Standing Witness
Devils Tower National Monument: A History
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Chapter V

1941 — Japanese attack Pearl Harbor
1943 — Oklahoma on Broadway
1945 — U.S. drops atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
1948 — State of Israel created
1950 — Korean War begins

TWO AERIAL VIEWS OF THE TOWER, ONE OF THEM SHOWING the Little Missouri Buttes in the background, were given to Devils Tower National Monument (DTNM) in January of 1941 by Charles Belden, a noted photographer of Pitchfork, Wyoming. Joyner thought the picture with the Buttes the best one he had seen, and felt it would be of value in the interpretive work at the national monument. Tower personnel also had the opportunity to see a bobcat which had been trapped to the west of the Tower. A bobcat presence on national monument grounds had been noted, but it was not possible to determine which of the three possible species of lynx it might be. The trapped animal was identified as Lynx uintah (mountain bobcat).

Joyner reported the election of Mrs. Anna Richards, wife of the DTNM clerk Dwight Richards, as president of the local Homemakers' Club. He had a strong belief in the importance of staff and their families being involved in the local communities; he knew this created ties and understandings that might not be accomplished otherwise.

The Tower staff said goodbye to Gallatin C. "Judge" Tate who had been General Foreman of the first CWA crew in the fall of 1933, and had worked with Joyner over the years on the improvements at the national monument. With the apparent cessation of the ERA projects in the Tower area, Tate and his family moved to California where jobs were more plentiful. He had a job within a week. Tate had successfully passed the Park Ranger examination and the Handyman examination, and Joyner regretted not being able to utilize Tate's skills at DTNM.

Attending a NPS conference in Rocky Mountain National Park in February of 1941 gave Joyner some needed perspective about the DTNM. He reported to the Director:

A great deal of material which was purely of an informative nature, but which will be of assistance in the future, was acquired; but probably best of all was the opportunity for the pooling of ideas and the broadening of vision—an opportunity for which is certainly lacking in an area so isolated from other units of the Service as is the case here. I returned with a thousand good ideas which I would like to put into effect; however, as happens subsequent to any conference, a great many of these good ideas will not be carried out because of the presence of immediate affairs. [1]

A new ERA project was to begin in early March 1941, and Mr. Baggley, Area Manager of the WPA (Works Progress Administration) Division of Operations, visited the Tower to determine what action Crook County might need to take to ensure that county people certified to work for the WPA were employed. Joyner found himself in the position of assisting the County Commissioners by reopening the project—the county was reluctant to spend the money necessary to operate a WPA project and DTNM could carry the load for the county. This project would expend the balance of the 1940 ERA funds, allowing for completion of some jobs that would be difficult to finish under the regular park budget. It also would supply jobs to local workers who otherwise had no income. Joyner recognized the need existing among residents of the county.

Ben Colvin, who had worked intermittently at the Tower for about eight years, became the new ERA project foreman. Joyner felt fortunate to have someone in that position who was familiar with the area, and resumption of the program began with unpacking tools, fixing up the trucks which had been stored, and taking care of other small details necessary to begin work. By the end of March, the project—demolition of the CCC camp cook shack—was nearly completed, with salvageable materials ready to be hauled away.

During the month of March, Joyner made a trip to Sundance to give a few complimentary DTNM entrance permits to county officials and to visit with people who had expressed interest in helping form a natural history association at DTNM. Joyner also reported, "The Mountain Blue Bird returned on the 19th, Robins were first seen on the 29th, as were two or three Mourning Cloak Butterflies. On the 30th the first group of Pasque Flowers was found in bloom and the Buttercup were ready to open. The grass on the river bottoms is starting to spread a green carpet." [2]

On March 19, 1941, the Headquarters Troop of the Fourth Cavalry from Fort Meade, S.D., spent time at DTNM on routine maneuvers. Captain Rose, the commander of the company, made plans to bring the entire troop for an all-night stay in April. Joyner helped him find a location which would not disturb any protected features of the national monument and still provide adequate facilities for the troop.

During the month of April, the Tower received about five-and-a-half inches of precipitation—wet snow in the early part of the month, and rain during the last week. The Belle Fourche River was the highest it had been for several years, but did not reach flood stage. Clerk Dwight Richards, who prepared the April report, stated, "People are saying 'this is more like old times' here, meaning, as we understand it, more nearly when the land, proverbially speaking, 'flowed with milk and honey'" [3]

Joyner traveled to Laramie to make the selection of temporary rangers for the coming season, and while there spoke with two members of the University's faculty, Mr. Otto McCreary and O. A. Beath. McCreary was considered a foremost authority on Wyoming avifauna, and donated a copy of his book, Wyoming Bird Life, to the Tower library. Beath, noted for his research on selenium, gave DTNM several pamphlets titled Selenious Areas.

Back in Sundance, Joyner attended a tourist informational school sponsored by State of Wyoming. The school was to familiarize persons such as service station attendants, waitresses, and other summer help with the features of the state. He presented a review of the geological features of the Sundance area, as he said, "attempting to 'make geology live'. Of course, Devils Tower received our special emphasis and Kodachrome slides, especially those showing [the Tower] in sunset dress, received comment." [4]

In September 1941 Chief Electrician Seasholtz, of the Coordinating Superintendent's Office of the NPS, and accompanied by Lineman George Mullan, spent a few days at the Tower installing a short-wave radio for experimental use in communicating with Yellowstone National Park. The two men also spent time checking the DTNM buildings' electrical systems, eliminating some hazardous grounds within the wiring in the office and residence.

James Perry Wilson, artist, and Raymond DeLucia, preparator from the American Museum of Natural History New York City, visited the Tower to gather information for the mule deer group exhibit being developed at their museum. They were choosing interesting areas for the settings for various mammals, and selected the Tower environs to use for the mule deer. The men prepared studies and collected material to be used for the background and foreground of the exhibit. The foggy weather throughout late September and early October delayed their work and extended their stay.

THE FOGGY WEATHER also created a more hazardous situation when George Hopkins dropped by parachute to the top of the Tower on the first day of October, 1941.

