho First" association, and such well-known park proponents as Enos Mills. Mills described the Sawtooths as mountains of "Alpine grandeur and wild magnificence." According to Mills, the Sawtooths met all the requirements for a national park, for they contained towering peaks, sparkling lakes with forested shorelines, thundering waterfalls, beautiful streams, and upland meadows. For her part, Smith believed that establishing a Sawtooth national park was important because Idaho was the only western state without one. Its scenic beauty far surpassed that of other western states, and the creation of a park would go far to bring Idaho the recognition it deserved. To this end, she claimed that except for glaciers Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains compared well to the Alps and would certainly attract tourists after some development. By describing the Sawtooths in this way, Smith and other park supporters emphasized the range's spectacular features, and at the same time declared the region economically worthless. Their arguments, typical of park proposals which attested to an area's beauty and lack of material value, eventually gained ground. Bills were introduced into Congress, and supported by Representative Addison T. Smith and Senator William E. Borah, but nothing ever came of them. [6]

Although no full-length study of the Sawtooth campaign has been written, it seems likely that the state's resource users exerted enough influence to derail the movement. One outspoken critic was Thomas C. Stanford, a sheepman from Carey, who fought the proposal for at least two decades. As he stated in the early 1920s:

The creation of such a National Park would not add one speck to the beauty of nature's work, but it would not only deprive the freedom loving people of the right of having some liberties in the mountains, that we do not enjoy in the Yellowstone Park, but it would close the gates tight against hundreds of thousands of livestock and prove a ruinous liability, instead of an asset to Idaho. [7]

The influence of resource users like Stanford seemed to carry some weight, at least in the case of Addison T. Smith. Stanford corresponded with Smith throughout the representative's long career and remained vigilant in his opposition to creating a park in the Sawtooths. Eventually, it seems, Smith changed his earlier position on the park bill and saw the issue from Stanford's perspective. He represented agricultural communities in arid southern Idaho, and in 1920 introduced legislation for an irrigation project that would have flooded the southwestern corner of Yellowstone National Park. [8] Smith's actions most likely were the product of political expedience. He enjoyed the wealth of scenery his state offered, and years later told Stanford how he resolved the park question in his mind:

As you know, I am opposed to creating a national park in Idaho, believing that if we have good roads to these natural and scenic sections, which are generally in the national forests, there would be no advantage to the people to have their jurisdiction placed under the National Park bureau. [9]

The Sawtooth park proposal also suffered when it lost its most visible leader. Jean Conly Smith moved from Boise in 1913 and soon afterward the movement languished in the face of opposition from resource users. After the National Park Service was established in 1916, however, her work was revitalized and seemed on the verge of success in the hands of the agency's dynamic new director, Stephen T. Mather. Mather created park standards to evaluate the worth of the numerous park proposals inundating his bureau, including those for the Sawtooths. As Mather's biographer said, he wanted national parks to be "large enough, primitive enough, and/or unique enough to be national in interest." The Sawtooths' alpine wilderness clearly met these new standards, but Mather abandoned the Sawtooth park proposition because it was too volatile an issue and would require "too much [political] battling." [10]

If establishing a national park in Idaho required doing "battle," the same could not be said for a national monument. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge set aside Craters of the Moon National Monument, a boundless, blackened sea of lava containing some of the world's best examples of basaltic volcanism, covering some 54,000 acres. Compared to Idaho's hapless park movement, Craters of the Moon's creation seems to be a consolation prize. The second cousins of national parks, monuments were often of a singular importance, protecting specific natural or cultural sites of scientific or historical value within a small area. They hardly compared to the magnificent nature reserves of Yellowstone or Glacier, and thus they could promise only a fraction of the tourist revenues and prestige of parks. From a legislative perspective, their creation was simple. By virtue of the Antiquities Act, the president could create a monument by the stroke of his pen, whereas the creation of a national park required an act of Congress. This meant that there were more monuments than parks, which seemed to dilute their significance. [11]

The monument's creation, however, should not be viewed as a simple case of settling for second best. Its creation resulted from changing perceptions about the value of the lava country. That change was largely a twentieth-century phenomenon. The volcanic territory presented a foreign and forbidding landscape to nineteenth-century observers. The Craters country failed to conform to their image of natural beauty, as the Sawtooths did, and it presented a real threat to their very existence. At the turn of the century, this volcanic landscape overcame its negative perception for reasons connected to the national park movement: anxiety over the loss of the frontier and the appreciation an urban-industrial society expressed for what wild lands remained. The work of able geologists also aided in this transformation. They praised Craters of the Moon's scientific importance, and their studies of the region gave ordinary Americans the ability to appreciate this chaos of lava. [12]

By the early 1920s, Craters of the Moon was no longer a place to cross and survive; it was a place to be pondered and prized. Boosters hailed its scenic importance. And automobiles ushered in the age of auto tourism, and remote districts like the Craters country became scenic districts, magnets for tourists criss-crossing the West. In the end, the establishment of Craters of the Moon succeeded where attempts to create national parks had failed. Its resources were never seen as valuable and so their removal from the public domain did not infringe on individual rights. In addition to being economically worthless, Craters of the Moon benefited from wide public support, notably the nearby community of Arco, and the dynamic leadership of Robert W. Limbert. The monument's establishment cast a positive rather than negative image; it ran relatively free of opposition, and even won the support of political officials like Addison Smith. Viewed in this light, the language of the monument's proclamation seems all the more significant. It stated that Craters of the Moon's general purpose was to preserve an area of unusual scientific and educational value and general interest. The area ''contains a remarkable fissure eruption" along with its associated volcanic flows and formations and "has a weird and scenic landscape peculiar to itself." Preserving the weird and the beautiful, Craters of the Moon may not have showcased Idaho's "true" scenic wonders, but it nevertheless accorded the state a national distinction. [13]

National Park Service Management and Development at Craters of the Moon National Monument, 1924-1942

On May 2, 1924 Calvin Coolidge signed a proclamation creating Craters of the Moon National Monument, the thirtieth national monument in the park system and the first national park site in Idaho. The executive decree launched the monument's management by the National Park Service. For almost forty years, the agency developed the monument based on its dual mission to enhance the visitor experience and preserve its resources for the enjoyment of future generations. Much of this development reflected the agency's belief, at least in its founding years, that to gain public support for its mission, it needed to encourage tourism. In doing so, the Park Service welcomed automobiles, and developed roads, campgrounds, and hotels. This approach enabled more Americans to enjoy their nation's natural treasures, and visitation soared. The agency's leaders, however, never intended to grid the parks with roads and mar the landscape with subdivisions. Rather, they sought to make the most spectacular sites accessible to tourists and to concentrate other developments in a central location, thereby leaving the majority of park lands as wilderness. To preserve the beauty of the natural environment and at the same time introduce man-made structures, the Park Service followed a landscape design philosophy known as NPS Rustic. At its heart, the Rustic style harmonized functional architecture and other man-made features with natural environments in a visually pleasing and non-intrusive manner. Shaped in the Park Service's first years of existence, the design philosophy of National Park Service (NPS) Rustic was carried out faithfully in the nation's parks until the early 1940s. [14]

