GEORGE C. CROWE ARRIVED AT THE TOWER TO BEGIN HIS assignment as custodian of Devils Tower National Monument in late spring of 1931, driving a newly-purchased government pickup truck from California to Wyoming. He would be the first full-time staff at DTNM. Previously, he had been a Ranger-Naturalist at Yosemite National Park in California, and one can only wonder at his reaction to the relative isolation of his new home. Having personnel who would live at the Tower began the development of a structured program for visitors, and would give the national monument some protection. Crowe's appointment to the Tower also generated a need for a permanent residence.
NPS Junior Landscape Architect Howard Baker and an engineer from Wind Cave National Park visited DTNM to select a site for the custodian's residence, which would double as a checking station. They also had to determine whether suitable logs for use in the building could be found on DTNM land. The location chosen for the structure was across the parking lot from the shelter cabin at the base of the Tower.
Baker, in his inspection report, had this to say about the last leg of their trip to the Tower: "In regard to the 12-mile approach to the national monument from U. S. Highway No. 16, the need of a new road is self-evident. The present approach is over a meandering road which follows section and property lines at random to such an extent that one member of the party remarked that we had seen the Tower from all sides except the top."
His other comments about the road were concerns that would be addressed in the years following: "The nature of the ground [gumbo when wet] would make the road practically impassable during wet weather combined with narrow one-way steep grades on certain cliff sections. The distance could be materially shortened and gravel surfacing would make the approach comparable with the adjacent road system."  An unsurfaced meandering road with steep hills created problems for visitors to the national monument, with gumbo, precipitous slopes, and narrow roadways each carrying their own risk.
In the droughty years of the early 1930s gumbo roads were not much of a problem. But neighboring livestock breaking through the fences and grazing on DTNM land became an on-going problem for Custodian Crowe. John Martin, an area rancher, recalled how he and Buzz Driskill put about 500 head of cattle into the park on grass that had not been heavily grazed for years. Martin, who at the time was in his teens, said "George Crowe was sure on the fight about those cattle up on the divide. He came up on a big workhorse and tried moving the cattle by himself. He couldn't get it done. Buzz finally said to me 'John, we're gonna go to jail if we don't get them out' and we pushed the cows off the national monument." 
Because Crowe had no building to use as an office, the shelter cabin was fixed up for that purpose in the early summer of 1931, and a flagstone porch laid out in front. The cabin had apparently been built with green timber because the cracks between the logs were as large as two inches, necessitating repair with split log chinking.
The custodian's residence, built by Mr. Cummings of Deadwood, was nearly completed in September. Crowe's meticulous oversight of the project resulted in what Baker called a "very fine-looking building."  The residence, a log structure set on a foundation of native stone, was considered a good example of NPS rustic architecture. It had a living room, kitchen, bath, and one bedroom. Since there were five Crowe children, even after the house was completed, the family used a tent for additional space.
Plumbing was installed and ready to be connected to a main water system, which was in the preliminary planning stages at the time of the construction of the residence. A new campground site being considered about a quarter of a mile away would also benefit from the development of a water system.
While the residence was under construction, Crowe looked to the future and roughed-in the wiring for an electrical system, with the hope that the Tower could procure a small power generator. Crowe had also chosen the new campground area which could be used as soon as a road could be built connecting the campground to the approach road. The present campground was deemed by Baker to be quite inadequate in size, and not very desirable because of its location near the terminus of the approach road.
Baker's report to his superiors delineated the urgent need "for a stable to accommodate at least two horses, a garage for one car, and as it is planned to make this one building a portion of it could be used for a blacksmith shop." Baker suggested a layout and said, "The building is to be built of logs as the timber in this country is very suitable for such a building." 
During his tenure at DTNM, Crowe instituted a plan to put the Tower more into the public awareness. He spoke before clubs, schools, and churches in Wyoming and South Dakota in the fall of '31. Crowe was determined to do his best to increase visitation at the Tower.
In a letter dated January 1932, to Mr. and Mrs. P. C. Kolinski in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he wrote:
He continued his campaign for a better approach road, hoping that the State of Wyoming would do the work. The condition of highways and roads throughout the state generated discussion by many people, as an editorial in the Casper Tribune Herald in December of 1931 notes:
By February 1932, Crowe, who had served as custodian for just under a year, was leaving for a position in Yellowstone National Park. The Crowe family departure was recorded in The Sundance Times:
While Crowe had been an advocate for the national monument, his successor would become its ambassador.
NEWELL F. JOYNER arrived at the Tower from Lincoln, Nebraska, on March 7, 1932, to begin his appointment as custodian of DTNM. He had returned to college in Lincoln after serving as a ranger-naturalist at Yellowstone National Park. Joyner made a statement to the Acting Director of the NPS that reflected the austerity of his new workplace: "The only thing which is a bit adverse is that when Mr. Crowe leaves with his possessions there'll be left only three buildings, a Ford truck, and the Tower." 
Crowe welcomed Joyner to the Tower area in a letter dated February 26, 1932:
He finishes his letter with the prophetic "If you have any tools for carpentry or auto use, bring them along."  Crowe knew the demands for repair work would be ongoing. And with no full-time staff to help, a custodian with tools would be a valuable asset to DTNM.
Joyner's cover letter for his first monthly report, dated April, 1932, to the National Park Service gives clear indication of the status of DTNM within the park service structure:
His last paragraph seems a plaintive plea: "Could we be included on the mailing list of the National Park Bulletin?" 
To be fair to the NPS Washington office, Joyner was only the second full-time custodian to be hired at the Tower, and Crowe had only served in that capacity for a year. However, it is apparent that Joyner intended to integrate the DTNM fully into the NPS system, and move the Tower into a more public position.
This first monthly report was five single-spaced pages long, full of information about what had officially transpired in the previous month. It also mentioned community needs, area concerns, and items of interest. This would be the norm for a Joyner account, the first in a long line of superb documentation by Joyner, of the Tower he would grow to love and the national monument he respected and cared for.
He recorded DTNM data, flora and fauna, his involvement with community activities, and every now and then some personal information. His wry commentary said much about how things were at the Tower: "Office equipment was ordered and should be here early in November; this is to supercede [sic] the motley assortment of apple boxes, rough-hewed benches and tables, and so forth. The old equipment is picturesque and caused much interested comment this summer, but is far from comfortable and efficient." 