With America's involvement in a war looming, the story about a parachutist trapped on top of the Tower gave readers a lighthearted respite from the gloom of current news. The country's leading newspapers, including The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times, and local papers in Wyoming, kept the Tower on the front page for nearly two weeks.

George Hopkins arrived in Rapid City, South Dakota, from his home in Texas to stage a parachute-jumping show at the Rapid City airport, where he would try to reclaim the world's record for the greatest number of jumps in one day. Hopkins had served as a pilot with the Royal Air Force, and assisted in the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940, transporting Allied troops across the English Channel. He was well-known for his ability as a stunt-pilot, but Hopkins also held many parachuting records, including the most jumps recorded (2,347), a jump from the highest elevation (26,400 feet), and the longest delayed jump (20,800 feet).

Hopkins met with Earl Brockelsby, who owned Reptile Gardens, and Bob Dean, owner of KOTA, a local radio station. Brockelsby was working with the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce on the air show to raise money for a hospital.

Two weeks before, Brockelsby had bet Hopkins $50.00 that he could not parachute to the top of the Tower. Hopkins liked to prove that the impossible was possible, and his attempt would generate publicity for the air show.

Once Hopkins jumped to the top of the Tower, he planned to remain there for an hour and a half, just long enough for Dean to put the story on the radio. After Brockelsby had gathered some reporters at the Tower, Hopkins jumped from 800 feet above the Tower summit and 200 feet to its side. Although he had to partially deflate his chute to reach his mark, he won the bet, landing on the one-and-a-half-acre top of the Tower.

George Hopkins and his parachute atop the Tower.

His success achieved one goal of the three men—to show that an experienced jumper could land exactly where he wanted to. His pilot, Joe Quinn, then made another pass over the Tower to drop 1000 feet of rope for Hopkins to use to descend. But the rope slithered down the side of the Tower and landed on a ledge below the top. The hour and a half turned into half a day, then two days, and became front page news throughout the States.

"This started out as a publicity stunt, but it backfired, then wildfired," said Brockelsby. "I'm worried about George." [5]

The jump was made without the permission of the NPS. Edmund B. Rogers, Regional Coordinator of the NPS and Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, said, "This is the kind of stunt we are not sympathetic with. We of the park service hate to jeopardize our men's lives for a stunt somebody thought was smart." [6]

Joyner was informed about what was going on and saw Hopkins on the summit about 8:15 a.m., shortly after Hopkins landed on the Tower. He tracked down Brockelsby and discussed the situation. The flaws in their plan for Hopkins' descent were obvious to Joyner.

The rope that the pilot Quinn had dropped to the top was to be used by Hopkins to pull up an axle, sharpened on one end, a pulley, and a sledgehammer. Hopkins would drive the axle into the top of the Tower, tie the rope off, and use the pulley to lower himself down the side of the Tower. When the rope landed on a ledge over the side, Hopkins needed a new plan.

Quinn headed back toward Rapid City, landing at the Spearfish airport to tell local pilot Clyde Ice, "There's a boy on Devils Tower." Ice said, "I didn't believe him. Until I flew over the rock and saw Hopkins there." [7] Quinn went on to Rapid City, and Ice became the primary pilot helping Joyner.

Another rope and a grappling hook were to be dropped to Hopkins that first day by pilot Ice, in the hopes he could pull up the first rope, get it untangled, and make a descent on his own. Ice figured a Tower drop posed some unique problems due to sudden updrafts that could cause problems for his 65-horsepower plane. So, when he flew in to drop the second rope, he cut the motor, glided close to the Tower while his flying partner tossed out the rope, then restarted the engine. Hopkins got the first rope to the top, but the mass of tangles was going to take some time to sort out.

Hopkins would be spending the night on the Tower, so Ice returned just before dark to drop blankets, food, a tarpaulin, and a note promising they would get him off the next day. A storm moved in, and the temperature dropped. Local rancher John Woods, watching from the base of the Tower, said, "A fog cloud moved in and just cut him [Hopkins] off from sight. Sure would have made me feel lonesome up there." [8]

Joyner learned that Hopkins did not know how to use rope hitches around the body, and had planned to work his way down a rope using a hand-over-hand technique. Notes that Hopkins threw down from the top indicated that he was doing okay, but that his arms and legs felt weak. Those two factors led Joyner to a firm decision: Hopkins would not be climbing down by himself.

The next day Ice dropped a bearskin-lined flying suit, a megaphone, and a medium rare T-bone steak. Ice became a lifeline for Hopkins, braving the updrafts and crosswinds to glide within feet of the summit, and drop packages to the top of the Tower. The doors on Ice's plane were removed to facilitate tossing the packages out. Neva Esmary or Allen Kohan rode with Ice to manage the deliveries, and every drop they made fell near Hopkins.

BY THAT AFTERNOON over a thousand sightseers, photographers, press and radio reporters had gathered at the base of the Tower. News wires buzzed with the saga of "Devils Tower George," with Time and Newsweek running feature stories on the episode.

Joyner had many suggestions given to him on the best, easiest, safest, most cost-effective way to rescue Hopkins. He also had many suggestions that were ridiculous, poorly thought out, or increased the danger to Hopkins or the would-be rescuers. Helicopters were still in their experimental stage (a production helicopter would not be built until 1942) and Joyner's discussions with pilots deemed a Coast Guard rescue plane unsuitable. Joyner thought the most feasible option was to send a team of climbers up to guide Hopkins down.

The Goodyear blimp, Reliance, which was based in Akron, Ohio, was offered to the NPS for use in the rescue. L. E. Judd, public relations director for the Goodyear company, thought the blimp the most practical and safest method of getting Hopkins down, and the plan received approval from the president of the Goodyear board of directors, T. W. Litchfield.

With no landing fields available en route for the blimp, it would be accompanied by a 12-man ground crew with a portable mooring mast. Veteran balloonist J. A. Boettner would be chief pilot, and assisted by three other Goodyear company pilots. The helium-inflated blimp would have to stop to refuel every 600 miles, its speed limited by the pace of the ground crew.