In the decades after World War II, the Park Service's design philosophy changed. During the war, many national park facilities fell into disrepair as a result of low wartime appropriations, and the "modernizing" program created to rectify these problems, known as Mission 66, further altered the "rustic" look of parks throughout the system. Initiated to offset the damaging effects of park overcrowding and to shore up park physical plants in the mid-1950s, Mission 66 ran a ten-year course during which more than a billion dollars was spent upgrading all park areas, some for the first time, primarily in the repair and construction of thousands of miles of roads, campgrounds, employee housing, and sanitation systems. Among the program's innovations was the visitor center, a structure incorporating interpretive facilities and administrative offices, and in some instances concession services and auditoriums. [15]

At Craters of the Moon, the Park Service developed the facilities necessary for visitor use and the monument's administration between 1924 and the late 1950s. Undergoing three phases of development during these years, the monument reflected general trends in the agency's landscape design philosophy. Most of the work concentrated on the construction of three headquarters sites and therefore constituted three historic eras. The first phase, 1924-1927, saw only limited improvements as the monument struggled through its first years of management; the second phase, 1927 to World War II, saw a more formal development of the monument in the rustic idiom with structures--for both tourists and management--and an expanded physical plant; and the third phase, from the late 1950s to the early 1960s, saw a complete renovation with the Mission 66 program, which created the "new" look of today's monument.

The National Park Service's guiding philosophy for the development of the monument during its first years of existence was espoused by Assistant Director Horace M. Albright, who believed that "Craters of the Moon Monument will become a very great tourist attraction." For this reason the agency set out, as it did throughout the park system, to encourage tourism by developing roads, campgrounds, and lodgings, as well as to aid in management by developing administrative facilities for monument personnel. Overall, Albright and his colleagues envisioned Craters of the Moon as a "wayside" for travelers to Yellowstone National Park. Providing "sanitary conveniences" for those tourists would in turn, according to their reasoning, increase the isolated young monument's popularity. Only a small staff and minor improvements were required for this service and for the monument's protection. At best, though, improvements were slow in coming, and years passed before the monument was allocated funds to meet its minimum needs, a plight common to monuments--the "second-class sites"--of the young national park system. Agency leaders placed what limited funds Congress allocated into programs to improve national parks, the system's premier sites, earmarking what was left for the monuments. [16]

Much of the early development fell on the shoulders of Craters of the Moon's first custodian, Samuel A. Paisley. Hired in 1925, Paisley did not inherit any structures, it seems, only a primitive road and common-use trails. (Some scattered references note a deteriorated cabin of sorts near Devil's Orchard, possibly a registration booth erected by boosters prior to the monument's establishment, as well as the "famous bear trap" placed near the entrance.) That year Paisley selected the first headquarters site, known as Cinderhurst Camp, in the saddle between Paisley and North Crater cones. He chose this location because it was near the monument road (or auto trail) and Registration Waterhole, one of the few sources of water in the monument that was convenient and plentiful for early visitors who "roughed it" in the parched desert environment.

Lacking a construction budget, he erected, mostly at his own expense, a tiny wood-frame cabin near the crest of the saddle, at the foot of some aa lava. The cabin functioned as office, residence, registration booth, and interpretive center. In front of the structure, for example, the custodian later erected a wood case filled with lava specimens that served as the monument's first museum display. By 1927, Paisley constructed a small, wood-frame registration booth near the cabin and across the way two wood-frame pit toilets sheltered by limber pines. Nestled in "a hillside cove," the site supported a scattering of limber pine for shade and enough level ground for ten to fifteen auto campsites. Perhaps the site's most distinguishing feature was its wooden flagpole, official symbol of government management and point of reference in the undulating topography of the volcanic landscape. The headquarters was also identified, to a lesser degree, by a General Land Office survey marker from 1917, a two-foot pipe just west of the flagpole, imprinted with the site's elevation of 5,900 feet and its township and range (T. 2 N., R. 24 E.). The headquarters area was also memorable for its vista. As visiting Landscape Architect E.A. Davidson commented, the headquarters camp offered "a fine view of the north extremity of the lava flows....Looking over this dark lava 'sea' many will be struck with an unforgettable sense of utter desolation, waste, and space. Indeed this feeling, and sense of relative human insignificance, is perhaps the keynote of character of the Monument." [17]

To see the monument more closely required a road and trail system. Unlike buildings, there were some improvements in this area when the monument was established. By the early 1920s Arco and Hailey residents, among others, had improved the state highway traversing the northern margin of the lava fields and in 1922 developed two entrances, or the "craters cutoffs." The east, or Arco, entrance looped around the eastern base of Sunset Ridge, and the west, or Hailey, entrance crossed the North Crater Lava Flow near the present campground. Both joined approximately where today's entrance road meets the loop drive. [18]

The construction of the cutoffs demonstrated the importance local residents placed on good roads to attract auto tourists to the Craters country. For similar reasons boosters established the loop drive. "Sunday Rock Pickers," as they were known from neighboring communities, constructed a road beginning near Martin and extending south into the monument through the eastern entrance. From there the rough road--or "trail"-- led south; winding along the edge of the lava flows and hugging the base of cinder cones, it crossed the North Crater Flow to the first headquarters, around Paisley Cone and on to Devil's Orchard. There it branched, one section heading toward the Caves Area and the other to Big Craters. [19] Conforming to natural features, the curvilinear road followed, more by accident than design, the Park Service's philosophy of harmonizing roads with park landscapes.