Joyner's wife, Laura, helped with DTNM business on occasion, meeting with visitors if Joyner was unavailable, and sometimes helping with paperwork in the Tower office. Laura later received a letter from the Secretary of the Interior informing her that she had been appointed as Assistant Custodian at DTNM, but "without compensation, not subject to provisions of the Retirement Act." 
Once Joyner had to cancel a talk he was to give to the Hulett Women's Club because he needed to monitor the bridge protection improvements during a sudden high-water period. He had planned to attend their next meeting when a storm moved through the area making the roads impassable. Rather than disrupt their program for a second time he rode horseback to meet with them. He parenthetically included in his monthly report a comment made by his wife: "My A.C.W.P. [Assistant Custodian without pay] says that I never rode 25 miles on a horse to talk to her!" 
JOYNER HAD LISTENED well to the information Crowe provided him on the rural community to which Joyner was moving his family. His report of rain during April 1932 was accompanied by this thought: "This weather appears to be general in this region, and has precluded the possibility of an agricultural disaster which was impending. Another drought season would have literally 'cleaned' many residents of this corner of Wyoming."
The Depression and its impact on the area concerned him, too. "There continues to be a great deal of need among residents of this region, but our pay-rolls of the past two months have helped many who would have otherwise been charges of charity at this time. The pay-roll has also helped the local merchant, for payments have been made on past-due accounts." 
Joyner spent some time trying to procure needed equipment, and with a very limited budget he would simply ask other parks for any surplus items they might have. Sometimes he was successful, sometimes not.
Guy D. Edwards, Acting Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park wrote: "Dear Mr. Joyner: Replying to your letter of May 23, we had at one time a surplus mimeograph machine, but this was furnished to Sam Woodring for the Grand Teton National Park and it is regretted that we are unable to furnish you with such a machine. We have an extra machine here, but we need it in emergencies and we do not feel that we could consider it surplus and send it to you."
And while Edwards did not have extra equipment, he did mention in his letter some publicity regarding the Tower: "Thanks for the copy of the Big Horn Mountain Association booklet. Your national monument certainly received a prominent place in this booklet. The last issue of the American Legion Monthly contains a fine article on the parks and national monuments and Devils Tower is given considerable prominence in the article." 
As usual, Joyner was gracious but honest in his reply to Edwards:
Improvements were ongoing at the Tower. Associate Engineer Walter Atwell of the NPS visited DTNM in April to inspect the bridge and revetments, and make recommendations for work relative to those projects. The new river canal had been widened to accommodate any flood water that might come, in hopes of protecting the bridge and its approaches.
When Assistant Chief Engineer Burney of the San Francisco office arrived in September 1932, he inspected the authorized bridge repairs, and suggested further work to be done on the stone protection and revetments. Logs were piled up against the upstream side of the tetrahedrons to lessen the wash taking place under them and to increase the deposition of silt and rocks nearby. This would help strengthen the new channel of the river.
Another item of interest to Burney was the plan for an approach road to be constructed to DTNM from Highway 16. Contracts were let to gravel portions of Highway 16 between Sundance and Moorcroft, which until then had been unsurfaced. Road improvement was deemed highly necessary to increase visitation to the Tower. Joyner stated that, with the rains in the latter part of September, the roads were impassable for carseven the mail had to be delivered with a Caterpillar tractor.
JOYNER GAVE CONSIDERABLE thought to the organization of exhibits at the Tower that would be housed in the old auto shelter remodeled into an office. Preliminary sketches were prepared to show how the Tower and the surrounding region came into its present form. He liked walking the DTNM groundsthe following entry shows his interest in the world about him:
In Joyner's very first report to the NPS director, he had stated his intention to have a professional museum, however small, available to visitors to the Tower. As a trained ranger-naturalist he was very interested in archeology, paleontology, the flora and faunaall manner of natural phenomenaand strongly believed access to more information would enhance the visitors' experience.
Joyner toured the Adams Memorial Museum in Deadwood, South Dakota, and discussed museum issues with the director Mr. McGahey. Joyner was shown what was believed to be the only specimen of rock available from the top of the Tower. It had been brought down by Arthur Jobe, who climbed the Tower in 1906, and given to the Adams Museum in 1931. Joyner stated, "At the first opportunity I shall attempt to arrange a transfer of that piece to our own small museum where it rightfully belongs, and where it could be more accessible to geologists." 
A new administration building, which would also serve as the Visitor Center, would house offices, storage, visitor lavatories, museum display space, and a museum work room. By March of 1933, plans were underway to prepare a few charts and the specimens that would fill all the space available for displays. A large painted map of the national monument area, currently in preparation, would round out the exhibits. In May some museum work was done on the cataloguing system, reconstruction of fossil bones, and preparing an old Sharp's carbine found on Tower land.
Joyner made a trip to Cheyenne in the middle of April, 1934, to confer with Will G. Metz, State Emergency Relief Administrator (ERA), and secured approval for a museum preparation project. The person in charge of the project would be Adolph Vorpahl of Laramie, Wyoming, who had a master's degree in geology and had worked one summer with an archeological party in eastern Wyoming.
A tentative plan was prepared, around which exhibits and collections were to be assembled. The State ERA abandoned the project on the first of May, resulting in much of Vorpahl's time being spent on other work.
According to Joyner, progress was minimal as late as November, 1935:
Field Educational Headquarters of the NPS informed Joyner in February of 1936 that funds were becoming available for the Tower museum exhibit. He was pleased with the revised preliminary plan sent to him, and excited that the DTNM Museum was next in line on the list of museums to be developed. Since he had been quite vocal over the years about the importance of a museum at the Tower, he simply stated, "There is no need to elaborate on the value of such a museum." 
Joyner continued to search out and ask for items that would enhance the museum collection. He wrote a letter in August of 1936 to Mrs. Walter Halstead of Bixby, SD:
(Two flag pieces listed in the museum archives accession records as being acquired by Joyner in 1938Accession No. 67 donated by Ed Smith, Sundance, WY, and Accession No. 68 donated by David B. Hilton, also of Sundanceare now missing from the museum collection.)