The airship could land on the top of the Tower or hover above it if the air was quiet. If a wind was blowing it might be necessary to drop Hopkins a rope ladder, or perhaps a rope harness, and haul him up to the cabin.

However, there was one condition: Goodyear would not send the blimp unless they could be assured that only the blimp would make the rescue. NPS officials reasoned the five-day trip for the blimp, with no surety that it could then make the rescue, was not the most prudent use of their time and energy.

Ernest K. Field, a ranger from Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, and Warren Gorrell, a licensed climbing guide from Colorado, were Joyner's first choice to attempt a rescue climb. In a story detailing the Hopkins rescue published in the December, 1941, issue of Trail and Timberline, Field makes note of their options:

Only two feasible climbing routes exist on this towering laccolith. The first was pioneered by Fritz Wiessner in 1937, and involved negotiating a perpendicular crack about six inches in width and seventy feet in length. Although I have never seen the famous 'Mummery Crack' on the north face of the Grepon, and know no more about other famous climbs than one reads in books, Wiessner's climb of this crack must have been one of the most outstanding rock climbing achievements in climbing history. In other words, this route was far, far, beyond our ability.

We therefore turned our attentions to the second route that was pioneered by Jack Durrance in 1938. The key to this climb is a sixty-foot vertical pitch about half way up the Tower involving two adjacent vertical cracks about three feet apart. This route seemed to be less difficult than Wiessner's. [9]

After climbing to the base of the 60-foot pitch, and trying to ascend the pitch without success, they established a fixed rope and descended.

They learned from Joyner that Durrance, at that time attending Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, had sent a wire to DTNM volunteering his services if they were needed. After discussing the circumstances, everyone came to the general agreement that Durrance should be summoned.

The next day was spent securing a 30-foot wooden extension ladder to the Tower to shorten the sixty-foot pitch, and save time for Durrance when he began his climb. The following day they did more work on and above the ladder, and Frank Heppler, the DTNM mechanic, made up some heavy iron spikes. These could be used in the deep vertical cracks that were too wide and deep for an ordinary piton.

Drawn to the drama at the Tower by two-inch headlines in the Wyoming newspapers were Paul Petzoldt, a veteran Grand Teton climber, and Harold Rapp, a seasonal ranger from Grand Teton National Park. They arrived in a snow-covered car, and as Rapp remembers, "When we got to Devils Tower a sleet storm had gone through the area. The Tower was nothing but a sheet of glass." [10]

Durrance made it to the Tower about midnight on Sunday, October 5, amid sirens and flashing lights in a cavalcade of police and highway patrol vehicles. He and Merrill McLane, a fellow Dartmouth student, had traveled by plane to Chicago. However, storms in the Midwest had canceled all flights out of that city, so they boarded a train bound for Denver. Henry Coulter and Chappell Cranmer, friends of Durrance and McLane, joined them in Denver, where they continued to the Tower by car. The rescue was set for daylight.

At 7:30 a.m. on Monday Durrance took the lead up the Tower, tied onto a 125-foot rope with Petzoldt and Rapp. Field, Gorrell, and Cranmer were on a second rope, and McLane and Coulter on a third. The weather was cold and damp. Durrance climbed facing the wall, utilizing friction holds on the sloping column faces. As he progressed he hammered wooden pegs and metal pitons into the rock, thinking that they might have to lower Hopkins down the side of the Tower. The string of climbers followed him to the Meadows. By 4:15 p.m. all eight were on the Tower, enjoying with Hopkins the lunch Mrs. Joyner had prepared for them.

Field's account of the half-way point of the rescue tells it well:

It was an interesting contrast to step on to the top of the Tower after having climbed on the vertical walls for several hours. We all had the impression of being on an island in the sky. The top resembles an acre and a half of any typical Wyoming prairie with a few rocks thrown in. It is covered with sage brush, grass and cactus plants.

Hopkins, of course, was glad to see us. He seemed entirely nonchalant and not a bit worse for wear. He was very well equipped. During his five day isolation he had been dropped everything that he needed, and from the looks of the top of the Tower, quite a lot of things he didn't need. Some of the things in evidence were several blankets, a tent, a fur-lined flying suit, boots and helmet, gloves, hot water bottles, chemical heating pads, a portable stove, coal and wood, a flashlight, an axe, a camera, and about enough food to outfit a country store. [11]

At 4:45 p.m. they started the descent, coming down the Tower in a series of secured rappels. Rapp and Durrance stayed behind to clean up debris, then followed the others. Hopkins had no experience in climbing, but the rescuers later gave high praise to his quick grasp of rappelling techniques. The last part of the descent was made in the glare of floodlights from a sound equipment truck belonging to the radio station KLZ out of Denver, and spotlights from two highway patrol cars. Joyner's report captured the scene:

Through cooperation of NBC representatives, sufficient extension cord was produced to enable us to carry the flood light almost to the base of the cliff. We must admit the dramatic effect of talking to and hearing the climbers on the side of Devils Tower who were enveloped in darkness or semi-gloom and whose position we could not see; the effect of the lights on the side of the Tower; the sudden appearance as from nowhere of a climber sliding down the rope into the beam of the spot light; and the appearance and constant murmur of the crowd gathered around several large warming fires. [12]

All of the climbers reached the base of the Tower by 8:20 p.m. Hopkins had been stranded on top for six days.

Hopkins, Brockelsby, and Joyner met reporters who were waiting to interview "Devils Tower George." Hopkins stated he had wanted to "let the people know just what a person can do with a parachute if they really know their parachutes." [13] He wondered about the great fuss over getting him off the Tower, when he felt the real feat was his landing on the top.