For this reason, it seems, the Park Service would change little in the road's design in the 1920s and subsequent years. In his 1925 inspection report of the monument, Albright proposed spending up to $50,000 on road improvements over five years, but only a few hundred dollars were budgeted for road work during these years. Even so, Paisley continued to work on his own. He improved the monument entrance and constructed "fairly good the extinct craters" and, it seems, advanced the route of the loop drive around the southern side of Inferno Cone from Big Craters to Devil's Orchard by 1926. [20]

During these first years of management, the Park Service also toyed with the idea of extending the monument's road system down the Great Rift to expose auto tourists to as many of the monument's wonders as possible, and to attract more Yellowstone-bound tourists. In his 1925 report, for instance, Albright proposed building a road to the southern end of the monument to connect with a highway that was to run north from Minidoka, Minidoka, along with other communities such as Rupert and Kimama, had been lobbying for the highway for several years. Their wishes seemed on the verge of reality in 1926 when the Bureau of Public Roads recommended the extension of the monument road as far south as Sheep Trail Butte, but limited appropriations shelved the project for the time being. [21]

Trail construction followed an even more informal pattern in these initial stages of management, especially since driving was such a main component of the tourist's experience. Prior to the monument's establishment, Paisley and other local explorers marked popular features and located the way to them by cairns and signs, for which the physical evidence seems to have all but vanished. As custodian, Paisley continued this practice by constructing paths out to caves, such as Indian Tunnel, Beauty and Surprise, as well as to waterholes. Tourists, however, still found it difficult to locate these features in the maze of lava flows. [22]

In the late 1920s the Park Service formalized comprehensive planning for the national parks with master plans which were tailored to meet the needs of each one. The effects of these planning efforts were readily seen in the monument's development for both visitor use and management. Early in the summer of 1927, Civil Engineer Bert H. Burrell and Landscape Architect E.A. Davidson visited Craters of the Moon and drafted its first development plan. Their work stressed the importance of softening the monument's image as a hostile environment and accommodating tourists in this beautiful yet harsh landscape. As Burrell stated:

It must be considered that the entire area of the monument is to a large extent forbidding to the average tourist in the present state of development. To hold the interest of the average tourist we must not alone present the natural phenomena or beauty, but must cater to his comfort; none but those of purely scientific mind will endure the discomfort of the present campgrounds without conveniences usually furnished the motoring public such as suitable camping places, toilet facilities and adequate water.

The engineer proposed four major construction projects to address these concerns. First and foremost was the need to acquire a permanent and sufficient water supply; second was the need to provide the requisite "sanitary" facilities for camping; third was the need to assure proper administrative control through development of a single entrance, funneling visitors through a central area, complete with a checking station and residence for a custodian; and fourth was the need to improve roads and trails to improve visitor access and safety. [23]

Burrell's report established the main tenet of the monument's future development pattern--centralization--the confinement of all development to one area. This was especially practical for the construction of the monument's water system, for it was more convenient and economical to have the system service one location and to cluster administrative facilities and visitor services in one area rather than spread them throughout the monument. Although never fully articulated, the concept of centralization reflected the concept of the village espoused by early Park Service planners. Key to the village concept was that it concentrated visitor services in one location and provided for the functional needs of the visitor, including accommodations, supply stores, campgrounds, and the basic utilities of lights and water. There was nothing haphazard about a village's design, however, for all structures and architectural styles, for instance, would be carefully sited and thoughtfully chosen "in order to enhance...the 'picturesqueness' of the site." [24]

In their plan, for example, Burrell and Davidson selected the site in the vicinity of the monument's present campground, at the edge of the North Crater Flow, for here the small compound would support the custodian's quarters and office, a large campground, comfort stations, and a concession. [25] Besides its importance for the new water system or fulfilling a village concept, the site also offered one of the more ideal spots for camping. The camp at Cinderhurst was too small, Davidson believed. He considered establishing a campground at Devil's Orchard but soon rejected this idea because it was too close to one of the monument's features--crater wall fragments--and too far from known waterholes. Another site, on the northeast base of Grassy Cone, was rejected by Burrell. Chosen by the geologist Harold T. Stearns the year before in his study to expand the monument, the site, in Burrell's opinion, was a poor choice. It was too close to the highway, too far from the monument's main features and headquarters, and too small an area for development, despite its shade trees and proximity to Little Cottonwood Creek. Burrell and Davidson agreed that a campsite at the edge of the North Crater Flow was suitable, for it would "comfortably care" for up to two hundred camps. Here, according to Davidson, was a relatively perfect camping spot, given the monument's exposed volcanic environment. "Natural cinder strips or 'roads' connect various, almost 'private' walls," he wrote, and limber pine, clustered throughout the area, further added to the experience by providing shade in the summer's oven-like heat and ubiquitous sun. [26]

Although agency officials approved of the development plan--its provisions for a new headquarters compound, improved roads and trails--the Park Service never allocated the needed funding, despite pressure from monument boosters who wanted "this strange land of the past" developed on "a large scale" for "tourist America." Attempts by congressional representatives to pass legislation for appropriations to cover improvements also produced no action. Nevertheless, nature forced the agency's hand. In late July 1927, the waterhole levels dropped drastically and threatened the monument's existence. When he learned of the situation, for instance, Albright worried that the monument might have to close permanently to camping and possibly to the public altogether. For this reason the Park Service set out immediately to construct the proposed water system by tapping the springs above Little Cottonwood Creek. As part of that plan, the monument's new custodian, Robert Moore, relocated the headquarters to the location proposed by Burrell and Davidson, near the present-day campground entrance. By October 1927, Moore had moved all of the structures from the Cinderhurst Camp to the new location, which faced the monument's new concession, Crater Inn, with its guest cabins and gas station. These structures sat on either side of the recently built entrance road. According to the monument's development plan, Moore had constructed it just west of Sunset Ridge while simultaneously abandoning the two entrance system. [27]

A main component of the headquarters compound was the concession. Catering to tourist comforts, especially the motoring public, formed a central belief in the Park Service mission under its first director, Stephen T. Mather. Luxuries such as running water, rest rooms, and overnight accommodations, Mather thought, would attract more visitors, enhance their experience, and raise the stature of the monument as well as the Park Service in the mind of the general public. [28] While not on the scale of the great park hotels, Crater Inn played a major part in meeting this goal at Craters of the Moon.

Mather's approval of the concession came in October 1926, and in May 1927, the Park Service signed the first five-year permit for Crater Inn, allowing its owners, Jo G. Martin and John R. Wright of Arco, to sell "gasoline, and oil, lunch goods, cold drinks, and the usual line of accommodations furnished to tourists and sight-seers." Martin, an attorney, and Wright, his half-brother and a farmer, seemed to be excellent choices to run the operation. Martin, who was educated at the Chicago Art Institute, was deeply interested in preserving natural features, and displayed "taste and ability in designs for his store and cabins," according to E.A. Davidson. In addition, Martin had "spent all his life in the Craters country," and his familiarity with it would aid the custodian in developing the monument. [29]

Although the Park Service's chief landscape architect approved of Martin's designs for a log store, cabins, and gas station late in 1926, the agency believed that their location was "very important," and in keeping with its design philosophy withheld permission to begin construction until a landscape architect could make a field visit to select a site and discuss any design modifications. [30]

Davidson provided this service when he and Burrell visited the monument in 1927. The landscape architect chose the bench of land at the base of Sunset Ridge, across from and near the entrance of the proposed campground. Here the operators would have enough space for the store, gas station, and up to thirty-five cabins within the "crescent shaped...hill." Positioned here the concession met the practical concerns of the planners because the visitor accommodations would be near the monument's headquarters; it also met the underlying design interests of the village concept by concentrating visitor services--campground and lodge--in one place. At the time of its approval, however, Crater Inn did not have the full range of services required by the public. Noticeably missing was water. Despite its proximity to the proposed campground and headquarters, the location lacked a water source. In order to protect the monument's limited water supply at the time, the Park Service had proposed this "dry" site to the concession owners, and in return promised to connect their operation to the new water system when it was installed. Until then Crater Inn's owners hauled water from Martin several miles away. [31]