Clint Wells of Sundance donated an ox shoe set and a bull whip to the Tower museum in the spring of 1936. Wells first came to the Black Hills as a "bull-whacker" in 1880, and was so employed for a number of years. He then engaged in ranching, and one year owned a team of buffalo calves which he broke to drive.
John Martin, a local rancher, recalled Wells driving a team of oxen pulling a covered wagon to the Tower: "He was known for cracking his bull whip, a good 40-feet long. He'd come into the Tower every year a crackin' that whip." 
Joyner enjoyed meeting members of the scientific community on their visits to the Tower, whether they were geological students from universities and colleges, scientists, or faculty members like Dr. A. S. Worthin, Jr., Geology Department at Vassar College.
Dr. Worthin asked Joyner to cooperate with him in preparation of a paper to be published in a scientific journal. Joyner's goal, an ambition he would have during his entire tenure at the Tower, was to point out the need for a thorough investigation of the phenomena of the Tower.
In October of 1932 Joyner began collecting items for a geological library. It was during this period that Joyner first mentioned Dick Stone of Gillette, who had been compiling historical data regarding the Tower, especially the American Indian stories of the surrounding area. Stone's work would eventually be of great benefit to historical researchersJoyner was able to procure a copy of Stone's unpublished history of the Tower area for the museum.
JOYNER CONSISTENTLY REQUESTED various surveys and maps of DTNM be madea boundary survey, a topographic survey, and maps of the national monument showing important features. His requests were, for the most part, usually honored, though some time might pass before the maps were in his possession.
His matter-of-fact, logical thinking is evident throughout the map-making process. From his November, 1932 report:
He also made arrangements with a local artist, Sidney Harvey (who was the Crook County Clerk at that time), to prepare a pictorial map of DTNM. Joyner could then mimeograph and distribute the map in an "effort to 'entice' the visitor to stay longer and see more of the national monument reserve." 
Joyner did not give up on his wishes easily. In the first 1933 report, he continued in his quest to acquire more complete information about DTNM:
Joyner initiated and maintained a good working relationship with the Forest Service, Soil Conservation Service (now known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service), and other government agencies. He had a modern, holistic approach to management at the Tower, and he was not afraid to ask for help in areas that were beyond his expertise.
The Forest Service personnel inspected the national monument forest for evidence of Black Hills bark beetle infestation, offering valuable help and sending Joyner materials on forest entomology. Joyner also negotiated for a combined fire school for Forest Service cooperators and people who agreed to help in case of fire on DTNM grounds.
The Joyners were community-minded people, enjoyed meeting others, and were open and gracious in offering their personal time and energy to give visitors to the Tower a pleasant and rewarding experience.
Under the heading "Custodian's Activities" in his May report of 1932, Joyner had this to say:
That same report recounted action by the Wyoming State Highway Commission designating the roadway from Highway 16 to Hulett and Alva via the Tower as a State Highway. Construction was planned to begin the next yearCrook County Commissioners diverted monies, previously budgeted for work elsewhere, to use on the road past the Tower, the route that had been serving as an approach road to DTNM. The State Highway Commission, in reporting the road status change to a state highway, pointed out that this new highway would be of great value to the more or less isolated farming region, but did not mention its proximity to the Tower; in fact, did not mention the Tower at all.
Joyner, however, knew the importance of a surfaced road to the national monument. He felt it would make the Tower available year-round to visitors, who might stay longer without fearing that a sudden rainstorm would make the roads too difficult to travel.
His May report chronicled the birds arrivingshore birds early in the month, wood warblers, swallows, kingbirds, flycatchers, western tanagers, thrushes, and others later in May. He noted when the young prairie dogs were first seen above ground, and when the young cottontail rabbits made an appearance.
A later report lists chickadees, nuthatches, juncos, and creepers being observed during a mild winter month, along with small groups of rosy finches, the more common gray jays and magpies, and the colorfully-named hairy and three-toed woodpeckers.
He remarked on a new business set up outside DTNM. Horses would now be available for visitors who wanted to ride around the Tower or make a trip to the Little Missouri Buttes. And he continued to document artifactsan arrowhead, a huge bone in the Morrison series, metamorphosed sandstone.
The Wolfe family gave a young porcupine, apparently less than a week old, to DTNM that first spring. Joyner felt the porcupine would be an interesting educational exhibit during the summer, and give them "an opportunity to make some observations on the young of this mammal."  No mention is made of Mrs. Joyner's reaction.
In a short time, the young porcupine, named Porky, had grown and become quite a pet. He outgrew medicine-dropper feedings and graduated to a baby bottle. Joyner reported, "We have found that it will play like a kitten, come when called, desires human companionship, and shows many other traits not known to be possessed by porcupines." 
As Porky grew, he got into some mischief, such as practicing branch-chewing on the rungs of the kitchen chairs. He eventually moved out of the house, but over the next two years would regularly stop by to visit. Unfortunately, Porky's friendliness to humans led to his demise. He approached some picnickers who, not knowing him and perceiving him as a threat, killed him.
ONE OF JOYNER'S first major projects as custodian was a DTNM inspection in which he looked over all the roads, ascertained the physical boundary of the national monument, studied the trails available for horseback and hiking parties, (including manmade trails, cattle trails, and game trails), and became familiar with the topography of the area. He found some surprises. Practically all the fences, where they existed, were set in on national monument grounds, in some places as much as 220 yards. He located another group of springs and realized that two more bends of the river were within the national monument boundary, and that DTNM was considerably larger than he had previously thought.
Joyner had concerns about the boundary fence, or in some places the lack of a fence, marking national property. Joyner's note about grazing in his December 1932 report to the Director of the National Park Service made clear his problem:
In the next month's report he made another mention about the grazing problem:
SOME EVENTS HELD at the Tower added to Joyner's workload more than others. During 1932, extra programs included the Old Settlers' Picnic in June, the Devils Tower Pow-Wow in July, and a movie newsreel shot during December.
The first annual Devils Tower Pow-Wow was held at the Tower on Sunday, July 3, 1932, and by special request was continued over the next day. This pow-wow, however, had nothing to do with the American Indians, but was a celebration for area residents.