In his 20-page, single-spaced typewritten report on the event, Joyner said he marveled at the stamina and cheerfulness of Hopkins, was disgusted at the curiosity seekers who hoped to see a tragic event, and amazed at the lack of drinking by members of the press during the week. He further noted:

Hopkins' condition was remarkable, I believe, in view of the hazards which he could not escape. The wind blew continuously; he was unprotected from the weather except such protection as he could get on the lee side of a small boulder; his blankets were sopping wet; he had gotten little rest or sleep; and he had had very little drinking water. It is my belief that a normal person would have been affected by the thoughts of being marooned, but Hopkins nature is such as to make him take things as they come. It was the same trait which enabled him to master the art of rappelling on the descent and which no doubt enabled him to make a successful parachute landing on top of Devils Tower. Casual observers or people from a distance have referred to him as 'cocky'. I never once saw anything which indicated cockiness. He was seriously aware of the fact that he had endangered the lives of his rescuers and of the pilot who delivered his food and supplies, and I am convinced that he would have attempted any means of getting himself off the top of the Tower which we would have permitted or ordered, even though he realized that to do so might be the equivalent of committing suicide, rather than to have caused harm to come to anyone else. [14]

Joyner gleaned some insights about Hopkins' character. At one point in the week Joyner wanted to air-drop some traps to Hopkins to gather some scientific specimens from the packrats, mice, and chipmunks on the top. Hopkins replied he would hate to trap the rodents because he had been feeding them and they were pets to him. Joyner also noticed that the bottle of whiskey dropped to the top of the Tower the first day was untouched when Hopkins was rescued.

Joyner organized the rescue and kept order on the ground with the help of the Wyoming Highway Patrol, the Boy Scouts, and rangers from other parks. He estimated that 7,000 people visited DTNM during the week of the incident.

The cost of Hopkins' rescue, approximately $2,000 and paid by Brockelsby, included all local bills, all services, and the expenses of the rescue workers. Joyner felt any remaining costs to the government were minimal, and of little consequence.

Hopkins participated in the air show in Rapid City, with Quinn as his pilot, but was forced to quit after thirteen jumps. He endured hard landings due to high winds, and a close call in his third jump, when his main chute folded into two sections instead of ballooning open, and his emergency chute tangled with the first. The chute finally twisted free, but he landed unusually hard, battering his ankles and bruising him from head to toe.

During World War II Hopkins enlisted in the Army and helped train paratroopers until he was put in charge of the experimental work of making drops behind enemy lines. After the war he flew for the Department of the Interior and the Mexican Federal Police, and staged air shows for charity.

His shows specialized in, among other things, crashing planes and wing-walking. Then he quit flying and jumping: "I was doing an air show in Mexico one day in 1958, and I was flying on my back about sixty feet off the deck when I suddenly asked myself what I was doing there. No special problem—I wasn't in any kind of trouble. I just landed and walked away, and I haven't been up since." [15]

"WAR! WE AT Devils Tower pledge ourselves to make such savings and adjustments as we are called upon to make; to keep on smiling and to do the job set out for us. Whatever sacrifices this might involve will be small compared to that made by many others. We pledge to do what we personally can, in the same spirit." [16] Joyner's report for the month of December 1941 opened with a strong statement of support for the America newly involved in World War II.

He had just come back from an annual leave, spending most of the time with family in central Nebraska. During a vacation stop in Chicago, where he visited the Field Museum and Art Institute, and a visit to the NPS Regional Office in Omaha, he queried people about the Tower. Of those he talked to, only one was unfamiliar with DTNM, and that was a soldier who had been on maneuvers during the week that Hopkins was stranded on top of the Tower. The publicity generated by the stunt certainly raised the awareness of the national monument throughout the country.

In January of 1942, Dwight Richards left DTNM for assignment to Yellowstone National Park, leaving just two permanent employees at the Tower, Joyner and a general mechanic. The NPS had started a new type of organizational function in 1937, one which Joyner felt would free up Tower personnel to take care of Tower business, and leave the NPS business to the new Coordinating Superintendent's staff in Yellowstone National Park. The change was due to the regionalization plan of the NPS, created for better coordination between the activities of the field offices and Washington offices. The reorganization moved slowly through the NPS, the authority of the regional directors increasing only when such action was deemed justified by the Washington office.

Joyner mentioned in his January report the installation of a new electric generator replacing a unit ". . . which was wasteful of fuel and oil, and of repair parts and time, besides being undependable." The existing lines were renovated allowing for the use of the new three-wire system, and the telephone system was also checked over. "In doing all of this the lines were placed on poles, which while not the most satisfactory method, is more so than the previous installation on trees." [17]

Although there was severely cold weather in the month of January (for nine days the maximum temperature was below 32° F; for eight days the minimum temp was below 0° F), DTNM enjoyed an increase of visitation of almost 100 percent from the previous year. From conversations with visitors to the national monument Joyner felt certain that the Hopkins episode would definitely be a factor in increasing travel to the Tower that next summer.

At Mrs. Joyner's suggestion and invitation, the local Homemaker's club sponsored a benefit supper and card party for the Red Cross at the Joyner home on January 24. The community had already raised more funds than the original quota set for the end of 1941, and also more for a recent "War Fund Drive." The party was a success, with the amount being raised that evening alone exceeding the original quota for the whole area.

Joyner spent most of February revising his office routine to function under the new NPS arrangement, where a minimum of office work would be done at the Tower. Files had to be condensed and reorganized to make a smooth transition.

He made two trips to Sundance—one to attend the monthly Chamber of Commerce meeting, and the other to meet several officials about local National Defense efforts. No plans were underway, except for the collection of waste materials and an emphasis on rubber conservation.

The Tower Tavern about a mile outside the boundary of the national monument had recently changed ownership. Mr. and Mrs. Mason Roberts planned to tear down most of the existing buildings and build a small frame store and residence. They did not plan to develop any tourist facilities, but Joyner wondered about the competition with Grenier's store, which had been in operation for over 15 years. He also expressed dismay that the Roberts' renovation would not include the elimination of old sawmills on land close by their site, and which could be seen when driving into DTNM.

