EVENING SESSION, SEPTEMBER 11.
INTRODUCTORY REMARKS BY HON. WALTER L. FISHER, Secretary of the Interior.
Gentlemen: If you will pardon me for assuming the direction of the meeting we will proceed to business. I am taking the initiative because this conference has been called by the Secretary of the Interior to discuss the general subject of the national parks in this country. We will discuss the matter of the present condition of the national parks and what can best be done to promote the welfare of the parks and make them better for the purpose for which they were created. Having called the conference, I shall simply act as general director, so that we may avail ourselves of the advantages of proceeding in a parliamentary manner. In talking this matter over with those who have had most to do with it, we have reached the conclusion that progress will be promoted if we discuss this subject under three general headstransportation, concessions within the parks, and the subject of park administration from the point of view of those charged with that duty.
Before entering upon the discussion of these general topics, it may not be inappropriate for me to say that this large gathering of men of affairs indicates the interest which is taken in this whole subject and is very gratifying to me and those who are associated with me in the administration of this very important work. Since I became Secretary of the Interior and after discussion of the question with those officials at Washington intimately connected with the administration of the national parks, I have formed the opinion that the parks have not received the attention they deserve. They have grown up like Topsy, and no one has been particularly concerned with them. This conference has been called for the purpose of discussing the difficulties met with in the various parks, in order that the difficulties met with in one park may be avoided in the others, and in order that the plans which have been found successful in one park may be adopted in the others.
The attendance in the parks has not increased as those most familiar with them believe it should have increased. While there has been manifested widespread interest in the parks, still the numerical attendance has not shown the increase which it is believed should be shown during the past 10 years, and particularly during the past 5 years. The first question, therefore, is how to direct the attention of the people to these parks in such a way that the people will know how to get to them and what the expense will be in getting to them. That, gentlemen, is a subject about which we are very much concerned, and it is a problem in solving which the railroads can be of great assistance. I do not necessarily mean financial assistance, although I do not wish to ignore that feature of the situation. We thoroughly appreciate the expenditures which the railroads have made in many instances for the development of the parks; I mean expenditures made in the furnishing of increased facilities in getting to the parks, and particularly the work of publicity which they are carrying on. We know that costs them money, and although the inducement is a financial return to the railroads, it is an enlightened selfishness which is entitled to our grateful recognition. We think that the railroads may have some valuable suggestions to make to ussomething, perhaps, which they may have been thinking they would like to do if the park officials and the Department of the Interior would cooperate with them. In other words, the way to start this conference is with the question of how we are going to get to the parks. After we get to them, other questions will arise and we can discuss what is going to happen from that point on. I would be very glad, indeed, to open the discussion by hearing some remarks from Mr. Hill, president of the Great Northern Railway.
Mr. Secretary and gentlemen: I will try to help you start this meeting and will endeavor to be as brief as possible and take up as little of the time of the assembly as I may in my remarks, because, as I understand it, the meeting was called primarily for the benefit of those directly interested in the parks, the superintendents and other officials. The railroads, of course, have nothing to do with the direction of the parks. Our relations with the parks are naturally very close, and I believe they should be closer. It is, I believe, most fortunate from every standpoint that this conference has been called, indicating, as it does, the great interest taken by the present Secretary of the Interior in the national parks. It is the first time the parks have received such attention, and I believe the excellent attendance here to-day indicates that it is appreciated. It is fitting that the first conference should be held in Yellowstone Park, the first of the national parks to be created. This park was started many years ago, and there are many reasons why it has not gone ahead as it should have gone. Glacier Park in Montana is the most recent of the parks to be created and is the one in which we of the Great Northern are most interested, because our lines touch it, but we are also interested in every national park in the United States, although our especial interest lies in Glacier, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Crater Lake. This is because it is practically impossible to sell a round trip ticket to a man for any one park, the public always wanting to go from one park to another.