It began with a baseball game between Driskill's Dudes and the Spearfish Grays, which the Grays won fifteen to six. This was followed by a barbecue picnic, with another baseball game in the afternoon. The Upton team won over Sundance by a score of six to four. The final planned event was a cow puncher's track meet, which reportedly had some fine riding displayed by the participants. Other recreation available included fishing, swimming, golfing, and dancing.
The celebration was well-attended and the local newspaper account said the crowd hoped it would become a yearly event. However, if there was a second annual affair, it was poorly recordedthere is no mention in the area papers and none in Joyner's monthly reports. By the next year, 1933, Crook County was in the midst of what was considered at the time the worst drought conditions in Wyoming's history. While the drought did not seem to affect attendance at the Old Settlers' Picnic over the next few years, it may have curtailed the ability of area residents to attend additional recreational outings.
In December, E. K. Edwards, a Paramount company cameraman, spent two days at the Tower in the company of Joyner and George Grenier filming the Tower for a newsreel. Edwards captured images of the Tower from many different angles from the ground, with views of the old ladder and Tower reflections in the Belle Fourche River among the many areas covered.
The following day a cabin plane from Upton took to the sky over the Tower so Edwards could film the aerial movies, the first of their kind (whether the first aerial movie or the first featuring the Tower is unclear). An article in The Sundance Times, December 8, 1932, reported Edwards telling Joyner that "obviously his [Edward's] business was chasing thrills," and he had become nearly "thrill-proof," but that the Tower with its "artistry of form and color, beauty of its setting, its magnitude, and the evidences of great geological activity gave him a great thrill." 
Joyner recounted in his monthly report to the director of the Department of the Interior that as of January 3, 1933, they had "not received word that the material was accepted for showing, but feel that if it is accepted it will be the greatest single thing that has occurred to give publicity to this national monument." 
When the newsreel was released early in February of 1933 Joyner had these comments: "This was released by the Paramount company the fore-part of the month, and judging from correspondence, had a rather wide distribution. I was somewhat put out by their faking the storystating that five persons had lost their lives attempting to climb the Tower, where actually there have been no fatalities." 
While long-time area residents had been gathering at the Tower for an Old Settlers' Picnic for years, an official organization, the Northern Black Hills Pioneer Association, was formed on June 19, 1932. On that day 529 people registered, making their way to the Tower in 151 cars, according to Joyner's notes. Mrs. Grace Bush of Hulett arranged the organizational picnic, George Grenier, proprietor of the Tower store, was chosen to act as temporary chairman, and Leslie Cook served as temporary secretary. The picnic, planned as an annual event at the Tower, retained its name, the Old Settlers' Picnic. To be eligible for membership in the association, one must have been a resident of the area for at least 35 years.
The Belle Fourche paper, June 24, 1932, reported about the organizational picnic:
The second annual picnic had 1,250 people in the crowd, with 2,385 attending in 1934. Joyner recorded preparations made by the Tower staff that year to insure a safe and enjoyable day for the picnickers:
The Northern Black Hills Pioneer Association picnic on June 16, 1935 had 3,662 attending, with 4,532 people recorded at the June 21 gathering of 1936. Each year there were planned speeches, music, dancing, and games, with impromptu events and visiting rounding out the programs.
THE DEPRESSION THAT held the nation in its grip did have ramifications in Crook County. Joyner was cognizant of the help DTNM spending gave to some of the unemployed in the county. He hired locals at every opportunity and rotated crews so more men could be assisted in providing for their families. He elaborates in his September and October, 1932 reports:
An editorial in The Sundance Times, July 14, 1932, summed up the county sentiment well:
Newly inaugurated President Franklin D. Roosevelt called a special session of Congress on March 9, 1933 to enable him to submit reform and recovery measures for congressional validation. The 99-day session came to be known as the "Hundred Days." The president called his progressive proposals "The New Deal," an effort to end The Great Depression and reform the nation's economy.
On March 31, 1933 Congress passed the Emergency Conservation Work Act (ECW). Many of the projects completed at the Tower in 1934 and 35 were due to ECW monies and laborers. Although the ECW was commonly referred to as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Joyner does not refer to the program by that name until 1935, when the first CCC camp was located at DTNM. The ECW was succeeded by, and the name officially changed to, the CCC on June 28, 1937, and it, in turn, was discontinued on June 30, 1943.
Another of the federal government's responses to overwhelming unemployment throughout America would greatly benefit DTNM and help move the Tower into greater notice by the public. The Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works was created by Title II in the National Industrial Recovery Act of June 1933. Eventually known as the Public Works Administration (PWA), it would be the first national peacetime effort to create jobs, a New Deal program meant to improve the nation's infrastructure while also combating unemployment. The CWA (Civil Works Administration) was the first relief program. It started in the winter of 1933, and lasted until it was absorbed into the Emergency Relief Administration (ERA) in July of 1934.
Joyner's report dated January 10, 1935, was his first since May, 1933, because so much of his time was spent organizing, implementing, and overseeing construction projects at DTNM. Those responsibilities, along with the fact that he had no clerical help, created a huge gap in his documentation of activities at the national monument.
"As this report will bring out, we have been extremely busy with projects under the PWA, CWA, and ERA. This period of activity has been extremely interesting and the developments are now reaching a point where we can present most of the minimum requirements as far as standard conveniences for our visitors are concerned."  Joyner referred to the dollars spent with these program funds as "alphabet money". 
In reporting on general weather conditions at DTNM he said:
Perhaps most telling of the benefit that DTNM provided to an area battered by drought and depression is in Joyner's recap of the labor situation during the last half of 1933 through 1934:
DURING AUGUST 1933 work began on a new equipment shed. The log structure was in use before the shingles were put on.
Two springs were developed to provide storage for water for fire protection on the west side of the national monument area. Concrete boxes and one-inch pipe were installed to carry water to a concrete storage tank. Water could then be drawn into barrels on a truck by gravity feed, and transported to the fire scene.
An entrance road project began in early September 1933 as a PWA expenditure. The plan called for three miles of road and for bridge protection improvements, but the monies were insufficient and only a mile and a half of the roadway was constructed. After the side-hill cutting and through-cutting was complete, the rough grading of the roadway was accomplished using fifty head of local horses pulling dump wagons and fresnos (equipment used to scrape and move dirt). The bridge protection improvements involved construction of thirty-three concrete tetrahedrons identical to the thirty-nine previously constructed. The new tetrahedrons were installed downstream from and attached to the original group, and placed to prevent the river current from running out of the constructed channel.