He concluded his report:

I personally was quite thrilled to watch a bobcat stalking a cottontail rabbit on the parking lot area on the 7th. It was the first time I had seen such an animal not in captivity. The rabbit outwitted the cat by utilizing the shelter of the large boulders. All during the month we saw tracks of the cat around headquarters, and the morning of the 24th found where it had the previous night cornered, dug out, and eaten a rabbit. Can it be that the cat will stay closely here because of the large number of cottontails present? I am wondering what the effect will be on their numbers. Incidentally they (the rabbits) were taking all the preliminary steps during the month to assure the preservation of the species. . . . [18]

Joyner combined his March and April reports, citing several circumstances for the change: planning for the upcoming travel season; the incapacitation by illness of general mechanic Heppler, the only other permanent employee, which necessitated changes in Joyner's schedule; the extremely high fire danger in early April; the death of John Thorn, a former custodian of DTNM; and Joyner's involvement with the Civilian Defense activities of the community.

George Hopkins, the parachutist, had joined the Army Air Corps, and the story of his sojourn atop the Tower and subsequent enlistment was carried in newspapers around the state, with some nationwide coverage in papers and magazines. The story and accompanying photograph were being circulated by the Wyoming Department of Commerce and Industry, who were hoping to increase visitor numbers to the state in general, and the Tower in particular.

Travel to the Tower in March and April of 1942 may have shown a decrease from the previous year, but Joyner was quick to point out that this was not a true reflection of visitation to the national monument. Those months in 1941 included visits by large groups of soldiers—if these were not averaged in, travel would actually show an increase in 1942. He also notes that the number of states represented each month was fifty percent greater than the previous year.

Because of military enlistments, staff was in short supply throughout the county. Joyner worried about fire protection during the tourist season, especially since he anticipated greater travel to DTNM as a result of the Hopkins episode, and the staff was already short-handed.

With potential employees in the vicinity the least for many years, Joyner was unable to employ an Emergency Fire Guard. Since Heppler was not working, Joyner deferred other chores and attended to the fire danger. During this spring period the Forest Service staffed their fire lookout on Warren Peak in the Bear Lodge Mountains, one of the earliest openings of the lookout on record.

A fire danger level of "High" was declared about the middle of April, due to lack of precipitation, high winds, heavy grass cover from the previous year, and uncontrolled fires burning just four miles from DTNM. However, precipitation in the latter days of the month alleviated the danger for several weeks.

Heppler had been laid up for a few weeks because of a back problem, but in true Joyner style they worked the situation to their advantage. Once Heppler could be up and about he reported to the office, where he worked on fire control planning, and spent time training in order to substitute as custodian of DTNM, learning the necessary office work and reports. By mid-April Heppler returned to his regular work, and while Joyner noted that the training upset the usual schedule, he felt the increased value of Heppler to the national monument more than compensated for the disruption.

The death of John Thorn, known as "the dollar-per-month" custodian of DTNM, meant the loss of a good friend, both to the national monument and to Joyner. He and Heppler served as pallbearers at Thorn's interment in the Sundance Cemetery on April 23.

Joyner attended a Civilian Defense and Fire Training School at Yellowstone National Park from May 18 to 23, and he felt he would be able to put the benefit of the school to good use in the local community, by his renewed perception of the war and its problems.

In June the Standard Red Cross First Aid Course began classes for DTNM personnel, including the wives. During the course Joyner gave a series of discussions and demonstrations on Civilian Defense. He felt the presentations gave the community a different concept of active involvement; that any savings made—in preventing fire, reducing waste of staff and critical materials, taking care of equipment and health—was as much a part of the defense program as a study of bombs, gas, and aerial attacks.

Joyner reported on a new publication:

'The Big Horns Edition' of The Sheridan Press is an annual publication, devoted to the various attractions of this region and to 'pointing with pride.' Distribution of this publication is wide-spread. This year it has a cover featuring the Devils Tower. It is interesting to note that the Devils Tower has been annexed by the Big Horn region; that in the past it has been claimed by the Central Black Hills; that we personally do not care where it is but are pleased to know that it is of such importance; that some of the local people will be further perturbed in that they have resented its 'being moved to the Eastward' and they will now resent its 'being moved to the Westward.' [19]

He also noted the assistance given by the prairie dogs in controlling the spread of sweet clover on the national monument:

The past years, as well as this spring, have been favorable for the spread of sweet clover which has sprung up wherever sand or gravel from the Belle Fourche River has been used on the road, parking area, and trails. Some time has been devoted to controlling it. Where the entrance road passes through our prairie dog 'town' we did no control work; the rodents apparently have learned of the shortage of man-power and have decided to help. They have pretty well cleaned up the weed along that road—an area averaging four feet in width on both sides of the road for over a half mile. We will remember their assistance next time we find them burrowing underneath the road! [20]

The eleventh annual Old Settlers' Picnic on June 21 had lower attendance than previous years, partly due to the war, but primarily due to a storm in the area that morning. Stormy Sundays during May and June greatly reduced the number of area residents who were regular visitors to the Tower.

Most of the non-local visitors to the Tower over the summer of 1942 were persons traveling as a result of the war—either for the armed services or workers in some war industry. If the national monument had not had visitors attracted by the Hopkins' event, Joyner estimated their visitor numbers would have been about 40% of the 1941 figures.

On September 2, Sgt. George Hopkins of the Paratroops, Fort Benning, Georgia, made a visit to DTNM with his wife and friends. The "Man on the Tower" took his first opportunity to walk the trail around the base of the Tower, accompanied by Joyner. Hopkins was serving as an instructor in the Army.

The 1942 Report of the Secretary of the Interior encompassed reports from all Directors, including Newton B. Drury, Director of the NPS. He commented on the declining visitor numbers throughout the National Park System, with the realization that the Service faced the necessity of adapting itself to rapidly changing conditions. "Uses of park areas not contemplated in peacetime are being undertaken, even to the point of sacrifice of park values where clearly necessary and with no alternative, as part of the cost of victory." [21] The NPS stood squarely behind the war effort.

