Depending on Another Park: The Early Years
The establishment of the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park was the first step in a long process. The acquisition of the area by the National Park Service solved questions of jurisdiction, but barely broached the fundamental issues of modern park management. Before the park could meet the standards of the agency and live up to the expectations of the public, a great deal of work needed to be accomplished. Besides basic problems, the new park lacked the kind of interpretation for which the Park Service was famous. Bringing it up to the standards of the agency and keeping it there would be a long and arduous task.
The rotunda and its environs were in poor shape when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill establishing the national historical park in 1966. In the thirty years since the dedication in 1936, most of the efforts of its managers had been directed at maintenance in response to crisis. The facility presented problems since it opened; the most damaging was the intermittent leaking of the roof and terrace that had the potential to destroy the integrity of the structure. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources had performed basic repairs, but it invested little in communicating the story of George Rogers Clark and his Big Knives to visitors. Slightly creaky and not at all in tune to the needs of the public of the 1960s, the park was a double-edged inheritance. It had vast potential, but as an institution it had a considerably negative history that affected the way in which the public saw it.
In 1966, the Park Service was in the midst of a golden era. Under the strong leadership of George B. Hartzog, Jr., the last agency director in the entrepreneurial mode of Stephen T. Mather and Horace Albright, the agency had an optimistic and forward-looking tenor. MISSION 66, begun a decade before to raise the level of park facilities in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the agency in 1966, had been a resounding success. Across the nation, new and better facilities greeted park visitors, and those visitors responded with resounding favor. MISSION 66 had advantages for the agency. It enhanced the importance of planning, both for immediate and long-term growth, and helped further the trend toward specialization within the agency. With a greater quantity of resources available to them, park managers could devote their time to their individual units while allowing agency professionals to oversee development. 
Despite all these advantages, the new George Rogers Clark National Historical Park remained an anomaly in the park system. Most important historical park areas contain genuine material culture resources from the time in question; the earthworks, ramparts, and cannons of Civil War battlefields, many of which were restored by historical technicians during the New Deal, provide the best example. The Clark memorial was a contemporary memorial to an historic event, an entirely modern structure designed to commemorate but not replicate the historic events of the place. Although there were other similar places in the park system, Park Service officials in general were more comfortable with actual historic fabric such as that existed elsewhere in Vincennes than they were with modern commemoration of historical happenings. 
This reality influenced Park Service plans even before the passage of the 1966 bill. Although local people saw the memorial as a physical plant designed to highlight the downtown area, the Park Service sought to include much more of the historic fabric of the community within the interpretation that took place. On his first post-establishment visit to Vincennes on November 18, 1966, Northeast Regional Director Lemuel A. (Lon) Garrison emphasized the historical importance of the entire Vincennes area. Expressing interest in "at least eighteen" other historic properties in town, Garrison confirmed that the Park Service would broaden the interpretive concept of the memorial to include the history of the Old Northwest. Those events were "unique in this country," Garrison said. "We want to tell this story." 
With nearly an entire year before the July 1, 1967, transfer of the memorial to the federal government, Park Service officials had time to begin planning before they had to implement a program. Garrison and Albert W. Banton, Jr., superintendent of the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, the official designated as responsible for the new national historical park and head of the planning team, were the first to arrive. They and their agency were "great believers in master planning," Garrison told an audience in Vincennes during the November visit, and the planning team came to Vincennes shortly after Garrison's departure. Surveying the town and talking to its people, the team was able to give residents a feel for the nature of Park Service administration. 
Vincennes residents had two primary concerns. They feared that the Park Service wanted to take over all the historic sites in the community and they wondered about the direction the agency planned for the memorial. "We are not here in a power grab," Banton assured the Rotary Club at its November 29, 1966, lunch. "We are here to cooperate, to administer, and to plan." While Banton's openness certainly allayed suspicions, residents could not help but wonder about an agency that quickly could identify nearly twenty local structures important enough to include in its overall plan for interpretation. Banton also articulated the limits of the agency mandate; he explained that the Park Service could not expend money on the library at the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, but the agency could provide technical expertise. The agency could and would build a parking lot to minimize on-street parking by visitors, he said, and it planned a visitor center for the park. The program could be expected to take eight to ten years. "We want to talk about what we plan, and we want to get your ideas," Banton said at the meeting. "You will get direct answers to your questions although you may not always like the answers, but we will be honest and plain." 