In May 1927, Martin and Wright began construction of the store, gas station, and three guest cabins (although they planned to build four) and completed the five log structures by October. Even though the Park Service was willing to allow the owners to cut trees in the monument for the construction of their buildings, Martin and Wright purchased logs from an outside source. When finished Crater Inn faced the campground and headquarters buildings. Behind and to one side of Crater Inn stood the row of guest cabins, aligned side-to-side, and just off to its other side stood the gas station. A short distance from the complex were two privies screened by trees. The main lodge measured approximately twenty by fifty feet, including a covered porch of about eighteen feet long. The guest cabins and gas station buildings each measured about ten by twelve feet. [32]

With its walls of Douglas fir logs, chimney of lava stone leaking smoke, and mule deer antlers hanging from its eaves, Crater Inn composed a familiar rustic image in a strange and unfamiliar environment. It was an image, whether intentional or not, that conformed with the Rustic style associated with architecture in the national parks. Advertising the opening of Crater Inn, Martin proudly announced that "Comforts Come to Craters of the Moon." A new tourist experience awaited at the monument. "Cabins and a lunch service," he said, "free the visit to the lava formations from inconvenience and hardship." The structures, he stated, reflected a common form and made use of materials from the surrounding environment. "All the buildings are of logs and of that type of construction which the early pioneers found suited to the Idaho climate. The roofs are covered deeply with the black cinders of the region," he added, "resulting in a remarkable coolness in the summer." Visitors could find a "hospitable retreat" in the large hall, with open fire place, and rest before or after seeing the sights. Once inside, tourists could buy groceries, lunch goods, and cool refreshments stored in the natural refrigeration of the "underground passages" of the cinder beds. [33] For the guests who desired overnight accommodations, the small guest cabins were furnished with bed springs, mattresses, bedding, and wood stoves, but no running water or indoor toilets--all for the price of $1 to $1.50 per person a night. [34]

One of the most important services the business provided when it opened was water, because just as Crater Inn was completed, the monument's water supply nearly vanished. For the next four years, the concession supplied both visitors and the monument's managers. As part of their earlier agreement with the Park Service, Wright and Martin agreed not to charge for this service in return for a hook up to the proposed water system. In the minds of the concession's owners, water was the only factor holding back the full development of the concession. The owners expected that once the water system was completed they would be able to modify the inn and cabins with running water, flush toilets, and bathing facilities, "without which it is impossible to have a first rate establishment." Water and the improvements it would bring were important to the growth and stability of the concession, and were essential to conveying the significance of Craters of the Moon to the public. With these improvements, Martin declared, the "popularity of the place will catch up with its real merit as one of the most interesting scenic phenomena in the world. People will not come in large numbers or stay very long where they are uncomfortable or subjected to hardship. We hope to relieve that at Craters of the Moon and profit accordingly," he concluded. [35]

Although at "a standstill" until the water arrived, the concession owners constructed one more guest cabin in the meantime and got their wish when the water system was finished in 1931. Martin's ambitions, however, were proven wrong. The business would struggle with debt for several decades, unable to provide the modifications the owners desired and, in turn, provide the monument with the "dignified accommodations" it deserved. [36]

Across the road from Crater Inn, monument managers dealt with their own poor facilities, since the Park Service had made few improvements beyond the immediate necessities. In October 1929, Custodian Robert Moore complained of the primitive working and living conditions at the monument. He wondered why the agency had not taken better care of what was to be "one of the most Scenic Wonders of the U.S." His only answer was more low appropriations, exacerbated by the country's, and thus the agency's, economic decline with the Great Depression. Consequently, Moore had to make the best of Paisley's one room, tar-papered shack which served as living quarters and office. Small and cramped, "this shack is a great conductor of heat and cold," he said, where "the dust blows in when the wind blows, and some of it blows out too." [37]

Moore retired before the Park Service could correct this problem. But as part of the package to attract his replacement, Director Horace Albright agreed to fund construction of a new residence. The person he had selected for the job, Burton C. Lacombe, would not accept the position otherwise. Albright's decision was swayed by his desire to fill the custodian position with Lacombe, an experienced ranger and friend, and most likely by the observations of Joe Joffe, Yellowstone National Park's assistant superintendent, who stated that the "most disgusting feature of the monument is the Government layout." More importantly, Lacombe's wife expressed profound disappointment in the monument's living quarters and refused to live in the existing structure, adding further impetus to build a new one. This latter reason illustrated a new era in management at Craters of the Moon, one in which families would accompany staff to the isolated area, and thus increase the need for adequate quarters and tolerable living conditions? [38]

Lacombe, who had previously worked in Yellowstone, planned to build a log cottage of "modern architectural design" similar to "the type of buildings usually constructed in national parks." Though plans for the cottage are missing, it can be assumed by the above statements that its design followed the principles of the Rustic style. Completed in early November 1931, the single-story, four-room "beautiful cabin" was constructed from "native dry logs," had a stone chimney, sat on a concrete foundation, and was located near the campground entrance, across the way from Crater Inn. Approximately twenty-three by thirty-one feet, the cottage also had a screened-in rear porch and many modern conveniences. The custodian's cabin resembled similar structures in other national and state parks of the period only on a smaller scale. For one thing, its location in the headquarters complex aided in effective supervision of the monument, a trait followed in other small parks. And for another, structures of this kind typically could reflect, at least on the exterior, the "pioneer homesteads of the locality." For the Lacombes, however, none of this seemed to matter. To them the new residence was a welcome sight because until it was finished they had been living out of a tent in the campground. [39]

The custodian's residence (later called the superintendent's residence) represented one of the park structures proposed in the 1927 development plan intended to aid in the monument's management, and numbered among those that appeared over time in the gradual evolution of Craters of the Moon's headquarters area in the early 1930s. The first of these, it seems, was a log warehouse, or equipment shed, although it does not appear in the original plan. The warehouse was one of many national park structures designed by the Park Service's Landscape Division, headed by Chief Landscape Architect Thomas C. Vint in the San Francisco Field Office. This particular warehouse was the work of Assistant Landscape Architect Kenneth C. McCarter. True to Rustic design principles, McCarter selected the location for the structure "off the track beaten by park patrons," where it stands today along the former east entrance road. The construction of the warehouse was undertaken by contractors from Arco who followed the specifications for a Rustic style log building outlined by the Landscape Division. Completed in November 1932, the single-story structure measured twenty-four by thirty-six feet, sat on a concrete foundation, was three bays wide, had exterior walls of peeled lodgepole pine, a gable roof, and saddle notched corners. [40]

The next structure to be built, a comfort station, appeared in the 1927 development plan, as well as more recent master plans from the early 1930s, and contributed significantly to the "comfort of the public." That the comfort station should be accorded its proper respect can be seen in the general belief among park planners that "toilets are the most necessary among structures in natural parks, and that if only safe water and proper toilets have been provided in these areas, the essentials of development have been accomplished." [41] It seems no small wonder then that the timing of the comfort station's construction was tied to the presence of the newly finished water system; its construction was also tied to emergency relief funds released to the Park Service through the New Deal. Local contractors, paid through Public Works Administration funds, built the structure.