Drury also said:

As trustee for many of the great things of America—areas of outstanding natural beauty, scientific interest, and historical significance—the National Park Service has realized its obligation to harmonize its activities with those relating to the war, aiding wherever possible, and striving to hold intact those things entrusted to it—the properties themselves, the basic organization trained to perform its tasks, and most important of all, the uniquely American concept under which the national parks are preserved inviolate for the present and future benefit of all of our people. [22]

Parks in Hawaii and Alaska were closed to visitors, and many parks were closed to sightseeing and charter bus services. Actual military occupation of some units, notably Fort Pulaski in Georgia and Cabrillo in California, were among the 125 permits issued by the Department of the Interior to the War and Navy Departments and war agencies to make use of NPS lands, buildings, and facilities.

Emergency organization plans were developed for each park area, and fire schools were conducted throughout the park system for training instructors in building and forest fire suppression, control of incendiary bombs, defense against sabotage and other war hazards, law enforcement, protection of visitors, and conduct of operations under war conditions. Park superintendents like Joyner were given authority to adjust rates and services to meet the rapidly changing war conditions.

In August a picnic was held at the new Lake Cook Recreation Grounds in the Bear Lodge National Forest, where the Forest Service gave a demonstration of equipment and their six-man fire suppression crew. Joyner explained the suppression model he had developed that showed the effects of people becoming overly-excited at a fire. He also verified how a small amount of water could put out a large fire if the water was properly used, thereby conserving water and adhering to a wise-use policy. More training was given during a fire school for the community.

On August 24 a lightning storm resulted in a full-fledged fire two days later on a ranch north of the Tower. Joyner mentioned several things about the fire—first, that the action, efficiency, and organization of the local people who responded to the fire, which was in the Tower protection zone, without a doubt kept it from being a major disaster. The time and effort spent on the fire school and demonstrations paid off in a big way. Joyner underlined this point: Had there not been the interest in the fire school, people to fight this fire would have been lacking, and they could not have been hired for any amount of money. Joyner felt that several successful areas of the fire fight were directly attributable to Tower staff demonstration efforts and the fire school hosted by DTNM.

Under his "Visitors" heading of the October 1942 report Joyner notes:

Special: There seems to be nowhere else to mention our visitors by plane. Several times every day we are visited by 4-motored army bombers. These visits are in two classes—(1) those traveling overland, and (2) those making the Devils Tower their objective. Apparently the proximity of the Bomber School at Rapid City, South Dakota, accounts for these planes. On a number of occasions 10 or 15 minutes were spent circling the Tower and Little Missouri Buttes. Generally the planes arrive singly, but several flights, with as high as 10 planes, have been observed. [23]

In mid-October work began on cleaning up several dumps on private land adjacent to DTNM, and saving any material deemed suitable for salvage. The old CCC dump, located on private ground, had long been rumored to contain much of value, as was a dump started by gravel contractors who had worked on the Tower road several years prior. Just by looking at the dumps it was impossible to determine how much material might be in them that had been covered over. Joyner wanted to work the dumps and settle the questions.

After asking several local organizations for assistance, Joyner secured the help of the Boy Scout troop in Sundance to work the dumps, and C.D. Roberts of Sundance donated a truck and driver. A dozen Scouts, their Scoutmaster, the truck driver, and Joyner spent a long Saturday at the sites, eventually hauling away three tons of salvage iron, rubber, copper, and brass.

Heppler had been on sick leave since September 14. In early December he had back surgery and would be unable to return to work for at least six months, and then only light duty. In early January Walter Bren took over Heppler's position, working as a per diem handyman while Heppler was on sick leave.

During the latter part of March 1943 the Belle Fourche River reached its flood stage. Joyner recorded the water level as being the highest in the years he had been at the Tower, and nearly as high as the river was in 1927 when it washed the bridge out. The improvements made to the river channel from 1927 to 1933 proved their value, as there did not appear to be much damage from the rising water. Further on downstream an old steel bridge at Belle Fourche, South Dakota, was washed out.

However, when the water subsided it was discovered that the flood, along with the ice breaking up earlier than usual in January, had caused major damage to the water gaps in the fence across the river. Joyner estimated that six or eight man-days would be spent repairing the water gaps and damaged sections of fence. He stated that the problem was heightened by 1200 head of hungry yearling cows that were eyeing the lush grass on the national monument side of the fence.

Joyner's March report included a section about private lands. A block of about 10,000 acres consisting of at least five ranches had been purchased by Earle Ikes, who currently lived and worked in California, but had previously, along with his wife, been a resident of Crook County. The tract was mainly in the river valley to the northeast of the national monument, and bordered DTNM along the central half of the northern boundary line.

Joyner went on to say:

I do not anticipate any problems arising from this change in ownership. In passing it is interesting to note a trend in land ownership which has taken place in the eleven years I have lived here. At first Belle Fourche River valley was generally occupied by small land-owners, although the big outfits had occupied it in the early settlement of this country when there was 'free range.' Today, the valley from a point 13 miles south of Hulett, 8 miles northeast of here, is occupied by 6 large outfits with the exception of less than a half-dozen small land-owners. This is sure to produce a lasting, and we believe beneficial, effect on the economy of this portion of the county. We believe it will simplify certain angles of administration of this area and our relationships in the local community. [24]

During the war years Joyner continued to travel throughout the county to meet with the County War Board, the local rationing board, the County Agriculture Transportation Committee, and other agencies associated with the war effort. He encouraged better fire protection in the area, agreeing to help the local Forest Ranger set up a Forest Fire Fighters Service.

The Wyoming Legislature had adjourned without strengthening what Joyner considered to be very inadequate fire laws. The Forest Service had hoped that new legislation advocating stronger laws would be introduced. Since the majority of timbered land near DTNM was privately owned, it was not subject to any form of protection, organized or otherwise. Fires generally attracted a force of volunteer fire-fighters who had fair success despite little organization. However, Joyner believed that most fires could be prevented by acceptable methods of forest utilization, by proper pre-suppression measures, by care with small "necessary" fires and, if a fire did occur, by combating it with a more efficient first attack and complete clean up after.