By early January 1967, the planning team formulated a draft master plan that became the basis of Park Service activity at George Rogers Clark National Historical Park. Replacing a management plan concerned primarily with maintenance, the team had to start from the beginning. The team defined a three-pronged mission that included commemorating the Clark expedition and the growth and development of the Old Northwest; communicating that story to the public; and participating in the preservation of the historic character of Vincennes. This dual role, as manager of the park and as catalyst in encouraging broader preservation and interpretation activities in the Vincennes area suited the Park Service well. The master plan also established a list of priorities for the new park, recommending a survey of historic resources in Vincennes, forming a cooperative agreement with St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, and securing visitor parking, temporary office space, and an interpretive facility. Later, the agency could address long-term issues such as assessing the historic resources of the community and their importance to the George Rogers Clark story; developing permanent administrative, maintenance, and interpretive facilities; and accomplishing the necessary rehabilitation on the memorial and its physical plant. 
When it assumed responsibility for the Clark memorial, the Park Service also inherited existing relationships with the local community. Located in the heart of the city, the memorial was surrounded by retail and wholesale businesses, warehouses, and a number of private residences. Parts of the downtown had become seedy, a consequence of the gradual loss of population in Vincennes that had begun after World War II as well as the general decline of downtown areas across the nation. A grain elevator dominated the view from the front of the rotunda, and a colony of mussel shell gatherers had previously established a little settlement called Pearl City on the riverbank southwest of the park.  Combined with the railroad siding that crossed the park to the immediate west of the rotunda, these features had an impact upon the park and upon the visitors' experiences.
Although possibly troublesome, this array of activities adjacent to the park had advantages. The planning team judged most of the businesses as relatively stable, and its members even detected a trend toward improvement in privately financed redevelopment in progress along Main Street. Team members recognized that the park experienced a greater impact from the uses around it than it exerted upon the town. Although the patterns of use were well-established, the planners noted that the change in administration meant little to local people. The Clark memorial still was the same; it just was managed differently. 
The planning team did envision a positive effect from the Park Service presence in Vincennes. Assuming a role familiar to the agency, the park could provide a stimulus for historic preservation with its technical expertise as well as use its vast experience in interpretation to coordinate such activities in the many historic places in the town. Yet the agency had no power to compel other entities to accept its help. The planners recognized that this sort of interaction depended upon the response of community organizations. 
This stance reflected the predisposition of the agency for actual historic places as well as the need to function as a member of the community. For Park Service interpreters, the "real thing" always was attractive. With much early nineteenth-century historic fabric in the community, it seemed imprudent to ignore the possibility of influencing the interpretation conveyed to the public. In addition, the Park Service historically practiced a good-neighbor policy. From the Navajo Reservation to Alaska, from California to Maine, when the Park Service could assist people who lived nearby and were influenced by its actions, it nearly always did. 
These choices also reflected a potential issue for the Park Service at Vincennes. The Park Service had yet to develop a framework for interpreting the growing array of built monuments within its jurisdiction.  It was easy for the planners to devalue the importance of the memorial, to treat it as a grandiose visitor center from which to kick off a tour of the less spectacular but from a historical perspective more important historic structures in the community. The Clark rotunda was impressive, but it required the same sort of information from the ranger stationed there as did any visitor center; it served as a place to orient the public to the story of the surrender of Fort Sackville and the origins and development of the Old Northwest. The places that were part of that history, from the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church to Grouseland, were to remain outside federal control.
This created a complicated management scenario for the Park Service. The creation of the national historical park gave the agency control of an important feature, but only marginally granted the ability to influence the direction and fate of other similarly important places that were nearby. Agency officials would have to tread carefully for fear of offending those whose support they needed to fulfill their objectives. It was not a situation to which 1960s federal officials were accustomed.