Located in the monument's campground, where it could best serve the needs of the public, the single-story log building was erected on a concrete foundation, measured ten by twenty feet, had a split-log gable roof, notched corners, and four-angled logs supporting its southern side. Originally plans called for constructing a wood-encased water tank on south-facing side of the roof. Water from the tank was to flow through and be heated by solar panels on an extension of roof's southern edge, supported the aforementioned four-angled logs. For reasons that are currently unknown, the comfort station was built without the tank and solar panels, but it retained the log braces. The comfort station, like the warehouse, reflected the Rustic style prevalent throughout the park system, and was a typical example of log toilet structures for both sexes, with entrances on either end and a partition wall separating the sections. [42] When it was completed in September 1934, Custodian Albert T. Bicknell suggested that the comfort station was something to be proud of for its craftsmanship and its function. The "contractors," he reported, "did some very fine log work on this building, and we are receiving some very fine comments on this project from the public." [43]

The warehouse and comfort station were several important improvements undertaken during the New Deal. Although the master plans of the period contemplated constructing more buildings, funding limitations deferred construction of new structures, such as an administration building, residence, and checking station, until a later date.

In addition to structures, the Park Service improved the monument's road system during the early 1930s. Under Custodian Lacombe's direction, for instance, work crews widened and eliminated dangerous curves and cracks along the loop drive in 1931, making travel over the loop route a "distinct pleasure." During construction of the water system, a dirt road was carved out along Little Cottonwood Creek. Major improvements to the road system arrived with the New Deal programs. In 1934, a Public Works Administration project widened and upgraded four sections of the monument's road system. The first section worked on was the segment of state highway crossing the monument, where workers widened the road and eliminated blind curves so two cars could pass safely. The second project involved formally obliterating the two entrance system. (Evidently earlier work had not succeeded.) Both junctions were difficult to see from the highway and covered with sagebrush, causing tourists to miss the monument altogether. Workers closed the west entrance and redeveloped the east entrance, since it offered a shorter and safer route into the monument. The final two sections of the monument were likewise widened, straightened, graded, and cinder-surfaced for better driving conditions. These included the two-mile stretch from the headquarters to Devil's Orchard junction and the length of road leading from the junction to Big Craters. [44]

In the mid-1930s, southern road extension reemerged in Park Service plans, specifically a road to Echo Crater, but agency officials considered it more prudent to expend funds from emergency relief projects on the development of the existing road system. Still, at the behest of Custodian Bicknell, the Bureau of Public Roads conducted another survey of a road to Echo Crater. Park Service highway engineers and landscape architects agreed on a route along the Great Rift that would begin at the southern end of Inferno Cone, run south to Broken Top and Buffalo Caves and advance to the northeast of Big Cinder Butte along or near the old wagon road to Trench Mortar Flat. It would then leave the wagon road and cross a saddle east of Coyote Butte and drop down east of Echo Crater, ending in a loop road constructed between this point and Little Prairie Waterhole.

Although Associate Director A.E. Demaray approved the Echo Crater Road plan in 1936, controversy arose over the location of the road near Broken Top. From a geologic standpoint, a high route would enhance views of the Great Rift and not injure some valuable lava formations below Broken Top. From a visual perspective, the high route would scar the slope of Broken Top, but also provide visitors with an excellent panorama of the lava country in the process. Typical of Park Service road development of the time, planners attempted to harmonize the road with the surrounding landscape rather than allow the road to intrude on that landscape. Eventually this policy seems to have been used to resolve the controversy when the agency chose a route below Broken Top, against the recommendations of Regional Geologist J. Volney Lewis, since this route would conceal better the road scar from the traveling public. By at least 1940 a "minor cinder road" had been built across the lava fields to the cone where a parking lot had also been constructed. And by July of that year, Custodian Guy McCarty, eager to open up new areas of the monument to visitors, reported that he had improved the old wagon road along the Great Rift so that it was "possible to drive to Trench Mortar Flat and the Tree Molds." In the early 1940s, dreams of extending the road farther, however, ended when Regional Director O.A. Tomlinson vetoed any proposals because they would only add to the monument's administrative costs without offering much new scenery to motorists. [45]

Not all attention was focused on the southern end of the monument during the 1930s and early 1940s. In 1938 two public interest groups, the Eastern Idaho Association of Civic Clubs and Southern Idaho Inc., spearheaded a good roads movement to promote tourism in eastern and southern Idaho. Part of their campaign included improving the state highway passing through the monument's northwest corner. After some prodding, the Park Service supported the project, which involved ceding approximately a ninety- four-acre strip of highway corridor to the state. With that accomplished in 1941, the state received federal highway funds to undertake the improvements and by August 1942 the realignment and resurfacing of four miles of the highway across the monument had been completed. Overall, the project straightened the highway, eliminated the connection to the former east entrance, and made the road head more east than north. The new road entered the monument from the east slightly south of its former location and reduced the mileage to Arco. [46]

Where trails were concerned, their development improved in the late 1920s. And though their construction continued to reflect an informal pattern, it exhibited the agency's desire to reduce hardships associated with seeing the monument's spectacular features. It was during this time, for example, when Custodian Robert Moore constructed a trail from the Caves Area parking lot to Dew Drop Cave and Indian Tunnel, filling cracks with cinders and removing rocks, in order "to make a good practicable trail for persons unused to difficult ground." Moore also built a new trail from Snow Cone to Great Owl Cavern to open up more features to tourists. The trail skirted the slopes of the Spatter Cones south to Big Sink Waterhole before ending at the cavern. He brushed the trail, erected signs, and built four-foot monuments, presumably out of rock, to mark a mile of trail from the waterhole to the cavern. (Whether these signs or cairns are still extant is unknown.) All of this, Moore believed, eliminated "a number of rambling and confusing trails," making the hike across the rough terrain more attractive, and in turn increasing visitation to this section of the monument. [47]