The parking area construction got underway in October 1933, and involved expensive rock excavation and fill due to a shortage of dirt. It was partially completed, and the rough grading done in connection with the work on the entrance road. Finish grading and graveling would wait until spring.
A BOUNDARY FENCE for the national monument property was the subject of a long conversation Joyner had with Howard Baker, Junior Landscape Architect with the NPS, in September of 1933. Baker reported to his supervisor:
Baker was obviously concerned that the combination of drought and over-grazing would have a detrimental effect on the DTNM landscape.
In the winter of 1933-34, PWA project monies provided for fencing five and a half miles of the Tower boundary. Four-strand barbed wire with posts went up, along with eight steel gates, twelve wire gates, and two twelve-foot wooden cattle guards. The cattle guards had to be rebuilt with concrete and railroad ties because local residents were driving their stock and horse-drawn vehicles over the wooden structures.
Of the boundary survey to mark a fence line, Joyner said: "In connection with the boundary fence it was necessary to survey the boundary which included the location of a number of corners, considerable correspondence with the General Land Office in connection with the original surveys, and the reestablishment of several points. As generally happens we were quite surprised to find where the true boundary lay" 
In November 1934 a financial allotment was received by DTNM to complete the entrance road, including grading of the other mile and a half, finish grading and graveling of the entire road, completion of the parking area grading, and necessary bridge repair items. Sixty-eight head of stock were at work in December and, except for two places, all of the heavy work was completed on the road. A contract was approved with J.J. Dolling of Gillette, Wyoming, to furnish and stockpile the gravel needed for surfacing the road in the spring.
The following plans for continuing improvements at the Tower were prepared and either approved or awaiting approval at the NPS Director's office: parking area development; campground development; equipment shed; gasoline and oil house; entrance pylons; additional reservoir; river bank protection; guard rails. Other plans in a preliminary stage or nearing a final phase were: barn; residence alteration; development of a proposed Devils Tower Recreation Area; Tower Trail; bridge approach reconstruction.
HUGE ADVANCEMENTS WERE being made to the national monument, in ways that benefited both visitors and employees. Ideas for a DTNM expansion, to include the Little Missouri Buttes and timber land to the west and north of the Tower, were being proposed and discussed. Such an enlargement would have a recreational benefit, and protection from fire and insect infestations would be simplified if the NPS had jurisdiction over the area.
Mr. A. J. Macy, postmaster at Moorcroft, started the public discussion in June of 1935 by writing to Joyner and asking if the NPS was at all interested in enlarging the DTNM property. Macy knew of a number of people who would get behind a movement to bring this idea to the attention of the federal government. Joyner explained the NPS stand on the matterNPS personnel could not start such a movement and there were no funds with which to buy landbut also spoke of his personal enthusiasm for such a project.
Associate Director of the NPS A. E. Demaray visited the DTNM in early July and made the determination that the only feasible way for the NPS to receive control of the proposed expansion area was as a Recreational Area Unit.
Joyner attended a meeting with various delegations of commercial clubs from Wyoming and South Dakota where he was witness to what he termed their "unselfish enthusiasm"  for DTNM expansion. A committee for the enlargement project secured support from the Resettlement Administration, the NPS, the Department of the Interior, the congressional delegations of Wyoming and South Dakota, Wyoming State government, Crook County government, and landowners adjacent to the National Monument.
Since there were no funds at that time to purchase the proposed expansion area the idea had to be tabled until a request for money could be brought before the next session of the U. S. Congress.
THE FEDERAL RELIEF program Emergency Conservation Work, commonly referred to as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), had been established to relieve the acute condition of widespread unemployment and help restore the country's depleted natural resources with an orderly program of useful public works.
Robert Fechner, the first Director of ECW, wrote:
Four government departmentsWar, Interior, Agriculture, and Laborwould cooperate in managing the program, and the Veterans Administration would be responsible for selecting the veterans' quota of enrollees for the program. There were special provisions in the ECW for veterans, and older locally-enlisted men would be employed as foremen. It was the job of this advisory council to mobilize the unemployed and to get the men quickly to work on the projects which would not only enhance the present value of national resources, but which would also increase the usefulness of these resources for future generations.
When first established, the CCC's primary concern was the nation's forest land, which included a prevention policy for forest fires, floods, soil erosion, and plant disease and pest control. The groups were to construct, maintain, and repair paths and trails in the national parks and forests, along with similar work in some state forest lands. These goals were greatly expanded in scope to include helping in historic excavations and stabilization of buildings and ruins; building roads, trails, park buildings, campgrounds, picnic areas, picnic tables, fireplaces, signs, exhibits, and other park structures; erecting telephone poles and electric lights; and helping during natural disasters.
The national program called for enrollees to be paid $30 a month, with assistant leaders earning $36.00 and appointed leaders $45.00. $25.00 from each paycheck would be sent directly to the families of those serving in the CCC camps. Room and board were included in the enrollees' term of service. The cumulative positive effect of the outdoor life, good food, and healthful work on enrollees showed an average weight gain of more than seven pounds per man during a six-month period (from 14,000 enrollees selected at random from all sections of the United States).
In June of 1934, Joyner made an application for a camp of approximately 200 men. Equipment began arriving early in April, 1935, and on June 16 construction started on a permanent CCC camp at the Tower, Camp NM-1-W. In July members of Company 8444 stationed at Guernsey, WY, readied the camp for occupation.
The first group of workers, Company 3851 from Oklahoma and numbering 190 men, arrived at DTNM the first week of August, 1935. These men came from northeastern Oklahoma, and Joyner considered them readily adaptable to the work at the Tower. They were stationed at DTNM until transferring out in late October, some to the Grand Canyon camp in Arizona and some to Guernsey.