The planners envisioned a loosely linked collection of historic places, joined by a local Trailblazer Autotrain and the interpretation offered at the Clark memorial. The message that came across at the memorial was muddled; it lacked both effective presentation and all-encompassing information. A visitor center would supply the venue for interpretation while strong ties to local owners of historic properties would enhance the existing interpretation. 
In fashioning a strategy, the master plan set out a management course that was easy to follow, but from which it was difficult to garner satisfactory results. The planners' actions occurred in full view of the people of the town, many of whom felt some kind of proprietary interest in the memorial. The agency had broadened the scope of its responsibilities even before problems that residents and the former state managers had identified were solved. As a result, when the Park Service assumed responsibility for the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park on July 1, 1967, it created expectations and committed itself to long-term projects that included tangible development and much intangible building of relationships with the local community.
At first, the only changes that people could see were the end of the fifty-cent admission charge and the presence of rangers in Park Service uniforms. A five foot-by-ten-foot sign went up proclaiming the new park, and Banton told reporters that he could think only of Williamsburg and of Philadelphia which were as important to United States history as was the Clark memorial. Despite the hyperbole, Banton, his large sign, and the Park Service made a positive impression the first day.  The combination suggested a seriousness of purpose that had been lacking under state administration.
But compared to other new parks in the system, George Rogers Clark National Historical Park lacked many amenities. Besides obvious features such as a parking lot and a visitor center, both included in the initial master plan, the park was not autonomous. Banton, already the superintendent at Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, about forty-five miles away, functioned as the official responsible for the new park as well. Even though Robert L. Lagemann was appointed management assistant for the park on September 10, 1967, and he soon became a fixture in Vincennes, it was Banton who retained the real decision-making power over the new park. 
In the Park Service, this kind of management always had indicated lesser importance for the park area where the person in charge did not reside. Except in emergency situations, only small and inaccessible parks generally were managed in this fashion; one such relationship, between Navajo National Monument and Rainbow Bridge National Monument, only ended when administrative responsibility for Rainbow Bridge was transferred, not to independent management, but to the new Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Another park, Wright Brothers National Memorial in North Carolina, was administered by Fort Raleigh National Historic Site between 1942 and 1945 and by Cape Hatteras National Seashore from 1945 to 1962.  Although many small parks were in such an arrangement when they first entered the system and such groupings occurred any time the agency felt compelled to try to cut costs, this pattern suggested a lack of standing that belied the historic significance associated with George Rogers Clark National Historical Park.
Nor did the memorial resemble a national park area when Lagemann arrived. There was no existing office space and the two structures on the grounds aside from the memorial were unsuited for such use. One was designated as a residence for the caretaker, while the other was too dilapidated for use. The maintenance facility was across alternate U.S. Highway 50 (Vigo Street) adjacent to the downtown, in an area with heavy vehicular traffic. This made access and use of some equipment difficult and time consuming. The maintenance crews had to cross as many as three crowded streets to get their equipment to the section of the park upon which the memorial was located. Lagemann had authority over day-to-day park activities, but every major decision had to be cleared through Banton. Nor did Lagemann have large funds at his disposal; $100 in petty cash and a credit card to buy fuel for the park pickup truck were the limits of his financial prerogative. 
The situation at the park was typical of the conditions in new NPS ventures, particularly when the agency took over a park from another entity. Administration was bifurcated; Lagemann held responsibility for the interpretive and administrative functions of the park while Banton, who visited every Tuesday, directed the maintenance crews. From the former state manager's residence at 115 Dubois Street, which the Park Service previously converted into office space, Lagemann oversaw a clerical staff of one, Janet Ernst, and the three elderly men who had worked for the state and whom the Park Service agreed to keep. Two of them, Walter Minderman and Orval Hedge, handled much of the caretaking, while the third, Frank Werker, spent every day, from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M., in the rotunda.
Until Lagemann forced him to give it up, Werker had a rocking chair that he kept next to the souvenir stand. In the summer, one person was added to the maintenance staff and two seasonal interpreters joined Werker on duty in the rotunda. 