Thousands of Americans go to Canada every year for things they might just as well get in the United States. They go there for homes and they go there to see the scenery in the Canadian Rockies. Recently when I was there studying conditions I was told that five to six hundred people visit the Canadian Rockies daily. This shows the possibilities for Glacier Park. I obtained the information from reliable business men. Ninety-five per cent of the people going to Canada are Americans. The reason for it is the advertising which is being done by the Canadians. As Mr. Fisher has said, the advertising largely falls to the railroads and those who are interested commercially in the parks, although the Government has done some, and in the future we all want to go ahead and do a great deal more in the way of advertising. This will change the current of travel from Europe and Canada to this country. I think it is safe to say that what took 40 years in the development of this park, Yellowstone, will be done, with proper development work, in three years in Glacier Park. There is no reason why within three or four years we should not have an attendance in Glacier equal to that which we have here in Yellowstone; at least, I know of no reason why this could not be done, and we are going ahead with this in view in our "See America First" campaign. So far as our railroad is concerned in the four parks in which we are most interested, we want to cooperate in advertising, and if there are any other ways in which we can assist we will do it. Before much can be done in this line, however, we must have trails, telephone lines, wagon roads, and camps for taking care of tourists. All of this will cost a good deal of money, and we can not expect to do too much at once. This year there have been considerably more than 3,000 people in Glacier, and so far we have only advertised Glacier in a sentimental way. There are not sufficient accommodations in Glacier for taking care of the tourists. We have established several camps, but we do not wish to go into the hotel business; we wish to get out of it and confine ourselves strictly to the business of getting the people there just as soon as we can, but it is difficult to get capital interested in this kind of pioneer work. With the cooperation and assistance of the Government we hope within two or three years to get financial people interested in the park and then we can get out and attend to railroading. The railroads are greatly interested in the passenger traffic to the parks. Every passenger that goes to the national parks, wherever he may be, represents practically a net earning. We already have the train facilities for taking care of the regular traffic and the tourist earnings are practically net, as long as they do not require extra train service.
The SECRETARY. Perhaps, following what seems to be the natural line of approach, it would be a good plan to hear from those who are interested in the park where we now are. When we discuss transportation facilities in connection with Yellowstone Parktransportation leading to and away from the park, as distinct from that within the parkthere are three railroads especially concerned. I believe the first on the scene was the Northern Pacific, and if Mr. Cooper, assistant to the president of the Northern Pacific, will favor us with such suggestions as he may wish to offer, we would be pleased to hear from him.
Mr. Secretary and gentlemen: It is peculiarly fitting that the first meeting of Government officials and others specially interested in the national parks should be held in the Yellowstone National Park, the first that was created, and the establishment of which inaugurated the wise policy of preserving to the people of the United States forever the magnificent playgrounds with which nature has endowed them.
The principal purpose of this meeting is to consider in what manner the number of visitors to the various parks can be increased, and to this feature, from the point of view of the railroads, my few remarks will be devoted.
The passenger rates to this park are about 1-1/2 cents per mile, which, considering the high grade of service demanded by this class of travel, makes these rates the lowest to be found anywhere in the world. The railroads justify themselves in making these very low rates on the theory that the business will not otherwise move. But in these days of close supervision of the railroads by national and State railroad commissions there is a danger that some of these commissions may take the position that in making these rates the railroads are discriminating in favor of a class of travel which may be characterized as luxury and placing a burden upon their regular business. Therefore, no matter how willing railroads may be to cooperate in any movement toward increasing travel to the parks, they will feel themselves restrained, for the reason stated, from making any lower rates than now prevail. Hence, as it appears to me, we may as well dismiss from our minds any idea that a decrease in railroad rates can be made to induce additional traffic.
As to advertising the parks, it will be conceded that practically all that has been done in this respect has been accomplished by the various railroads, excepting, of course, that class of advertising, which is the most valuable of all, which is done by every visitor through the parks when they tell their friends and neighbors of the wonderful things they have seen. But the character of this class of advertising depends very largely on the feelings which each visitor to the park carries away. There are, of course, some visitors whose love for the beautiful and wonderful is such as to overcome the smaller annoyances and discomforts that attend the trip to a more or less degree; but I think we will all agree that in order to secure the best advertising from visitors the discomforts of the trip must be reduced to a minimum, and to secure this result there must be an earnest cooperation of the railroads, the Government, and the concessioners. The railroads feel that in this respect they are doing their part, or, to put it in another way, that they are giving maximum service for a minimum compensation. I have never heard any serious complaints about the service given by the concessioners or the rates charged by them. Doubtless there are some details of this service that can be improved, as there are in the railroad service, but I think I am safe in saying that in a general way the service of both the railroads and the concessioners is of high standard and their charges reasonable.