For all of these efforts, however, the Park Service considered the monument's trail system inadequate. Without proper trails, according to Yellowstone Superintendent Roger Toll, "visitors cannot find the points of interest and are likely to get lost in the maze of lava flows." Toll's recommendations eventually led to action with the arrival of New Deal emergency relief funding. Custodian Albert Bicknell selected the Caves Area as a place that required the most attention. Only a few tourists ventured across this formidable landscape, in some cases unable to find the caverns in the sea of pahoehoe, despite the earlier attempts to construct trails here. In December 1933, a Civil Works Administration project funded a more complete development of the Caves Area trail system. Laborers, hired from relief rolls in Butte County, carved out a new surfaced trail from the hard lava that connected Indian Tunnel with Dew Drop, Boy Scout, Beauty and Surprise caves. They also extended a rough trail to Natural Bridge and Last Chance Cave. Bicknell called the new trails "a great asset." His spirits were especially buoyed when he noticed elderly visitors and children walking with ease to the caves. He found it very "encouraging" to get people out "to these points of interest." For similar reasons, the Park Service constructed a trail to Great Owl Cavern in 1934 with Public Works Administration funds. Apparently the trail followed the route established by Custodian Moore along the spatter cone chain, and provided access to the cavern for those visitors willing to venture across the rugged terrain. But, according to Custodian Guy McCarty in 1940, the trail was too primitive. Its roughness prevented many visitors from seeing the cavern. Any "ladies," he wrote, "wishing to make the trip have to pass over lava and cinders which are extremely hard on their shoes," which meant that most women and "lots of men" refused "to make the hike." [48]

On the eve of Word War II, the monument's second headquarters complex and physical plant had reached the apex of their development, thanks mostly to funding from New Deal emergency relief programs. Although never explicitly spelled out in the monument's master plans of the time, the design and siting of the buildings reflected the village concept and the Rustic style. The log structures--for both concession and administration--were grouped closely together on either side of the entrance road where all of the visitor's needs could be met for services such as gas, food, and lodging. Visitors could also find bathrooms, showers, drinking water, and a campground at their disposal. Likewise, the buildings housed monument managers, provided for administrative operations, and created space for storage. In the sparsely treed and seemingly barren raw lava landscape, the "rustic" buildings evoked an image common to national parks, and they also evoked a rugged image that seemed to fit well with the "pioneer" history of the surrounding region and the volcanic landscape.

Despite all of this, the buildings and other physical improvements fell short of basic needs, particularly from the standpoint of administrative structures. Funding dried up as the New Deal programs wound down and World War II escalated. The war, with its drastically restricted appropriations for all parks, sent the monument into a holding pattern for almost two decades, which led to the steady decline of its infrastructure. A sense of this problem can be seen in the following observations. Surveying the scene in the late 1930s, Landscape Architect E.A. Davidson thought that even then the monument's facilities were "hardly...adequate for present usage." In 1950, Superintendent Aubrey F. Houston echoed Davidson's views when he exclaimed that the monument's "installations are substandard and obsolete," emphasizing the consistent neglect of administrative facilities in the development program. Up until this time, the only significant additions to the monument's headquarters structures were a temporary frame cabin for the permanent ranger's quarters and several more guest cabins for Crater Inn. Although Park Service officials planned for new developments throughout the war years and after, they followed through with little action, plagued by continued low appropriations for park developments. Nevertheless, those plans laid the foundation for future improvements implemented through the Mission 66 program in the late 1950s and early 1960s. [49] And for this reason, they are worth reviewing in some detail.

In the master plans of the 1940s and 1950s, agency officials contemplated relocating the headquarters compound yet a third time. The most penetrating analysis of the administrative developments was Regional Director O.A. Tomlinson's 1943 report in which he provided the essential "why" to future design. Writing during the war years, a time of low appropriations and low visitation, the regional director believed that in the future the current headquarters should be relocated about a half mile northwest to a site higher in elevation and at the junction of the state highway and entrance road. Reflecting the original development plan from 1927, Tomlinson stated that this would provide a more central design in the form of a "drive through." In this way the monument's small staff would be able to check visitors, collect fees, issue permits, control traffic, and provide information in an efficient manner. The highway site was also appealing because it could expand the monument's interpretive program; the slightly higher elevation offered a near-panoramic view of the lava flows, a good vista with which to introduce visitors to the monument. [50]

Tomlinson's suggestions appeared in the preliminary master plan of 1943. The plan called for a new headquarters complex, with one building for monument offices and museum, and two five-room residences at the base of the highway. The custodian's residence, or cottage, would be converted to staff housing, thereby requiring only minor additions for housing and storage. The plan also suggested a change in building materials, ones that would be more sympathetic to the monument's environment as well as more practical. That is, agency officials wanted to eliminate logs and replace them with lava rock. All future buildings, then, would use lava rather than logs in their construction since lava, it was believed, had a more natural effect and insulating qualities. [51]

Much of this change in thinking stemmed from the opinions of Custodian Guy E. McCarty and Associate Regional Director B.F. Manbey. McCarty made this recommendation when analyzing the condition of Crater Inn and its associated structures. The log buildings, he said, were "not very pleasing to the eye," it seems, because they were rundown. They were also unappealing because they stood out from the lava landscape, for "there is hardly a tree in the whole area, particularly in the vicinity of these cabins," he stated, rendering log construction "entirely inappropriate." Furthermore, prevailing winds from the southwest whipped up road dust and cinders in front of Crater Inn, which found its way into the buildings through cracks in the logs as well as open doors and windows. And no matter how much cleaning the owners did, the store and cabins were "dust traps." Future development, then, should relocate the concession; otherwise the "majority of visitors will have...their vacations spoiled for the time spent in these buildings." All of this "will keep the Craters of the Moon in a very unfavorable light with the public." New construction, whether for the concession or monument buildings, should make use of "lava rock masonry, of which there is a great quantity available" in the monument, a resource that was less expensive to acquire than logs hauled from more than two hundred miles away. Manbey seconded the custodian's recommendation and suggested that future monument structures be modeled after those at Lava Beds National Monument. The lava structures there seemed appropriate and to "blend in with the natural surroundings." [52]

Plans for the new headquarters lay dormant during the postwar years. By the early 1950s a crisis seemed at hand. Superintendent Houston announced that the monument's "substandard and obsolete" facilities were rapidly deteriorating. Ranger recruits turned down positions at the monument, refusing to live in such poor structures. Compounding these problems were recent improvements to the state highway system, postwar travel increases, and a regional population boom, all of which expanded monument visitation and added stress to its already limited facilities and physical plant. [53]

