SEVENTEEN AND A HALF MILES UPSTREAM FROM THE TOWER is Keyhole Dam and Reservoir, completed in 1952. It takes its name from the ranch where the dam site crosses the Belle Fourche River in Crook County, Wyoming. Keyhole is a part of the Pick-Sloan Missouri River Basin ProjectCheyenne Division, a program initially authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1944 which approved the general comprehensive plan for the conservation, control, and use of water resource in the entire Missouri River Basin.
The Belle Fourche River is a tributary of the Cheyenne River, which in turn is a tributary of the Missouri River. The dam and reservoir is a multi-purpose unit, providing supplemental storage for the Belle Fourche Project located in South Dakota, limited irrigation in Wyoming, flood control, enhanced recreation, and fish and wildlife conservation. Keyhole State Park encompasses 6,740 acres of land, with the reservoir adding 9,394 acres of water surface and 62 miles of shoreline.
The NPS does not possess water rights for maintaining minimum flows in the Belle Fourche River. The two-plus miles of river within and adjacent to the national monument boundary, while ostensibly under NPS control, are subject to the acts and decisions of organizations and associations far removed from the Tower landscapethis river regulation has affected riparian habitats and geomorphologic processes in the national monument.
ON JULY 16, 1952, Jan Conn and Jane Showacre became the first all-woman technical climbing team to summit the Tower. Conn climbed often in the Black Hills and had climbed the Tower with her husband, Herb, in 1948. At that time she was the first woman atop the Tower since Linnie Rogers climbed in 1895.
Showacre had spent time in the mountains of western Canada and Conn had watched her practice climb on the cliffs along the Potomac River near Washington, D. C. Both felt ready and able to summit the Tower.
Conn recalls, "I was elected to lead the first pitch because it required a long reach, and being one and three-quarters inch over five feet I was three-quarters of an inch taller than Jane." 
Showacre, known for her healthy appetite, led another pitch later in the climb. Conn followed with their pack that she claimed held food enough for six people. Conn inched her way upward with much grunting, pushing, and heaving. She thought Showacre looked concerned when she finally reached the top of the crack, and sure enough, Showacre said, "Golly, I hope the oranges didn't get squashed." 
After rappelling down and reaching the base of the Tower where a crowd had gathered, they took pictures and gathered their gear. However, they heard one man remark as he turned to leave, "That climb must not be very hard if they can do it." 
Since 1937, when Fritz Wiessner made the first technical climb of the Tower, about eighty people had made it to the top. The number of people enjoying recreational and technical climbing, and people climbing the Tower, were on the increase and it was becoming more popular every year.
IN EARLY 1954, progress continued in gathering material and compiling data for a proposed climbing exhibit at the DTNM Museum. Correspondence between the Tower and the Park Naturalist of the Black Hills served as a conduit for information about what the exhibit should include, and the usual questions asked by visitors that the exhibit should answer. This list of questions included: Who first climbed the Tower? Who was Babe White? Who made the first ascent using rock climbing techniques? Have women ever scaled the Tower? How many people have climbed the Tower? Which side of the Tower is climbed? What various routes have been used? What type of equipment is used? Does anything grow on top of the Tower?
Another Soil and Moisture Conservation project was underway to convert small gullies into grassy waterways, aid stabilization of sheet erosion by planting grasses, and prevent damage from runoff during intense rainstorms. The grasses recommended for planting were buffalo grass, blue gramma, western wheat, and switchgrass, in equal proportions in the seed mixture. The gullies in the eroded site would be plugged by small dams to help stop further erosion until the grasses could take root and grow as ground cover.
Willow cuttings, planted among the tetrahedron structure on the Belle Fourche River, would help stabilize the stream bank. The cuttings would come from willow stands within the DTNM boundary.
On June 14, 1954 a memorandum went out to several NPS department heads from the Assistant Director of the National Park Service: "We have received the following teletype, dated June 11, from Acting Regional Director Lloyd, Region Two: 'Superintendent McIntyre, Devils Tower, advises frame residence No. 2 partially destroyed by fire starting about midnight in vicinity kitchen. Mrs. [Dollie] Heppler, wife of Operator General Frank Heppler, found dead from undetermined cause, possibly heart failure. Mr. Heppler suffering minor burns and leg injury incurred in fighting fire. Taken to nearest Federal physician and possibly hospital by Mrs. McIntyre, a registered nurse.'" 