It is now in order to consider whether the Government has done or is doing its part to make the parks attractive to visitors, and in what I have to say in this respect it will be understood that my criticisms are directed to Congress, not to the administration, as I have no doubt the officers charged with the administration of the parks have done all that could reasonably be expected of them with the appropriations available. But I think we will all agree that Congress has been parsimonious in its treatment of the national parks to a degree that largely defeats the very purpose of their creation.
I will not go into detail on this subject, as I am not sufficiently familiar with the needs of the various parks to do so, but I will speak of one particular feature which happened in this very park this summer. It appears that the appropriation for sprinkling was exhausted about August 1; thereafter, for about 30 days, until the first rain came, the roads were in such condition that the dust was not only a discomfort, but a positive menace to healthso much so that some visitors, after their long journey to reach the park, turned around at the end of the first day's trip and went back. We can well realize the kind of advertising that the parks will receive from the majority of those who visited this park during the month of August. We may as well accept it as a fact that the majority of the people who can afford a trip to the national parks are of a class who are used in their daily life to a reasonable degree of comfort, and no matter how ardent their love of nature may be they will not make the park trip unless it can be done with a reasonable degree of comfort and safety.
From all of which it seems to me apparent that the real solution of the question we are considering, how to increase the number of visitors to the national parks, is to secure larger appropriations from Congress, in order that travel within the parks may be made with more comfort, and that we should all use our influence with Congress to secure such additional appropriations.
The SECRETARY. During the course of this conference I shall take the liberty to break in occasionally to make such comment as seems to be pertinent, as I shall expect you gentlemen to make suggestions. In connection with what Mr. Cooper has stated, perhaps it would be of use in future discussions here if I called your attention to one or two things. In the first place, as to the advertising done by the Government. This last spring, for the first time, the Department of the Interior, through its employees in Washington, prepared and furnished to the newspaper press of the country certain articles, with illustrations, with reference to the national parks and reservations. Very gratifying results have been obtained from this work. The eagerness with which the newspapers sought this material, the avidity with which they took it, the willingness with which they published it, and the amount of favorable comment which came to me in a perfectly casual manner were all exceedingly gratifying. I think I can say to Mr. Cooper that, having no appropriation for publicity, we have done everything we could during the past few months in that direction. If we are to do more in that line or in other directions, we have got to come to the second step, namely, the getting of more liberal appropriations for these purposes. This is a matter that is in the hands of Congress, and I am sure the railroad men and others will help us out in that direction. In this connection it would not be inappropriate now to call your attention to the fact that the expenditure of many of the appropriations made by Congress for the improvement of the national parks, including the sprinkling of the roads, is left to the War Departmentto the Engineer Corps of the Armywhile the administration of the parks is turned over to the Department of the Interior. Even here in Yellowstone the superintendent, although an Army officer, was not given an opportunity to be heard in the preparation of the estimates. Perhaps that will illustrate to you as well as anything I could say how unsystematic, unscientific, and uneconomic the provision for the administration of the parks has been. I mention these things because many of those present may not have had their attention called to them before, and I believe everybody here can be of great assistance, individually and collectively, in rectifying some of these unintentional mistakes.
Following the procedure which I have already outlined, we should hear from the Oregon Short Line before we leave Yellowstone, and I will ask Mr. D. E. Burley, general passenger agent of that road, if he will be good enough to set forth the views of his company with reference to the national parks.
Mr. BURLEY. Although we are greatly interested in the parks and have been listening to the discussion and addresses here with much interest, I believe I have nothing of value to say at this time, so I will ask to be excused.
The SECRETARY. The next park we will take up is the Yosemite, and in that connection perhaps Mr. Lehmer, traffic manager of the Yosemite Valley Railroad, will give us his views with relation to the general question of the national parks.
In discussing the subject of transportation and its relation to national parks our ideas are based largely on existing conditions in the Yosemite National Park, as we are more familiar with conditions there than elsewhere; but we believe they will apply with equal force to all national parks.