The Park Service initiated typically labor intensive interpretive programs designed to accomplish two goals. It was important that the public recognize the difference between NPS interpretation and that of other entities, so the programs were designed to highlight the highly developed interpretation skills of the agency. In addition, Lagemann had noted a lack of interest in Clark and his achievements in Vincennes. The people of the town were more interested in the structure itself The interpretive program highlighted the expedition of the Big Knives and its importance for the fledgling American Republic. 
The Park Service also sought to build bridges with the local community. One of the best means at its disposal was the hiring of seasonal employees in maintenance and interpretation. By bringing locals into annually renewable positions, the park could build loyalty in the community, show that the presence of a federal park area had greater economic advantages for the town than its predecessors could demonstrate, and improve the quality of the services it offered. Hiring locals as seasonal interpreters and maintenance workers helped open doors in Vincennes, but agency officials had much to do before they were close to implementing the conception described in the master plan. There were many owners of historic structures in the community and even more constituencies. Coordinating interpretive and managerial efforts was a complicated puzzle that took years to establish and took even longer to coalesce.
The Park Service had big plans when it arrived in Vincennes, but some agency personnel associated with the park had trouble establishing a rapport with people in the local historical community. The residents of Vincennes had run their sites for a long time and, in some measure, resented the presence of the Park Service. In some circumstances, Park Service people inadvertently could behave in a high-handed manner toward local people, particularly when the quality of visitor experience was in question. Communities could feel threatened when the Park Service offered big plans for their little places, especially when it seemed that the agency was telling people what to do with their own property. Despite Banton's repeated assurances, in fiercely independent southern Indiana the situation created two kinds of tension, one concerning individual rights and another about unwanted government intervention and expansion.
The tension in Vincennes focused on Grouseland, the nineteenth-century home of territorial governor and U.S. President William Henry Harrison. The house was owned by the Francis Vigo Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Shortly after he arrived in Vincennes, Lagemann paid a visit to Grouseland. He received a cool reception; the ladies on duty even charged him the normal fifty-cent entrance fee. Although everyone was civil, they were hardly friendly. In search of the reasons for the reception, Lagemann spoke with Northeast Regional Historian Frank Barnes, a skilled and experienced interpretive specialist, who explained the problem. Shortly after the establishment of the national park in 1966, a visiting Park Service team came to Grouseland. One member uttered a phrase including the words, "take over," and as Lagemann recalled, "that was the end of that in 66." The DAR was so incensed its members removed the National Historic Landmark plaque that had been awarded to the property in 1965. 
An inadvertent comment turned an important relationship for the agency into a poor one. The local DAR felt threatened. Its people had rescued Grouseland from oblivion; in the nineteenth century, the building had become a hotel and a rooming house, and also had been used for storing grain. Early in the twentieth century, the City Water Department, which held property adjacent to the structure, wanted to tear down the building. The DAR bought the property and spent five decades restoring it, creating an historic mansion on the level of many of those in the East. The group resented the threatened intrusion. 
Lagemann was given the responsibility to rebuild the relationship. Barnes told him that he would have to "tread lightly and expect to be rebuffed repeatedly," but Lagemann persevered. During 1968, Barnes, Lagemann, and a third NPS official returned to Grouseland; Lagemann paid the entry fee for all three. Visiting Grouseland on an average of twice a year and contacting the leaders of the DAR regularly either by phone, letter, or in the many meetings of the local historical community, Lagemann kept working to build trust. After a few years, he persuaded the DAR that the plaque was an honor. It was remounted on a boulder on the grounds of the property. Eventually, the DAR stopped charging Lagemann admission, a sign that the relationship was improving. 
Gradually the Park Service also integrated its representatives into the community. In typical agency fashion, Banton and Lagemann joined civic groups and made themselves available as speakers for all kinds of local activities. In 1969, Banton even served as one of three outside judges in the annual DAR contest for the best essay about heroines of the Revolutionary War. Park Service technicians provided support for the renovation of the library at the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church.  Most communities readily welcomed this participatory citizenship and Vincennes was no exception. Federal officials, particularly in uniform, still had prestige, and in a town with much history, people with considerable historical knowledge were always in demand. Lagemann, who was active in community affairs in Vincennes, was in great demand and he made it a point always to appear in public in full agency uniform.