The next unit, Company 2555 from the Fifth Corp area in southern Kentucky, began work at the Tower in November. This group of 219 enrollees was mainly from the coal-mining region, and did not prove quite as adaptable as the Oklahoma crews. Joyner noted that there were a number of extremely young men in the Kentucky group, which he felt had a bearing on their adjustment. "Theirs is an altogether different psychology than we have previously met, but by the end of the month they had become acclimated to life in the camp and to the work projects and had gained an idea of the methods on the various projects." 
One of the first projects for this group of enrollees was erosion control to correct conditions created by domestic stock grazing on the national monument and the trails utilized by those animals. They also carried out maintenance work on insect control based on recommendations by Mr. Evindon of the Forest Service.
The administration building was completed with CCC help in late 1935. It included a museum room, two offices and an information booth, restroom for the offices, small quarters on the second floor, and a full basement with furnace, restroom, and a museum workshop. Joyner felt strongly that the new amenities would be a positive addition to the Tower experience: "This building, with museum exhibits in place, will be, and has already proven itself, a great asset to this area." 
Grading and graveling of the entrance road from the boundary to the headquarters area was completed, the improved road surface being credited in part for the increased number of visitors to the parking area, it being much easier to traverse than the previous gumbo road.
Some of the CCC men assisted with ranger, naturalist, and guide services at the Tower. With their help there was someone on duty at the parking area from the middle of July to the end of the tourist season.
By February 1936, even though the previous three months' weather had slowed the work progress, most of the fine grading around the parking area and the administration building had been completed, and trees and shrubs had been transplanted. Flagstone walks were under construction in the headquarters area, in connection with the parking area and administration building landscaping.
Joyner felt good progress had been made on the remodeling of the custodian's residence, despite the inclement weather, and that the cribbing and rock rip-rap which had been installed along the river put them in good position to handle the spring thaw. (Cribbing is a crate-like structure of wire or wood filled with rocks; rip-rap is a foundation or sustaining wall of loose rock.) The rock structures on the Belle Fourche River were to help prevent loss of land occupied by the CCC camp and possible loss of part of the entrance road by the river overrunning its banks. A corrugated culvert was installed on the entrance road, with the old wooden box culvert removed.
Eight CCC men became ill with the mumps and were sent to Fort MacKenzie in Sheridan, Wyoming, in the company ambulance on March 8, 1936. The ambulance left the road on a straight-away approaching a bridge, killing four and seriously injuring the others. The cause of the accident remained unknown at the time of Joyner's incident report in June.
On April 1, 1936, most of the CCC enrollees returned to their homes in Kentucky, with only 66 men remaining in camp. On April 14 nearly 100 Ohio enrollees moved into camp. Joyner said "The new 'rookies' are very good workers and most of them have had at least some high school work; just the reverse of the past two groups."  Another 40 men from Ohio arrived in July.
An open house, held at Camp NM-1-W on May 10, 1936, was attended by 497 visitors and deemed very successful by Joyner.
The CCC national office had a national newspaper called "Happy Days" and many of the CCC camps throughout the States had a camp newspaper. The Tower camp had a mimeographed paper published bimonthly throughout most of the camp duration.
Company 2555 produced "Monument Mirror," announcing in the August 10, 1936 anniversary edition: "Cleanliness is our motto, friendship is our creed, and hard work is our job."  The Tower camp newspaper had six office staff members, six reporters, and found much material submitted from within the ranks of the enrollees.
Camp papers were complete with sports columns, editorials, cartoons, jokes, local news, and the popular "We Wonder" column, the "We Wonder" heading followed by such questions like "Why Fred Martin likes Barlow Canyon?," "Why they call Delbert Storms the Lemon Drop Kid?," and "Where Bill Hendrickson stays Saturday nights?" 
An editorial by a Mr. Brandenburg addressed the thoughts of some of the homesick enrollees:
The "Locals" column carried tidbits of information of all sorts, but generally about camp business. One list included "All K.P.s have been rated to thirty-two dollar men," "New fire buckets have been issued to all the barracks," and "The White Tail fire is the sixteenth fire the Devils Tower camp has fought this season." 
The CCC crews were of consistently good help when local firefighters needed assistance. A contingent of men from the CCC camp at Orman Dam in South Dakota were on their way to a fire near Newcastle when they were rerouted to a fire in the Bear Lodge Mountains north of Sundance. This July fire would be recorded that year as the worst in the Bear Lodge since 1878, burning 8,200 acres over almost a week before being extinguished by a heavy rain.
The DTNM camp provided assistance with a fire north of the Tower and one on Tower Divide during that same time. Crook County News, the Hulett newspaper, reported:
In October of 1936, 175 men25 Wyoming men, the rest Oklahomansunder the command of Lt. R. S. Barker, Company 3887, arrived at DTNM and spent some weeks getting their camp in shape, then were put to work at forestry clean-up, moving and transplanting trees, bank sloping, and cribbing.
They prepared for fire duty, learning fire-hazard reduction, forest fire fighting, and fire pre-suppression. Regular crews, of 25 men each, could be ready on short notice to leave for the scene of a fire.
Company 3887's camp newspaper was titled "Devils World." In the January 14, 1937 issue the editor related that "The boys have been finding out, the past few days, just what winter in Wyoming can be like. They have been forced to stay in several times lately. January the fifth's temperature of twenty-five below zero was taken advantage of to hold a fire fighting lesson for all enrollees in the recreation hall." 
"Devils World" had columns similar to the ones in the "Monument Mirror," but titles changed. "Devils World" offered "Oklahoma Outburst" and "Things The Camp Would Like To Know:" "Why our first cook after taking a ten day leave came back twenty pounds underweight? Why Hair Mayhew swore off the women last week? Why 'Wimpy' Jones runs to 'Rex' McElwain every time 'Rex' gets a letter from Claremore? Ask him." 
An editorial in the January 14, 1937 issue describes well what the CCC men hoped to accomplish:
Educational programs varied considerably from camp to camp but, throughout the Corps, more than 40,000 illiterate young men were taught to read and write. Elementary subjectsreading, writing, and arithmeticwere available at the Tower camp, along with algebra, typing, journalism, and Wyoming and Oklahoma history.
Other subjects offered at one time or another during the camp occupancy were auto mechanics, blacksmithing, taxidermy, leather craft, woodworking, and first-aid. One session of classes included aviation mechanics, business management, and business arithmetic, while another session offered blueprint reading, cooking and baking, and a diesel engineering class. A lecture course in conservation, taught by Joyner and reported by his students as "without a doubt the outstanding educational achievement,"  was compulsory for all enrollees.