Transportation as commonly understood means the handling of freight and passenger business by common carrier. This I believe in most all our parks now is accomplished by railroads in connection with stage and wagon haul.
Our national parks should be our national playgrounds, and while they are not universally so considered to-day, the time is not far distant when we believe they will be looked upon as being such by the majority of the people. It is a well-known fact that each year finds fewer places open to those who wish to spend their vacations out of doors, where they can commune with nature away from the activities of everyday life.
Our parks, in order to attract the people, must be out of the ordinary, and it goes without saying that our national parks have this characteristic, or our National Government would not have set them apart for the use of the people. I have been through our wonderful park here, and I know it has all and more than the most enthusiastic lover of nature claims for it. I have been in the beautiful Yosemite many times, and each time find something new to charm us.
These parks belonging to the people should be made so accessible that all who wish to do so may behold their beauties and wonders. Transportation, as in nearly all developments, bears a very close relationship to the full enjoyment and benefit to be derived from the national parks. Not so many years ago our famous Yosemite was accessible only to the young and hardy, who were able to endure the hardships of a ride of 100 miles on horseback over trails which were hazardous and few there were who would venture upon the trip. Later roads were built to the valley, but needless to say that the early stage coaches running over the hot, dusty plains and mountainous roads were not conducive to the comfort and ease the traveling public is entitled to. And not until the year 1907, when the Yosemite Valley Railroad was completed to its present terminus at the park line, was the wonderful valley placed within easy reach of young and old, weak and strong, rich and poor. Now the traveler can leave San Francisco in the morning and in the evening be at the entrance to the park, with all the modern comforts of travel, or he can leave San Francisco in the evening in a Pullman car and eat his breakfast in a first-class hotel at the park entrance.
The rate from San Francisco to Yosemite and return, including the stage ride through the park to all hotels and camps, is only $22.35, and often during the season special excursions are run for 10-day trips, all expenses paid, which reduces the cost at least one-third over the regular rates. Before the advent of the railroad the transportation from San Francisco alone was about $55, and, as two days were required in each direction to make the trip, about $20 more were required to pay expenses, making a total expense of $75. Thus it is that modern transportation facilities bring the parks within easy reach of the people.
A noted writer and traveler whom we recently accompanied through Yosemite, after seeing the difficulties encountered in building the railroad and the enormous cost of construction, said that surely the men who put their money into the enterprise are benefactors of the people and deserve a vote of thanks for the chances they have taken.
Transportation to the parks is largely affected by conditions within the parks. Ample accommodations must be provided for the visitors. Congested conditions immediately check the flow of travel, as people will not be inconvenienced by such conditions when they can avoid it. Accommodations should be provided for all classes and conditions of people. The wage earner with only a limited amount of money for his outing should not be barred from enjoying the beauties of nature on account of prices being beyond his means. On the other hand, there are people who are able and who wish to pay for the best and will not travel to places where they can not be so accommodated, hence the necessity of hotel accommodations which are up to date with all the conveniences of the first-class hotel of the city.
Until these desirable conditions prevail in the parks travel will be restricted and the people as a whole will not derive their full benefit and pleasure from the national parks. We believe the Government should take sufficient pride and interest in this matter to see that everything possible is done to properly take care of all its guests. The same traveler previously referred to said he was ashamed of his Uncle Sam, seeing that nature had done so much for Yosemite and man so little. These remarks are not intended as a reflection on the direct management of the park, as I believe the men intrusted with its keeping have done all they could with the limited means at their disposal.
We believe that for the Yosemite Park, at least, a careful study should be made of its needs and a sufficient appropriation should be made, the expenditures to extend over a period of years, working out a comprehensive plan of improvements, such as would be a credit to the United States. Unless this is done, we never will receive the full benefits with the money appropriated and used for improvements.
We also believe that rail transportation should be extended to the gates of Yosemite or to the Pohono Bridge, which would bring the traveler right into the doorway of the great wonderland. This, of course, would have to be an electric line, as a steam road could not operate over the grades here encountered. This would in no way mar the beauties of the valley proper and would leave only a short carriage drive of 4 or 5 miles to all points of interest, camps, and hotels in the valley over a level road. This would be desirable not only on account of the tourist travel, but would reduce the team haul on all Government freight, as well as supplies for the hotels and camps, thus reducing the cost of providing for the travel. It would also shorten the wagon road by at least 9 miles, saving thousands of dollars each year on account of repairing and sprinkling the wagon road.