The monument's 1950 master plan renewed Tomlinson's proposal from the early 1940s. In it Houston recommended adding a concession wing to the proposed headquarters structure in order to eliminate Crater Inn's unsightly buildings and "improve the appearance of the Government area as well." Agency planners responded to Houston's appeal and agreed that the proposed headquarters should be located at the junction of the state highway and the monument entrance, yet the location of the residential and utility areas posed problems. The small land space at the base of the highway might crowd the buildings, in addition to being susceptible to snow drifts and high development costs. Planners considered two alternative sites for the residential and utility areas as a way to relieve potential overcrowding. The first alternative site was at the base of Sunset Cone, above the highway, and the second near the former east entrance, above the highway as well, near today's group campground. Houston recommended the original location because it was more practical compared to the other two sites. Confining the headquarters to one location would reduce construction and management costs, even though it was limited in space. The final master plan selected this site and recommended moving the entrance road to the west, dividing the proposed headquarters complex with the residential and utility areas to the east and the administration building to the west. [54]

Despite approval of the plan, funding did not appear because of severe reductions in Park Service budgets for construction and maintenance in the early 1950s. As a result, buildings continued to deteriorate and, in some cases, fall down. At one point, Houston reported that it was cheaper to build new structures than to repair the old ones. And in order to ameliorate the situation, he acquired several temporary buildings (shacks and frame tents) and remodeled them for employee housing, shop buildings, and a new office, all of which were added to the existing headquarters compound. Nevertheless, these structures were temporary and not fit for year-round use; the elevation at the headquarters was about six thousand feet and winters were extreme. Meanwhile, proposals for new residences, administration building, and other facilities were put off until "later years." [55]

Similarly some limited road and trail improvements were undertaken during postwar years. In the summer of 1955, the monument straightened, widened, and regraded the one-mile spur road to Broken Top (also identified as the Great Owl parking area). This work was part of lingering plans to extend the road to Echo Crater, which remained a possibility since during the 1949 Coyote Butte fire a fire road was bulldozed to the crater along the Great Rift. But still it was only a possibility, one never fulfilled. [56]

For the most part, the monument's trail system was fully developed by this time, as documented in the master plans of the early 1950s. In the northern section of the monument, the system included trails to the Caves Area, Big Craters and Spatter Cones, Great Owl Cavern, the Tree Molds, and North Crater. In the southern end, three informal, or undeveloped, trails paralleled either side of the Great Rift. They started at the end of the Broken Top Road and separated into two routes at the Watchman. The Old Indian Trail extended south to Vermillion Chasm; the Natural Bridge Trail branched southwest of Fissure Butte, and the Split Butte Trail ran as far south as Sheep Trail Butte. Plans did call for constructing trails from Indian Tunnel to Last Chance Cave, and from Echo Crater to Amphitheater Cave. By the mid-1950s, most of the trails along the loop drive were paved, including a new trail to the Devil's Sewer site (in the North Crater Flow). [57]

Epilogue: Mission 66 and the New Look

By the late 1950s the monument's structures formed a collection of log buildings from the late 1920s and early 1930s, and wood-frame cabins, converted tent cabins, and a ramshackle collection of outbuildings built in the 1940s and 1950s. The road system, while following a well-established route, was still unpaved; wind eroded the cinder surface causing high maintenance costs, and road hazards annoyed the motoring public. Similarly, the trail system was fairly well developed, yet some improvements in surfacing and routing were necessary to both protect resources and enhance the visitor experience. The monument's built environment, especially its headquarters area, hardly lived up to the standards championed by the Rustic style, and exemplified more a "hold-the-fort" mentality on the part of agency officials besieged by floods of visitors and related management issues. During the dark days of World War II, Craters of the Moon's visitation hovered near two thousand. Once wartime restrictions were lifted on travel, the monument's visitation rocketed to fifty thousand in 1950, doubled in 1955, and literally swamped the area's physical plant and small staff in the process. The shock waves from the new travel boom rumbled through all of the nation's parks as the new "industrial tourist" arrived in his bermuda shorts and asked "Where's the john? How long's it take to see this place? Where's the Coke machine?" [58]

To cope with this new reality, the National Park Service launched the Mission 66 redevelopment program in the late 1950s to expand staffing and improve ailing park infrastructures. At Craters of the Moon, the program was estimated to cost around $1 million dollars, and the monument was one of the first park units in Region Four to receive its benefits. Most of the construction occurred between 1956 and 1961, but the major work was accomplished between 1956 and 1958. Following earlier master plans, the program created a third headquarters site at the base of the highway. It renovated and surfaced the monument's road system, improved the campground, and constructed a new comfort station (in the campground), utilities, and water and sewage system. This comprehensive approach to developing the monument's buildings and physical plant was perhaps the most significant program in its history. Attesting both to its significance and the velocity with which it occurred at the monument, Ranger Robert Zink, who helped plan for the program, commented that "Mission 66 has broken over our heads almost with a vengeance." [59]

Beginning in the summer of 1956, work commenced on the monument's redevelopment. Renovation of the road system began first; the only significant design change from previous master plans was the relocation of the entrance road slightly west of the new headquarters compound, in this way unifying rather than dividing the site. The following summer the campground was expanded and its road paved. Likewise, the loop drive was graded, paved, and, in some sections, revised. Nine parking areas, for example, were created at scenic views and volcanic formations. By 1958 construction of the road system was finished. Only minor improvements were made to the trail system. [60]

The most significant change, however, took place with the construction of the third administration site between 1957 and 1958. Unlike the roads and trails, the new headquarters buildings created an entirely new look for the monument. Deeming the assortment of log, wood-frame, and "temporary" structures (office, housing, sign shop and storage) unfit, it seems, for future management, the Park Service removed all but two of the former administration structures, the comfort station and warehouse, by July 1958.

Included in this removal were Crater Inn and its associated structures. The concession had struggled to stay out of the red for most of its existence; its various owners had been unable to improve the facilities, for example, by adding running water and toilets in its guest cabins, nor had they been able to maintain the appearance of the structures. Most of the monument's managers thought of the lodge, cabins, and gas station as an eyesore, which reduced rather than enhanced the image of the monument. Furthermore, as part of the Mission 66 planning process, agency officials recognized that the monument should be considered a day-use site, a roadside attraction more than a destination, because visitors generally stayed in the monument only a few hours. Given the concession's poor appearance and business history as well as the nature of the monument's visitation, the Park Service decided to eliminate concession services at Craters of the Moon and did not renew the operation's license. Crater Inn's buildings were sold at public auction, the last of which left the monument in November 1958. [61]

All of the former building sites were "naturalized," and only the occasional concrete footing appears through the cinders to remind one of the existence of the concession and other structures. (One can still see concrete or asphalt pads at the base of Sunset Ridge marking the general site of Crater Inn's guest cabins, for example, and concrete foundation corners of the custodian's/superintendent's residence at the edge of the campground.) Today only the log comfort station in the campground and log warehouse in the boneyard survive as reminders of this early era in the monument's history. [62]

By 1958 an entirely "new" monument emerged with the completion of the current headquarters complex, which included the visitor center, utility and maintenance building, and five residences. The new headquarters area also consisted of new sewage and secondary water systems, as well as landscaping similar to a city park--lawns, trees, and shrubs (both native and non-native), a drinking fountain, and picnic area. Park Service planners hoped that the trees and shrubbery would add privacy to an otherwise open residential area, one which was adjacent to the state highway, visitor center, and campground. And, just as it showed concern for the comfort of its employees, the Park Service also upgraded its forty-eight unit campground for the comforts of the motoring public, who no longer had a concession for their convenience. Workers graded and paved the campground road, clear and leveled camping spaces, installed twenty-five fireplaces and thirty picnic tables, created a small picnic area, and constructed a new comfort station--all by September 1959.

