Fort Clatsop
Administrative History
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Charles L. Peterson, 1960-1964

Charles Peterson, superintendent of the memorial from 1960 to 1964, had the difficult task of turning the memorial into a functioning unit of the National Park System. Superintendent Peterson became an integral member of the planning team when he came on board in 1960, taking over final negotiations for land acquisitions, completing management and design plans, and supervising site construction. The master plan completed during his term developed goals for the memorial and established park objectives in developing memorial programs. Peterson was also responsible for hiring the original staff for the memorial. Peterson hired Burnby Bell, who served as the Clatsop County Historical Society corresponding secretary for many years and was influential in the building of the replica in 1955, as the memorial's historian. Many tasks occupied Superintendent Peterson through the site development process. He worked with the Western Office of Design and Construction in designing a visitor center and administrative offices, and designing a new employee residence to supplement one house acquired through lands acquisition He oversaw the development of visitor center exhibits, including purchasing exhibit artifacts and materials; creation of a historic structures report for the fort replica and restoration of the structure according to the report; construction of park roads, parking, and interpretive trails; the development of the memorial library; and the establishment of the memorial's cooperating association. He supervised the development of the memorial's infrastructure, completing the evolution of the site from a locally-owned historic site to a functioning unit of the National Park Service. In his 1963 annual report, Peterson reported that the transition from a construction phase to an operational phase was completed. [1]

During 1964, Superintendent Peterson worked on securing a suitable water supply from an outside source. Well-testing on site proved inadequate for the park's water needs. Superintendent Peterson also began planning for expansion of memorial parking and the auditorium. Park visitation in the first operating year of the visitor center exceeded expectations and the year-old visitor center was already requiring improvements.

In July 1964, Charles Peterson accepted a promotion to Fort Smith National Historic Site in Arkansas. His replacement was the superintendent of Gran Quivira National Monument in New Mexico, James M. Thomson.

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Last Updated: 20-Jan-2004