If the management of the parks is not in position to provide these improvements, which we believe for many reasons they should do, we believe that the conditions and restrictions should not be so onerous as to discourage individuals from undertaking these improvements. Railroad companies handling the business to the park lines usually have a hard time making their lines pay on account of the nature of the country through which they pass. Cost of construction is excessive and the country usually sparsely settled and very little freight business can be developed and the local passenger travel is limited. Hence the principal revenue is from the passenger travel to the park in its season. It can readily be seen that these transportation companies need all the assistance possible from those in control of the parks in the way of providing proper and adequate facilities for the accommodation of the people they take there, as transportation is limited to the facilities for taking care of the people.
The SECRETARY. We would be glad to hear from Mr. Fee, of the Southern Pacific, if he will oblige us.
The road with which I am connected, the Southern Pacific, is very largely interested in tourist travel, especially in travel to the Yosemite. We are interested in a great measure at the same time in travel to Crater Lake, Mount Rainier, and to this park. We are giving a great deal of attention to attracting business to them and we are advertising them as intelligently, persistently, and effectively as we know how. I do not have to repeat what is well known, howeverthat millions of dollars leave the United States each year and are spent in foreign lands. This is because of the way the people of those foreign lands take care of the visitors. We have only to look to Switzerland to see how that country takes care of her visitors. I do not think that in the way of assets in the line of scenery the United States need take a back seat when compared with any country on the face of the globe. Yellowstone Park will stand alone in its class with the possible exception of one or two others equally well situated, and it is to the development of the business to these parks that the railroads with which I am connected are devoting their very best efforts. I do not think anybody will take issue with me when I say that the best advertising in the world is not the written word nor the printed word, but is the spoken word. If you can send a man back home after having visited Yellowstone Park, Yosemite Park, and the other parks and have him go back thoroughly satisfied with his trip and an enthusiastic admirer of the parks, you have accomplished more than could be accomplished by any general advertising campaign.
I have been especially interested in the last few years in the development of the business of Yosemite Park. Mr. Lehmer, our friends of the Santa Fe, and others are acquainted with the present rather unsatisfactory condition of the park, and Maj. Forsyth has referred to it in his recent reports. I very much hope that these irregularities, lack of facilities, and lack of development, especially in the matter of roadways in and about Yosemite, including Mariposa Grove, may have more earnest attention on the part of the authorities in Washington: It is needless for me to say that we will bring all reasonable pressure to bear upon our Representatives in Congress, to the end that more adequate appropriations may be made for the parks. In the matter of transportation to the parks I think it is all that could be desired. I agree with Mr. Cooper that the public can not fairly ask that the railroads make any further reduction in rates. The fact of the matter is that the rate mentioned by Mr. Cooper, namely, 1-1/2 cents, is very, very low, as low as or lower than that to resorts in any other country. Some of the railroads interested in this travel make ratesare obliged to make themeven lower rates than those mentioned by Mr. Cooper.
Now, as to advertising. I was very much interested in this question recently when I met a man on an incoming steamer to San Francisco. He hailed from Sydney, Australia, and was on his way to England. I learned that he had bought his ticket direct for New York and expected to go through without stopping over and go aboard his ship. That did not suit me. I thought it did not look just right, and I said to him, "It is not possible that you are going through from San Francisco to New York and then to England without visiting the Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, or Yellowstone Park?" He told me he had made his plans and did not wish to change them. After considerable persuasion he decided to defer his sailing from New York, and at my suggestion he made a side trip from San Francisco to Yosemite. I looked forward with considerable interest to seeing him on his return. He greeted me smilingly, and said, "Before I make any other remarks I wish to say that I am very glad I took your advice and visited Yosemite Park and the Mariposa Grove of big trees; but there is something else. I thought in Australia we knew something of dust, but you can outdo us for dusty roads in the Yosemite. It is a shame that in a magnificent park like Yosemite there are so few first-class roads and that better provision is not made for laying the dust." I explained to him that some of the roads are not within the jurisdiction of the Government and that those which were under the control of the Government were likely to be in good condition. My explanation was not entirely satisfactory to him; but he said that when he returned to Australia he would advise all his friends and neighbors who might get to San Francisco to take a trip to Yosemite, provided the season and the condition of the roads were favorable. I then asked him about a trip to Yellowstone Parkif he was not going to see that park. He said: "No; you will have to excuse me. I have been hearing something of the conditions in Yellowstone as to the dust, and if they are only half true I do not care to make the trip, so I will take my train for New York." People who come here and visit our parks and resorts and find the hotel accommodations not first class, the roads not perfectly kept, go away and furnish about the worst advertising in the world.