A map of the DTNM Fire Protection Zone and adjacent areas was completed during the month of March. It showed hazard types, topography, roads, trails, sawmills, slash, abandoned mill sites, and buildings. Aerial photographs, the Geological Folio, and Joyner's intimate knowledge of the area contributed to the map, which was included in the DTNM Fire Atlas.

Sawmill operations created fire hazards throughout the county. An estimated twenty-seven million board feet of lumber were cut in Crook County in 1942. Eleven and a half million of this was on Forest Service land. The balance, fifteen and a half million, was cut from private land within a radius of less than ten miles from the Tower. The cut in 1943 was expected to be as great or greater, and would be closer to the Tower.

An extensive sawmill began operation at the end of March a quarter mile from the southeast corner of the DTNM boundary. C. A. Brown, a successful mill operator, had two and a half million feet of logs contracted and was working on the purchase of other tracts. Several of the tracts were close to the national monument, and Joyner felt the slash, left behind after the trees were cut, complicated the Tower's fire-protection program. He also felt a hazard existed with the slabs, edgings, and sawdust that was not burned, but piled onto grassland near the mill.

Brown, however, was quite fire conscious—there had been no problems with his other mills in the area, and he was quite willing to have his crew help with fire-control when necessary. Joyner thought this was compensation enough—there were eight trained and able-bodied men at the mill whose experience would make them invaluable for the first attack on a fire. For the first time there would be an "outside" crew readily available to aid the national monument in a fire-fighting effort.

Herman Schouten filled in for Joyner during the spring of 1944 while Joyner attended a conference in Yellowstone National Park. Schouten's memos to Joyner were the stuff of everyday life at the Tower:

4/25/44 — Went after the mail [three miles from headquarters to the post office]. Drove the cattle off of the reserve. Found three gates open. Started to change the batteries in the light plant. 8 hrs.

4/28/44 — Went after the mail and read it. Spent the balance of the morning splitting wood. Hauled two loads of dirt from parking area to the corral in the dump truck. 8 hrs.

4/29/44 — Went after the mail. John and Dick helped me put in the river crossing. Just finished one side. Got most of the cattle out but still have some horses to get out. 10 hrs.

5/1/44 — Monday Went after the mail, . . . read the mail had 4 visitors from Canada. A Mr. Smith called from some where and wanted permission for a Sunday school picnic the 14th or 15th of May told him OK, done some more odd chores about the place went to Hulett and got tick shots at 2pm, pumped water tried to find some dry wood for the house and it's still raining. 8 hr.

5/6/44 — Went after the mail started the pump John and Dick rode the horses down the rest of us went in the pickup repaired the fence north of the entrance to the river drove about 15 head of calves out Very smoky out side Mrs. Hobson tells me it's a fire up in Montana. Run out the horses this P M took old iron to river got a load of sand for play ground put up sign (no left turn), looks pretty much like rain so the kids and I put a load of wood up to the dwelling after supper. 10 hr. [25]

IN OCTOBER OF 1945 a short two-paragraph letter from Edmund Rogers, Coordinating Superintendent at Yellowstone National Park, was sent to all NPS custodians asking them to submit a comprehensive statement detailing the difficulties the new federally-mandated 40-hour work week created for their parks, and recommendations for corrective measures. Joyner responded with a seven-page, single-spaced typewritten letter in early November.

The post-war 40-hour work week being implemented at jobs around the country, along with the removal of gas rationing, meant an increase in visitation at national parks and national monuments. While the NPS wanted to offer the same shortened work week to its employees, Joyner made it very clear that in some national monuments that would be an impossibility:

40-hour week: I believe it to be a good move. . . . If whole classes of people are coming to the parks because of the shortened workweek, it seems that those of us operating the parks should enjoy the same opportunity to change our way of life. In an isolated station such as this there are a number of advantages—chiefly that we will be able to attend to personal affairs and shopping without having to take leave so much. It has in the past been a major cause for dissatisfaction among employees, altho' it was oftimes not recognized. It will, when finally worked out, increase the morale here, I believe. The shortened work week will require that we have a definite schedule of work and adequate personnel and eliminate the old problem of a lot of stand-by time which restricted the activities of the personnel. [26]

His next few sentences fully explained the problem at the Tower: "Of course it is assumed that nothing more than mention is needed as to the fact that operation of the Devils Tower is not limited to 40 hours per week. It varies from 70 hours in the winter to 105 in the summer." [27] With only two permanent employees—himself and the maintenance man—augmented by seasonal rangers who were almost completely tied down to the job of collecting fees at the checking station, the 40-hour work week was not feasible at DTNM. (In Joyner's September 1940 monthly report, he mentioned a new fee of $0.50 per vehicle being instituted at DTNM the previous year, and that the area residents' unhappiness with the higher fee had resulted in a decrease in travel to the Tower. By the 1940 travel season, though, both local and tourist visitor numbers were back on the rise, and the entrance fee at the Tower was increased by 15 percent.)

He then went on to explain routine and non-routine expenditures of time, why a staggered schedule would not work with the open-ended visitor days at DTNM, and the problems inherent in the increased number of tourists who wanted a more interpretive visit than just looking and walking around the Tower. Joyner covered several protective issues that the limited number of personnel at DTNM were responsible for—fire fighting, management, and suppression, both within and outside the national monument boundary; vandalism; and the safety of the visitors themselves—some of whom managed to climb up the talus slope or the boulder field and needed help to find the way back down.

Joyner could not finish the letter without expressing his dissatisfaction with the current arrangement of the DTNM paying two-thirds of the salary of a clerk in the office of the Coordinating Superintendent. The office, in Yellowstone National Park 400 miles away, took care of paperwork generated within the NPS, but as Joyner noted for Coordinating Superintendent Rogers:

We heartily favor being under a Coordinating Superintendent's direction for the services of various technicians and specialists in certain types of procedure save us much time and many mistakes. All that we object to is the cost thereof to our appropriation. If the offices were closer together so that more of the routine work load could be taken from us, we would gladly pay for that we received.