Recreation was provided with softball, baseball, volleyball, tennis, and boxing. Company 3887 had six outstanding boxers who participated in tournaments, winning six out of eight first places in the sub-district tourney. The pool table in the recreation hall was popular, as was the ping pong table. Once a week a silent moving picture was shown, and men were granted leave on weekends.
Company 3887 helped complete the gasoline and oil house, procured logs for guard rails along the highway to the national monument, and built concrete piers for supports for the guard rails, among other projects. This group also built ninety-two picnic tables that would be enjoyed for years to follow.
The first large group to utilize the tables were picnickers at the Old Settlers' Picnic on June 20, 1937. Over 4,500 people attended the annual meeting of the Northern Black Hills Pioneer Association, as did practically every man from the Company. They socialized throughout the afternoon, enjoying speakers, music provided by the Gillette, Wyoming High School Band, vocal numbers, and a baseball game.
Shortly after, the CCC camp at the Tower was disbanded, with Company 3887 leaving in September.
WITH ALL OF those young men living at DTNM throughout the CCC years, it is hard to imagine that not one of them tried to climb the Tower, but there is no record, no documentation found, to indicate that any of the men even attempted to reach the top.
The first recorded or verified climb of the Tower since Babe White's ascent in 1927 took place on June 28, 1937. Fritz Wiessner and Lawrence Coveney from New York, and William P. House from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, were the first to free-climb the Tower using alpine mountaineering methods. All were members of the American Alpine Club, based in New York City, an organization founded in 1902 and devoted to mountaineering, climbing, and issues concerning both activities.
Special permission for the climb had been obtained from the NPS office in Washington. Wiessner and Coveney had been at the Tower the previous summer, but had been unable to get permission then to make a climb.
Wiessner, the lead climber, was born in Dresden, Germany, in 1900, immigrated to America in 1929, and became a U.S. citizen in 1935. He started climbing with his father in the Austrian Alps, and at age twelve climbed the Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany. Before climbing the Tower he had climbed not only in the Alps, but also in the Himalayas, and the Rocky Mountains of Canada, United States, and Mexico. His climb of Mt. Waddington, in British Columbia, was featured in the December 14, 1937, issue of Life magazine.
Coveney, considered by Wiessner to be an experienced and highly technical climber, had climbed extensively although the Tower would be his first major ascent. House, a graduate of Yale College of Forestry, was a member of Wiessner's party in the Waddington climb, and had climbed in the Alps, the Tetons, and Mexico.
Before attempting their Tower climb, the three stopped near Harney Peak in the South Dakota Black Hills and climbed two of the spires of The Needles to prepare them for the more difficult Tower climb. They arrived at the Tower in late afternoon, spent some time in a reconnaissance of the south side of the Tower, and completed their plans for the ascent.
At 6:30 a.m. the next morning they made their way over 200 feet of the talus slope to where the columns rise almost perpendicularly at the base. By 11:18 a.m. they were on the top and spent thirty minutes collecting samples of the flora and rocks as requested by Joyner. They took pictures and noted points of scientific interest, then began the descent and were met by Joyner at the base of the Tower at 1:30 p.m. Both ascent and descent were made by the same route on the south side of the Tower, now known as the Wiessner Route. (Pseudo Wiessner, the Extended Wiessner, and Fritz's Fantasy were established and named by later climbers.)
Wiessner, Coveney, and House all agreed they had completed a difficult climb. Wiessner added that there were few places in the Alps as difficult to climb as one part on the Tower where they had to traverse a chimney for eighty feet. Wiessner led the climb, as a certain technique is required for climbing up cracks and he was an expert. Coveney said, "Wiessner looked over the crack when we got to the overhanging ledge, and said 'I think it goes.' I wasn't so sure, but Wiessner led us up in as magnificent a piece of mountain climbing as I have ever seen." 
Only one piton was used in the climb, and Wiessner later thought it unnecessary and wished he had not used it. A piton is a small iron pin, with an eye on one end. When the piton is driven into a small crack in the rock, a carabiner (snap ring) is fastened into the eye, and a rope threaded through the carabiner. With the alpine mountaineering climbing method, no actual climbing is done with the aid of the rope or pitonthey serve as safety aids in the case of an accident.
The climbers wore hiking clothes with wool socks and low canvas climbing shoes with heavy hempen soles, which gave them sure footing and still allowed them to feel the crevices with their feet. They each carried a safety rope made of the best quality Italian hemp, tested to one-and-a-half tons and able to stretch 20 to 25 feet, acting as a restraint for the climber in case of a fall.
Joyner wanted to hear what was found on the top of the Tower. The trio had gathered specimens for himand took photos, paced off measurements, and constructed a small cairn in which they placed an empty grapefruit juice can and their names. They reported the following to Joyner:
Joyner met the climbers and gave them water immediately upon their descent. Among those congratulating the climbers was Dollie Heppler, whose first husband, Willard Ripley, constructed the ladder for the 1893 climb. No announcement of the Wiessner climb had been madethe event was an exciting surprise for the visitors who happened to be at the Tower that day.
Wiessner said of the Tower climb:
Wiessner gave his climbing shoes, a piton, a carabiner, and a short piece of rope to DTNM, all of which remain in the museum collection.
Wiessner continued to make a name for himself in the climbing world. In 1939 Wiessner led an expedition to K2 in the Himalayas. K2 is Earth's second-highest peak and among the top three hardest climbs in the world. With a 28,250-foot summit and surrounding weather that is significantly colder and less predictable than on Everest, reaching the top of K2 and coming down alive is every experienced mountaineer's dream.
Wiessner's 15-member K2 ascent team was reduced to five by Camp VII, and three days later it was just Wiessner and his Nepali guide. They were only 656 feet from the summit when the guide became consumed with fears of waking the angry gods of the mountain. Wiessner recounted that, although the difficulties of the climb had been passed and the remainder was straightforward, he turned back in deference to the wishes of his guide, who feared offending the gods by being on the summit in darkness.
They descended to camp, both men losing their crampons on the way; during the night the snow froze into ice, and an attempt to reach the summit the next day proved fruitless.