By early 1969, this role had begun to pay dividends for the Park Service. At the beginning of January, a group from the Junior Chamber of Commerce approached Banton about a possible reconstruction of Fort Sackville. Later that month, he spoke to a well-attended meeting, explaining the problems facing the Park Service at the new park as he sought to deter the idea of the reconstruction of the fort. Banton determined that the interest in a reconstruction stemmed from the local sense that the features of the town needed a central point around which the desired increase in visitation could coalesce. From his point of view, implementation of the park's master plan would accomplish that goal. 
Local leaders had other ideas for developing their historic resources. On January 28, 1969, Banton met with Judge Curtis G. Shake, Robert R. Stevens, advertising manager of the Vincennes Valley Advance, and Thomas S. Emison, president of the Vincennes Historical and Antiquarian Society, to develop a strategy to bring the idea of a state Revolutionary War Bicentennial Commission before the state legislature. After meeting on February 4, the group finalized a bill that Emison forwarded to the legislature in the name of the Vincennes Historical and Antiquarian Society. 
The first season of Park Service management clearly caught the attention of some prominent members of the Vincennes community. It infused the local business community, as well as those with responsibility for historic structures with new enthusiasm for the potential of the memorial. The presence of the Park Service made people consider economic growth and development along with preservation issues. But the warm reception was only a first step in garnering trust, which was crucial to achieving the kind of results the agency sought.
The Park Service also had begun a dialogue with Vincennes University about its historic properties. Vincennes University is the oldest institution of higher education in Indiana. The school began in 1801 as Jefferson Academy. Five years later the territorial legislature incorporated the institution under the name of Vincennes University. The university had administrative responsibility for the Indiana Territory Capitol and for a 1954 reproduction of the Stout Print Shop where an interpretive exhibit of a Ramage Press of the early 1800s was housed. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources owned the two structures. The school also offered the Trailblazer Autotrain which was so crucial to Park Service plans. On February 14, 1969, Banton met with Dr. Isaac Beckes, president of the university, to discuss cooperation. 
From the perspective of the Park Service, the two properties at the university were poorly managed. Banton and Lagemann visited the properties, estimating the size of areas that needed painting, checking wiring and other potential electrical hazards, and assessing the quality of interpretation. The buildings were used for storage, Lagemann recalled with dismay. The conditions were bad, with the interpretation abysmal. But the Park Service and the two responsible entities, the Department of Natural Resources and Vincennes University, worked out a cooperative agreement that gave the Park Service responsibility for maintenance of the two historic structures. 
For those more reticent local groups which operated or owned other historic properties, the university was an important barometer. If the university could reach an agreement with the Park Service about mutual interests without compromising what other groups might regard as their independence, then other kinds of relationships could ensue. Although community groups such as the Daughters of the American Revolution also had considerable standing, they could gauge the situation from negotiations between the agency and the university.
The dialogue between Beckes and Banton inspired a community-wide meeting of those involved in historic properties and interpretation. On March 4, 1969, a representative of Vincennes University, another from the Art Guild, which was located in the Old State Bank, the regent of the Francis Vigo Chapter of the DAR (which owned Grouseland), Monsignor Leo Conti from St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, William Dawn from the Tourism Promotion Committee of the Vincennes Chamber of Commerce, and Lagemann met to discuss cooperation and communication during the ensuing visitation season. 
From Banton's perspective, the meeting was a first step toward the development of cooperative agreements, albeit a "back door way of doing it."  By developing a shared agenda as well as complementary senses of the responsibilities of other managers in the area, the beginnings of a cooperative strategy could emerge. Even more, the Park Service could enhance its growing importance and status as a member of the local cultural resources management community. The agency had much to offer Vincennes and its historic resources; its representatives only had to be cautious of seeming to further their own agenda at the expense of others.