I mention these matters to emphasize the fact that if the spoken word is the best advertising in the world, then it behooves everyone interested in our parks and resorts to see that they are so kept that the visitors will go away having had a pleasant and agreeable time and having seen the parks to the best possible advantage. So far as the company in which I am interested is concerned, we are only too anxious to cooperate.
The SECRETARY. We will now hear from Mr. Wells.
Mr. Secretary and gentlemen: In one of Winston Churchill's books, I think it is, there is an anecdote, the recital of which is credited to Abraham Lincoln, of blessed memory, and which tells of a certain politician who, when he got on his feet and commenced to talk to an assemblage of persons, could not shut off the flow of words until means were afforded him of sitting down, and on one occasion in making a speech from a platform on which there were no seats he was compelled to resort to the expedient of having a chair handed to him from the audience in order that he might sit down and so close his oration. I am just like that man, only different. It is difficult for me to talk when standing on my feet, hence have written, and, with your permission, will read what little I have to offer on the subject under discussion.
The relation which transportation bears to the national parks and national monuments is a very close one. These great wonders of nature, wisely set aside by the Government for the benefit of the people, would be altogether inaccessible but for transportation; in the larger sense that furnished by the great railways in order that visitors may be brought to the gateways of the reserves, and in the more restricted way that supplied by the stage lines within the boundaries of the parks. The age we live in is luxurious. Without transportation of the two kinds named, and their important and indispensable adjunctsgood hotelsthese great natural creations would be seen by only a few enthusiasts. In some instances the transportation companies of the larger sort, in addition to expending the capital necessary to land people at the doors of the parks, have also been the pioneers in furnishing the money needful to install the hotels, build roads, and supply as well the equipment and stock for the establishment of the requisite transportation of the minor sort within the limits of the parks and monuments.
I represent one of the larger transportation companies which has so invested its capital, and while I am not here to advocate monopoly of the public domain, which is unfashionable, and rightly so, being contrary to approved morals and repugnant to the policy of good government, remembering that my theme is "The relation of transportation to the national parks and national monuments," I feel that I am hewing to the line of my text, Mr. Secretary, when I urge upon the department of the Government of which you are the head a fair, broad-minded, liberal policy toward the transportation companies in the matter of concessions, unhampered by the howl of the camp follower, who comes in the wake of the pioneer, endeavors to set himself up in business, and failing because of lack of adequate capital or ability, or both, affects to see in every legitimate concession granted to the transportation company an undue preference extended to a hated monopoly. Then again I would urge upon your attention the desirability of eliminating from national parks and monuments, wherever he may exist, the obstructionist, who, holding bogus claims under the land laws, or through some other illegitimate means, prevents the building of roads or the installation of other convenient facilities designed for the benefit of the people visiting these great American pleasure grounds.
It also seems to me a proper function of Government that it should defray the cost of building and maintaining adequate roadways in both the national parks and national monuments, as has been done to a large extent here in the Yellowstone. In the national monument of the Grand Canyon the Santa Fe Railway is now engaged in building a highway along the rim of the canyon under a permit granted by the Forestry Department, which very properly requires that the road shall be open to all comers and free of tolls. The expenditure of the very considerable amount of money by the railway company for this road is not purely philanthropic. It is thought that the existence of this road will stimulate travel to the canyon, but I submit that our Government is too big not to charge itself with the cost of providing roadways in its national parks and monuments so that the public may enjoy their beauty in comfort. Municipalities recognize the propriety of this procedure in the upkeep of their parks, and in some of our Commonwealths, like Massachusetts, the State roads are maintained to a high standard of efficiency at the public expense. Hence I make an earnest plea, and in so doing hope I may be absolved from a suspicion of selfishness, for a more liberal policy by the Federal Government in its treatment of the national parks and national monuments.