Surveying the new headquarters and commenting on his new surroundings in the late 1950s, Superintendent Everett Bright registered the significance of the program. 'This is quite a change," he wrote, "from the 10' x 14' one room tent covered frame shack which served as office and headquarters for the past twenty-five years." The spacious new administration facility, compared to the rather spontaneous development of the past headquarters area, seemed more cohesive, modernistic, and well-designed. [63]

Reciting the rationale of past proposals, agency officials believed that the new "layout" was a success because it offered a "much better relationship to the natural features" than in the past. The "gem stone" masonry blocks used in the construction of the monument buildings, although not lava, blended well with the lava terrain, whereas the former log and wood-frame structures had contrasted with the sparsely vegetated, volcanic landscape. Finally, agency managers believed, the new site conformed to the compact design theme outlined in the monument's first development plan, and was therefore an important accomplishment, enabling a small staff to integrate operations and achieve overall management efficiency. In a somewhat desolate area, this close-knit development made it possible to group facilities together and "gain architectural unity in the development." [64]

Summary of Context Theme

Between 1924 and the late 1950s, the National Park Service developed Craters of the Moon National Monument to enhance the visitor experience and aid in the monument's administration. The development reflected many of the trends in Park Service history and design during these general phases. The first of these lasted several years, from 1924 to 1927, and represented the establishment of the monument's first headquarters compound, Cinderhurst Camp. This headquarters area was unplanned and represented the work, primarily, of the first custodian, Samuel A. Paisley. Nevertheless, the small number of structures, campground, and water source served well both the monument's management and its visitors during a period when visitation was relatively low and the Park Service was only in the initial stages of planning Craters of the Moon's development. A large part of that development philosophy originated at this time, since the agency envisioned the monument as a wayside for Yellowstone-bound travelers.

The wayside image influenced subsequent development of the monument between 1927 and World War II. In 1927, the Park Service created the first development plan for the monument, recommending a new location near the present campground, as a way to centralize its administration by combining monument administration buildings, a concession, and campground in one area. The 1927 plan also established that development should soften the monument's harsh appearance by catering to tourist comforts largely through the development of a concession, an adequate water supply, toilets, and more camp sites. Though not specifically stated, the structures and other man-made features in the monument resembled those log structures constructed in other national parks in the NPS Rustic style, and reflected the tenets of naturalistic design by the use of the village concept. The built environment evolved in the late 1920s and 1930s, benefiting greatly from New Deal emergency relief programs. By World War II, the monument's "rustic" image--its pioneer look and rugged appearance--seemed to harmonize well with the natural environment.

Reduced appropriations during the wars years and after disabled development efforts at the monument. Haphazard development and deteriorated structures characterized the scene until Mission 66. Between 1956 and 1961, the Park Service "renewed" the monument's development, eliminating most of the old structures, relocating the headquarters to a third site, and constructing new buildings--composed of more "modern" materials--and facilities for serving the public and managing the monument.

Associated Property Types

Name of Property Type: Rustic Architecture


Between 1924 and 1942, the National Park Service developed buildings and other structures at Craters of the Moon to enhance the visitor experience and assist in the monument's administration. Most of these developments represented a distinct architectural style known as Rustic or National Park Service (NPS) Rustic. NPS Rustic evolved from the romantic and rustic styles of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, fostered by the National Park Service's early commitment to the principles of landscape design that supported both the integration and subordination of park buildings and other structural improvements to their natural setting. All of the monument's "rustic" buildings were located in the second headquarters site and maintenance area in the vicinity of today's campground at the base of Sunset Ridge. They were originally constructed with log walls and rough-cut ends, concrete foundations, lava-stone chimneys, casement windows, and gable roofs. In addition, most were originally built with either cinder, wood shingle, or split-log roof materials, although these have changed in the surviving structures. Although a variety of shapes and sizes, they were single story with simple floor plans. They included Crater Inn (store/lodge, guest cabins, and gas station), the custodian's/superintendent's residence, warehouse, and comfort station. The only extant buildings are the warehouse and comfort station. Concrete footings and concrete/asphalt pads identify where the custodian's/superintendent's residence and Crater Inn's guest cabins formerly stood.


Representative of the Rustic style, these buildings are significant under National Register Criterion C. They are also associated with important themes and events in the history of the park under Criterion A--recreation and tourism (see context statement for CRMO Recreation and Tourism) and the federal government's administration of the area.

Registration Requirements:

Structures eligible for listing under this category are historically significant and must retain architectural and structural integrity--but may sustain some alteration--and must date between 1924 and 1942. Dates may vary according to new information or circumstances. When considering alterations to the architectural and structural integrity of these structures, it must be possible to document that they were built in this era for the purpose of the monument's visitors and administration. It must also be shown that those alterations do not detract from the historic character of the structures. Although the historic context statement covers the period up to the late 1950s and early 1960s, no properties less that fifty years old will be considered eligible.

The following aspects of integrity require consideration when evaluating Rustic architecture at Craters of the Moon:

Location and Setting:

The original location of Rustic structures at Craters of the Moon should remain intact. Without the integrity of location, the properties would be rendered ineligible. The setting of Rustic structures should remain intact, but some alteration can occur without rendering the properties ineligible.

Design, Workmanship, and Materials:

Rustic structures considered historically significant at Craters of the Moon should possess most of their original design, workmanship, and materials. In general, to retain eligibility, Rustic architecture properties must still have the majority of the wall materials, original foundation, and roof configuration (and possibly decorative woodwork and door handles) intact. Any additions and exterior alterations must be compatible with the structure's original design, workmanship, and materials in regard to quality and type.

Feeling and Association:

To possess feeling and association, Rustic architecture properties must retain integrity of location, design, workmanship, and materials.

Potentially Eligible National Register Properties:

The following list identifies properties that may be eligible for the National Register in association with the context titled National Park Service Management and Development, 1924-1942. However, nominations are not included in this package.

  1. Log Warehouse
  2. Log Campground Comfort Station


Both structures should have Determinations of Eligibility written and their integrity assessed.

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Last Updated: 27-Aug-1999