But the short-term results of this meeting did little for cooperative relations in Vincennes. Even though university representatives had agreed to Park Service involvement in the two historic properties on the campus, when it came time to sign a cooperative agreement with the NPS, school and conservation department officials balked. Someone prevailed upon both the university and the Department of Natural Resources to renege on their agreement, but no one knew who. Banton spent three or four weeks frantically trying to discover the identity of this person, but did not succeed.  Despite all the efforts of Banton and Lagemann, the chance for a successful cooperative agreement remained remote.
There also was a backlash that resulted from the collapse of the cooperative agreement. George Rogers Clark National Historical Park was a peripheral park for the Northeast Region; the bulk of the region's responsibilities were on the East Coast. After their shock at the demise of the arrangement, the Northeast Region simply lost interest in Vincennes. For as long as the park remained in the region, it rarely would be a priority for development. 
National Park Service improvements to the property were one easy way to rebuild the relationship with the local historic resources community. One of the most evident ways that the agency distinguished the management of places it acquired from other entities was through a distinct yet rapidly implemented plan of development of facilities. Geared toward visitor service and particularly toward the needs of its constituency of middle class auto travelers, the Park Service had an inherent strategy for places such as George Rogers Clark; it had practiced applying similar programs since the 1930s. For the Indiana park, located away from major routes of car travel and in the middle of a downtown, amenities for auto travelers were atop the list of priorities. 
Most pressing was the need for off-street parking. During the tenure of the state, parking had been a problem. Even the relatively low numbers of visitors (in the early 1960s there was an average of about 30,000 each year) meant considerable parking woes downtown and in what essentially was a residential area south and east of the park. There also were problems with visitors and city parking tickets for expired meters. Although this sort of fee-for-visitation arrangement could generate significant extra revenue for a local community, it also left visitors with bad feelings about a place. Visitor use of downtown parking also could effect local commerce; those who came downtown to shop might not be able to find space in which to park. Clearly the agency needed parking facilities of its own.
On-site parking became the first program undertaken by the Park Service. The initial master plan listed visitor parking as an immediate priority and by March 1969 a contractor, E. H. Montgomery, had been selected and the project had begun. On July 1, 1969, the blacktopping of the parking area was completed, and the Park Service had a fifty-space parking area solely for its own use just southeast of the memorial.  Designed to help create an identity for the agency with visitors to Vincennes, the parking lot was the first step in the capital development program for the park.
Other similar changes took place at about the same time. The dilapidated structure on the property, sometimes called the "Alice of Old Vincennes House" for the fictional heroine, was not suited for either office or interpretive use and its location partially blocked the entrance to the new parking area. Plans to demolish the house provoked a small controversy in Vincennes. Some in the community believed the structure to be of historic significance and, in the struggle to convince the local population of the agency's good intentions, the Park Service had to make a strong case. Lagemann himself found the concept of a fictional character having a house silly and sought to explain that the property had no historical value. During construction of the parking area, the Park Service let a contract for removal of the structure. Montgomery, whose crews were building the parking lot, was one of the bidders. He secured the contract and in April 1969, the Alice House came down. 
Despite all the improvements and the widespread belief that the construction of a visitor center at George Rogers Clark soon would follow, the park remained peripheral to the plans of the Park Service. Administered by the distant Northeast Region in Philadelphia and the superintendent of nearby Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, Albert W. Banton, Jr., the park remained on the periphery of agency development plans. Without a direct line to the Regional Office, Lagemann, whose title was management assistant, had to wait for his requests to clear two levels of administration rather than one. Although Banton was a strong advocate of the park, he was an intermittent one. Lincoln Boyhood was his priority, a fact reflected in his decision-making. No matter how hard Lagemann worked, there were clear limits to what he could accomplish. Before George Rogers Clark National Historical Park could attain the full benefits of its new status within the system, a change in administrative procedures and hierarchy had to occur.