The SECRETARY. I suppose everybody who has traveled over the Santa Fe system has heard the name of Harvey; and especially, in view of the wide field that the railroads fill in relation to national parks, it would be exceedingly inappropriate if we did not hear from Mr. Harvey at this time.
Mr. Secretary and gentlemen: I had no idea of being called upon this evening, but I will say that we are interested in the Grand Canyon. The canyon is a national monument and not a national park, and for that reason I fancy it is not considered as being entitled to the same recognition and consideration as a national park. We have, however, demonstrated, I think, our right to a place as "a point of interest" at least. The canyon railroad was built about 10 years agowe have been up there about seven years. In that time I have seen the travel increase to the canyon from a few hundred a year to last year something over 26,000, and this year the visitors will run somewhere between 30,000 and 35,000. Our travel reaches the rim of the canyon; in the summer time the drives are in good condition and we can go around it with some ease and comfort; but, unfortunately, most of our business comes to the canyon at a time when the weather is not so good, in the winter time, and the necessity of good roads is absolutesimply can not get along without them.
It is not a question of dust with us. We can drive about a mile and a half from the hotel, and can not get any farther. The situation demands attention. If the Government will not take the matter in hand and provide funds, it seems to me that they should permit the railroad company to do it. It is not something that we can bottle up and let lay until the Government is ready to deal with it, but we have these people coming therewe have, as I said before, something like 30,000 this yearand the way conditions are now it is a reflection upon the Government and upon the railroad company. Our visitors there inquire as to why something is not done. The result is a distinct reflection on all concerned. As far as the railroad company is concerned, Mr. Ripley assured me that the Grand Canyon proposition as a whole has been a losing feature since the time it was started. Of course there is an indirect profit on account of people traveling over the line by reason of the Grand Canyon, but that is a very uncertain argument. It may be that such travel is due to the roadbed, character of services furnished, or some other element. At any rate, the company is reluctant to continue expenditures under existing conditions. They realize that there is a great attraction there and have indicated their willingness to proceed with necessary expenditures to develop the canyon, providing cooperation is had. In one respect the situation differs from other places in that we do not have water. The water there has to be hauled in perhaps a distance of 120 mileshauled in by train. There is water about a mile down the canyon, but it is impossible to get it up without going to a very large expense. My hope is that the visit of the Secretary will acquaint him with conditions obtaining there and thereby enlist his aid. Mr. Hill very properly stated that it is rather hard to separate one of these attractions from the other. They all belong together. For instance, the improvements made here by Mr. Child I regard as a benefit to the Santa Fe Railroad, though it is remote from them. I think there is a probability of the visitors here coming around by Yosemite and back by the canyon.
The SECRETARY. There are quite a number of railroad men on the list before me. I do not know exactly whom to selectI would prefer to have volunteers if they would be willing to speak. I would like to have any suggestions that occur to you, Mr. Gilman.
Mr. Secretary and gentlemen: I think that all that can be said on the subject has been touched upon by the representatives of the railroadsthat is, the relation between transportation and the national parks. The railroads are willing to do their share, all of them, in the matter of transportation to the parks. Some of the gentlemen who have spoken have expressed a willingness to go even farther and to furnish the necessary transportation and other facilities within the parks, and that at the present time the real question to be considered is not so much the attitude of the railroads toward the parks as the attitude of the Government toward the parks. I think I may safely say that the attitude of the present executive portion of the Government is all that anybody could wish; but unfortunately the Executive has no power to make expenditures in the parks, no means of obtaining money with which to make these expenditures, so that our efforts from this time on, it seems to me, should be directed toward obtaining from Congress the necessary appropriations to properly develop the parks. We would depend upon the concessioners and the Government to make the parks attractive and to render within the parks the proper service at reasonable rates. When that has been accomplished, I am sure that good results will be had.