Mid-month Superintendent McIntyre sent a detailed report on the incident to the Regional Director, while Heppler remained at the hospital in Deadwood, S.D. recuperating from his injuries. McIntyre concluded his report:
BY APRIL 1955 plans were underway for a Tower anniversary celebration. The Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration Committee for DTNM held a dinner meeting attended by ninety people from several communities in eastern Wyoming and western South Dakota. Three NPS officials were scheduled to address the meetingJohn S. McLaughlin, Acting Regional Director; H. Raymond Gregg, Regional Chief of Interpretation; and Superintendent McIntyre.
McIntyre described the DTNM construction program for the coming year and covered general development plans for the area. McLaughlin spoke on the willingness of the NPS to cooperate with the local residents in promoting a suitable observation of the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of DTNM. Gregg outlined some of the things the NPS was in a position to help with in promoting the celebration and suggested ways the local communities could get additional publicity and recognition for the Tower during the anniversary year.
Several projects and activities were affirmed as easily promoted by both the NPS and the residents. The value of a postage stamp issue was expressed. Gregg encouraged the local group to concentrate on trying to obtain an issue related to the Antiquities Act rather than the Tower alone, since it was usually easier to get recognition for a matter of broader national awareness, and the June date of issue would stimulate interest in the Tower at the beginning of the travel season.
Raymond "Pappy" Bernd, chairman of the committee and the meeting, confirmed that the committee already had assurance that both an Antiquities stamp in June and a Tower stamp in September were to be issued. Whether Bernd misinterpreted some correspondence or whether he was correct Gregg did not know at the time.
Bernd also informed the gathering that the Wyoming State Highway map for 1956 would have the Tower on the cover. There was also consideration of radio and television programs, using people such as ex-Governor Nels Smith and State Senator Al Harding, whose prominence would hopefully capture attention for the Tower. Gregg's report on the dinner included a list of a few individuals present at the meeting and why he was noting their attendance:
MISSION 66 WAS a ten-year federal program for national parks development, its culmination to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the National Park Service. When Conrad Wirth became director of the NPS in December 1951 the parks were experiencing booming travel numbers but deteriorating resources. He initiated work on a Mission 66 proposal in 1955, and the program began in 1956.
Outmoded and inadequate facilities were to be replaced with improvements necessary to meet expected visitor demands, but designed and located to reduce the impact of public use on a park's unique natural features. At DTNM this mandate meant relocating several areas and activitiesovernight camping, the evening campfire program, the administration building, and utility and residence areasfrom the Tower base to the banks of the Belle Fourche River on the south side of the Tower. The purchase of 73 acres of land adjacent to the national monument along the entrance road gave the NPS room to move the selected facilities.
A new outdoor amphitheatre, with seating for 200, was built between the new campground and picnic areas. Campground facilities were upgraded, and more sites added, going from 15 units to a 52-unit campground. The crowded picnic area near the Visitor Center parking area was vacated for the new 30-table location, easily reached from the new campground road.
By the end of 1957 the new campground and road were in use, as were the administration building and new residences. The access road had been widened at the entrance station and new parking areas at the prairie dog town were completed.
Many other projects were proposed to use Mission 66 fundsmodification of the entrance bridge location and realignment of the entrance road; relocation and reconstruction of the Tower Trail; construction of new trails; new parking areas; increase in fire protection facilities and an enlarged fire control program; construction of a new Administration Building; enlargement of the Tower museum; roadside exhibits; and more personnelwith a total cost of approximately $622,200 for the ten-year program.
Meanwhile, McIntyre left DTNM, and James F. Hartzell began work as the national monument superintendent on January 6, 1958.
The new campground hosted a Canadian couple traveling with their two children. In late April, during an unseasonable cold spell, they arrived to camp at the Tower. Hartzell wondered if they wanted to travel farther south where they might have better weather in which to enjoy their camping trip. The husband said, "Ranger, we winter in the middle of Saskatchewan. This is summer,"  and they stayed four more days.
Last Updated: 23-Jan-2009