The first step in that process began in August 1971, when Lincoln Home National Historic Site was authorized. By December, the three parks (Lincoln Boyhood, George Rogers Clark and Lincoln Home) had been renamed the Indiana-Illinois Group with Banton as general superintendent; of the national park areas in Indiana, only Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, in the northern part of the state, was not included in the grouping. This kind of clustering was typical in the 1960s and early 1970s; in one instance, the parks on or near the Navajo Nation were linked under the Navajo Lands Group, while elsewhere in the nation, parks with geographic proximity and similar or related themes also were linked. These measures were designed to simplify management and cut costs. The Navajo Lands Group, for example, was supposed to pool personnel with the skills that all the parks needed, allowing each to use its personnel for specialized needs. In some cases, the strategy succeeded. In others, it confused patterns of activity and chains of command. 
In Indiana and Illinois, this grouping worked well. It allowed one superintendent to represent the interest of the three westernmost parks in the Northeast Region, while giving Banton the opportunity to work on major issues instead of concentrating on day-to-day activities. The addition of the Lincoln Home park also gave Lagemann more autonomy. Banton still affirmed the major decisions for George Rogers Clark National Historical Park. He had to rely upon Lagemann's judgment to a greater degree than before the addition of the new park, for he had less time to spend in Vincennes, and other important management issues with which to contend. 
In November 1972, the Park Service implemented new procedures that changed the patterns of management not only for George Rogers Clark, but for the rest of the Indiana-Illinois Group. Banton was appointed superintendent of Lincoln Home National Historic Site, which was severed from the Indiana-Illinois Group and was made a free-standing unit of the park system. Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial and George Rogers Clark National Historical Park remained grouped, although they were renamed the Southern Indiana Group. John C. W. "Bill" Riddle, who had been superintendent at the Mound City Group National Monument in Ohio from 1962 to 1965 and then superintendent at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in Pennsylvania from 1965 until the 1972 transfer, was placed in charge. 
Again a management change gave Lagemann greater independence. Banton had been associated with George Rogers Clark National Historical Park since its transfer to federal administration. Riddle was a seasoned Park Service veteran, receiving his thirty-year pin from the agency at the end of his first year in charge of the two parks. However, he missed the formative period at the park during which Banton had played an important part. Lagemann, whose objective when he came to George Rogers Clark had been to acquire experience in every facet of the management of a small park, had become more of a manager and less of a subordinate as Banton's responsibilities grew. Lagemann proved an effective administrator and representative. In the year following the arrival of Riddle, Lagemann's experience and perseverance earned him recognition twice: he received his twenty-year pin from the agency and, more importantly, he was promoted to park manager of George Rogers Clark National Historical Park 
This new position affirmed the autonomy that Lagemann had acquired over time while cementing his position as a person who participated in every facet of management. The park manager gave the Kentucky rifle demonstration 139 times on the grounds in 1973 as well as nine times at off-site locations. With Banton's departure, Lagemann officially became the Eastern National Park & Monument Association (ENP&MA) agent, a capacity in which he had acted since the establishment of the park. He also managed maintenance activities, cooperated with interpretive design teams, and did everything else a superintendent would.  Lagemann's activities mirrored those of Park Service personnel of a generation before, when many smaller parks had only one permanent employee.
The jack-of-all-trades mentality was a Park Service tradition, but by the 1960s the opportunities to exercise it were increasingly rare. Particularly during MISSION 66, many parks received increases in staff as well as capital improvements. Park Service personnel began a trend toward specialization not only within the administrative levels of the agency, but at the park level as well. Many superintendents went from being hands-on participants in every activity at their park to becoming office-bound managers. Places such as George Rogers Clark National Historical Park operated in a manner counter to that trend.
Yet the park merited considerably more attention than it received from the Northeast Region. By 1973, visitation had risen to 78,225, an immense increase from the approximately 30,000 per annum that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources considered an impressive figure in 1965.  Despite the priorities established in the master plan, the park still lacked permanent interpretive, administrative, and maintenance facilities. George Rogers Clark, which was run on a small budget, functioned with temporary facilities. The first eight years of management had initiated many important programs. Fulfilling the potential of George Rogers Clark National Historical Park required the implementation of more comprehensive management programs and modern facilities.
Last Updated: 28-Jul-2006