No one would come close to the top of K2 again until July 31, 1954. Had Fritz Wiessner made it to the summit he would have been the first man to set foot on a 26,000-plus foot peak, eleven years before the successful summit of Annapurna (a mountain in Nepal, the tenth-highest peak in the world). He would also have been recorded as conquering the world's second tallest mountain without the use of supplemental oxygen, a feat 40 years ahead of its time.
Wiessner once wrote, "What you maybe offered in a moment all eternity will never give you back."  He may have had regrets about K2, but his accomplishments were remarkable, and found a place in the history of mountaineering. Wiessner remained an active climber up into his 80s and died after suffering a series of strokes at age 88.
THE IMPULSE FOR another group of climbers to scale the Tower was somewhat explained in an article by Harrison Butterworth in Appalachia: "The part-superstition that 'what man has done, man can do' acts as a challenge to mountain-climbers as strongly as it does to the rest of mankind, and the excellent climb made on Devils Tower, last summer, by Fritz Wiessner and his party, plainly invited an attempt to duplicate it." 
Jack Durrance received permission for a team to climb the Tower, from the NPS Washington office early in the summer of 1938. (Until 1960, climbing the Tower required permission from the Director of the NPS and the Secretary of the Interior.) The climbing party included Butterworth, Dick Durrance, and "Chap" Cranmer. However, by the beginning of September, their appointed time for the trip, Dick was detained elsewhere and Cranmer had a problem with his wisdom teeth.
Two other men traveled to the Tower with Durrance and Butterworth, but Joyner felt obliged to refuse climbing permission for them, since they had not been approved to climb by the NPS director. For most of one afternoon the men worked their way around the Tower until Durrance determined where to make the climb. It became evident that the only feasible routes would be in the southwest corner, repeating, or parallel to, the Wiessner ascent. Butterworth noted:
Durrance and Butterworth started climbing at seven o'clock the next morning. The pitches to begin with were short but fairly steep. The plan was to climb near the Wiessner route, and another couple of pitches brought the men to the top of the pillar which runs beside and immediately to the south of the long column of the Wiessner climb. Durrance was pondering their next move when a storm broke out and wet the ropes. They lowered themselves in two rappels and spent the night in the basement of the ranger station, where they could dry their ropes.
At daybreak they were back on the Tower, and Durrance began the climb from a slightly different point, at the base of the leaning column. Here, the short slope appeared less severe than the rest, and led up to another section of column leaning diagonally against the side of the Tower. This time they achieved the summit, establishing what has become the classic Tower climb, the Durrance Route.
Durrance was born in Florida in 1912, and grew up in Vermont and Bavaria. He attended Dartmouth College as a pre-med student and in 1939 founded the Dartmouth Mountaineering Club. He completed his medical training in 1943, and sometime in the 1940s he left the climbing world to devote time to his family (he and his wife had five children), medicine (he became chief of the pulmonary division at the Denver Veterans Hospital), and his passion as an iris horticulturist. He served as president of the American Iris Society and co-founded the Denver Botanical Gardens. Durrance passed away in 2003.
THE PROPOSAL, IN the fall of 1938, to seal coat the entire roadway and parking area of the national monument may have been the smoothest contract work ever completed at the Tower. Bids were opened on September 2, 1938.
The contract was awarded to Northwestern Engineering Company of Rapid City, South Dakota, and approved by the Secretary of the Interior, September 29. The Notice to Proceed was mailed on September 30, and acknowledged by the contractor on October 3.
A gravel pit had been selected and approved on private property about four miles north of the DTNM entrance, and the contractor, at his own expense, had already set up a gravel crushing and screening plant and had started to crush gravel. The crushed gravel was processed through the plant twice to screen out all the dust.
Northwestern began actual oiling operations on October 4 and the entire seal coat was placed by October 8. The contractor was required to maintain the seal coat for ten days, concluding the contract on October 18. Joyner's report stated that Northwestern had first-class, up-to-date machineryall the asphalt tank trucks were equipped with internal oil-burning heaters which issued hot uniform asphalt at all times with no delay.
The contract price with Northwestern was $4,049.00 on a unit price basis. Available funds for the work were $4,250.00 and the amount actually paid the contractor was $4,091.39. Excellent work completed in record time and under budget.
IN NOVEMBER OF 1937 Joyner received a letter from John P. Harrington, ethnologist with the Smithsonian Institution, asking for information for a report he was preparing regarding Indian stories about the Tower. Harrington's first paragraph began a correspondence that would last a year and a half: ". . . Will you please be so very good as to answer all the questions immediately and to get your answers into the mail at the earliest possible moment. . . . Do not wait to find out about things you do not know well, but send back what information you know as quick as you can get it in the mail, please."  Harrington gave no reason for his hurry to receive information.
Joyner responded with a three-page letter in early December of 1937, answering point by point each of Harrington's questions, with a postscript of his own: "We would be pleased to incorporate in our library any material concerning the Tower which appears in print."  Joyner made every attempt, and took every opportunity, to gather material pertinent to the Tower.
In March 1939, after months of correspondence, Joyner typed three single-spaced pages of exposition on Harrington's questions about Baking Creek, Burnt Hollow Creek, Redwater Creek, Ice-box Canyon, and their locations relative to the Tower, and clarified the climbing route of the 1938 Durrance climb.
Joyner ends his letter:
The Tower records do not indicate any further correspondence, or if a copy of the article Harrington was writing ever reached DTNM.
ONE JOB APPROVED under the CCC program, but not started before the camp was disbanded, was a four-and-a-half mile nature trail proposal. The idea was resurrected, with some revision of the original plan, and a new completion date of June, 1940.
One mile of the proposed route followed an abandoned, undeveloped truck trail, and portions of the proposed trail in other areas would follow old game and stock trails. The plan called for ten simple log signs to be placed at important points on the trail, noting vistas, the junction with the trail around the Tower, and permanent geological features.
The narrative of the proposal gives a clear picture of what the national monument staff hoped to accomplish with the nature trail:
A nature trail with so much to offer seemed a worthwhile goal for a national park area. The trail was constructed and its official name became "Red Beds Trail."
Last Updated: 23-Jan-2009