Joyner closed his in-depth detailed response with a short, succinct paragraph, "I am unable to divorce the subject of the 40-hour week from a general survey of what we are attempting to do. Now that the war is over, I no longer think it feasible for us to attempt to operate as we have tried to do in the past." [28]

A report submitted by Joyner several months later in 1946 leaves one feeling that not much had improved in the interim:

By the maintenance of the few physical improvements at a standard where they in no way distract the visitor as he is deriving inspirational or scientific values; by providing only such additional facilities as meet this test; and by providing personnel who, although they remain in the background, are ever present to help the visitor increase his enjoyment, or increase his knowledge of natural phenomena, and thereby gain greater inspiration. It has been proven here that the presence of such personnel greatly increases the length of stay and amount of appreciation. The prospect of larger numbers of visitors with but a ragged skeleton of a force and our consequent inability to attain these two objectives gives me a feeling of sadness because of our lost opportunity. [29]

In 1947 the Joyner's oldest child, Joan, had just one more year before high school. For Joan to attend high school while they lived at the Tower would mean that she board in Sundance, or spend the school year with relatives in Nebraska. Neither of those choices suited her parents, and on February 20, 1947 the NPS accepted Joyner's resignation.

The Joyner family moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where Joyner became a partner in a stamp and coin collecting business. After closing that business, he was a night watchman, an archeological crew supervisor, and then a university hall guard while a student at the University of Nebraska. He graduated in June 1953, with a BS in science, and in 1957 returned to NPS employ as a regional museum curator. In 1960, surgery revealed that he had cancer of the small intestine. By 1964 the cancer had spread to his liver, and he died on May 3, 1965. One note to his family read, "Newell played out his role well, left many friends, and made more of himself as a human being than the majority of men ever achieve." [30]

RAYMOND W. MCINTYRE and his wife, Grace, moved to the Tower in 1947 to begin his appointment as custodian of Devils Tower National Monument. Grace would later begin work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, banding birds.

McIntyre was born in North Dakota and raised on a ranch near Great Falls, Montana. He taught school for seven years, and worked 11 seasons for the Forest Service. It was not until he took a job as a ranger in Mt. McKinley National Park in Alaska that he even saw a national park. (The original Mt. McKinley park was designated a wilderness area and incorporated into Denali National Park and Preserve in 1980.)

His first experience with the park system was in a very primitive, remote area of Alaska. At one point he went seven months without a haircut and saw only six people the entire time. As the ranger with the furthest north station, he used dog teams to patrol. McIntyre's station was 125 miles from Fairbanks and he got mail when planes flew over and could manage to hit the woodpile.

After two years in Alaska, McIntyre returned to Montana, and served as a Park Ranger at Glacier National Park prior to moving to the Tower.

DTNM RECEIVED A few requests each year to climb the Tower, but even fewer climbers actually reached the top. Climbers and equipment had to be vetted and approved prior to coming to the Tower. However, climbers no longer had to apply to the Washington office—each national park or monument was to determine the veracity of the qualifications proffered by the applicants.

Jan and Herb Conn wrote to DTNM for permission to climb the Tower in March 1948. McIntyre sent word to the regional director: "As this will be the first attempt by a woman to climb the Tower, except by means of the ladder, I am referring the matter to you. An early reply would be appreciated as they have requested that their letter be answered as soon as convenient." [31]

Reference letters for the Conns recapped their climbing experience, and once their equipment list was deemed satisfactory, they were free to climb the Tower. On July 2, 1948, they summitted the Tower, making Jan Conn the second woman to stand on top, the first by using technical climbing skills.

The Iowa Mountaineers from the State University of Iowa in Iowa City started the climbing permission process in May of 1948, and made their climb on the 22 of August. Sixteen members, one of them a woman, stayed overnight on top of the Tower.

A news director for a radio station in Iowa had earlier broadcasted a story about the students' plan to climb the Tower, saying one of the students was a girl, and if she made it to the top, she would be the first woman to do so. A listener in Oelwein, Iowa, advised the news director that a woman had already conquered the Tower, and when the news director wrote for confirmation of that fact, McIntyre advised the station that two women had already climbed the Tower. The Iowa student, Bonnie Fisher, was the third "girl" to summit the Tower.

ON JANUARY 1, 1949, the title "custodian," as applied to the manager of a national monument, was changed throughout the National Park Service system to that of "superintendent." The duties were the same as always, but the new title conferred a greater degree of respect, and better represented what the manager's job entailed.

A Soil and Moisture Conservation Master Plan, developed in the spring of 1950 for the national monument, addressed two locations of unstable soil conditions—one area of rill erosion and one of stream bank cutting on the east bank of the Belle Fourche River.

A rill is a very small brook or rivulet that cuts into exposed soil. The rill eroded area, which covered about ten acres, was in the center of the national monument area near the then-existing south boundary Soil type, southern exposure, and thin topsoil, along with a road location near the base of a steep slope all contributed to the severe accelerated erosion of the area. A vegetative cover of native grasses, protected by a light mulch of native hay, would provide an economical stabilization of the erosion.

A more complex problem was the stream cutting area. The narrative portion of the Master Plan gave a historical look at what the Belle Fourche River was like in the early years, and what had been done in the intervening years to prevent and protect the unstable areas. The study concluded:

The revetment structure erected on the river bank along the south boundary of the national monument is effective at this time. The revetment is a rock basket structure and was erected by the Civilian Conservation Corps during 1936 and 1937. The structure represents considerable investment and has been most effective in securing bank stabilization and preventing land destruction in a vulnerable area of the national monument. The revetment is a major installation . . . well located at a major bend of the Belle Fourche River and has afforded good protection to national monument lands as well as decreasing velocity of flood waters. [32]

Within two years of this report, a dam upstream from the national monument would completely change the ways of the river, and the problems of stream cutting and flooding would become a thing of the past.

Devils Tower at a glance. . .

Custodian: — Newell F. Joyner 1941-1947

Custodian/Superintendent: —
Raymond W. McIntyre 1947-1958

(In January 1949 the title "custodian" was changed to "superintendent.")

Visitors: — 279,726
Climbers: — 46

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Last Updated: 23-Jan-2009