The SECRETARY. Now, there are other railroad men who have come here because of an interest in the subject, and we will be very glad to hear from them. If there are any suggestions, I would be very glad to receive them, either as to rates or service. This would be a very good time to make some suggestions in that direction.
I know that one of the persons in the United States who is most deeply concerned in the development and use of our national parks is Mr. McFarland, president of the American Civic Association. As we are approaching the parks now by means of the railroads, I would be very glad to have a word from him.
Mr. Secretary, I really have nothing to say that would be of advantage in regard to transportation. I think the transportation at the present time is admirable. All I have to say is that the railroads are in advance of the Government in the treatment of these national parks and that it is up to the general public, including the railroad men, to bestir themselves to see that the national parks are put in such shape and under such management as will bring about the conditions they themselves want. I fancy that all of us from time to time are apt to jump on any visible part of the Government we can get our fingers or thumbs on, forgetting that this is supposedly a Government in which every man is equalevery one of us has at least one Representative in Washington to whom we may write a letter backed by a vote. It has been well said that our national parks have not been managed in a coordinate fashion, but if we will combine our efforts and each one of us use our influence on Congress a good many things that we would like to come about will result.
The SECRETARY. I had assumed, Mr. McFarland, that the general question of the organization of a bureau of national parks for the purpose of more efficient administration would be of interest to you; I had thought that this matter would be more appropriate a little later on but if you care to speak on that subject now I would be very glad to hear you.
Mr. MCFARLAND. With your permission, then, I will speak now.
Some things have been said here to-night concerning American travel abroad. The Review of Reviews printed a review of the European travel situation some time ago, and the assertion was made that the pleasure travel tide which flows over Europe aggregates $550,000,000 yearly. It was asserted that the United States supplies two-thirds of this amount and got back as its share for its own scenic advantages less than one-half of the sum. This will serve to show that there is a strong financial inducement for doing something in respect to modifying the park policy. It seems to me that it is now time that the national parks shall cease to be incidentally handled in two departments and come to such handling as will make them as definite on the map of the United States as are the parks in any large city. We do not find in 150 or 200 American cities an instance of successful park work when the administration was by incidental committees or by the street commissioner or the public-works commissioner. The parks are successful when they are the primary object of attention on the part of some one person or some definite body. A park commissioner is the usual means.
We want to consider whether there should not be more parks. I find that the Federal Government possesses 712,000,000 acres of land unappropriated and unreserved. Surely in that area, found in 26 States, there are portions which should be looked after. The same thing is needed by the national parks as by the city parks. How do the cities acquire a park system? I may speak from direct knowledge, because I had considerable to do with the parks in Harrisburg. There when the park question was taken up we employed the best man we could find for the purpose. He looked over our community, made an investigation of the various places which seemed best adapted to serve the needs of the town, and then made his report. The report was considered widely extravagant until a detailed examination was made of it, and we then saw that Mr. Manning was right. We followed his suggestions, and in 10 years the parks have grown from 41 acres to 749 acres, 1 acre for every 90 people. That can not be done without having a definite plan. With the exception of 54 acres, we had to buy every inch of the park land. We had no land to which the city might lay claim, being without the advantages which the Federal Government now possesses. I adduce this instance to suggest the enormous advantage of giving the matter expert consideration.
There are no American national parks east of the Yellowstone, while the center of population is in Indiana. To get to the parks people must travel 1,500 miles. This is good for the railroads, but hard on the people. I think it is the Nation's duty to serve some of the eastern people as well as the western and think parks should be created either by purchase or by using some of the unreserved public land which would be easily accessible to the people of the east. The taste for the parks grows by what it feeds upon. The parks in the city of Chicago are visited by 750,000 people each year. The people of the United States will not need to go abroad if they are provided with the means here to see the things that are beautiful, and instead of spending their money abroad it will remain in the United States. There is from every standpoint sufficient advantage surrounding the creation and maintenance of the national parks to make it right and necessary to formulate a definite park policy, and we should go at it with the same spirit that has made possible enterprises like the Panama Canal.
The benefits we are having from the parks are just beginning. The railroad men have told of the numbers visiting the parks. Mr. Harvey has mentioned the increase in the number of visitors to the Grand Canyon. The policy mentioned by the Secretary in regard to the press work is a very wise one, and when the parks are better known there will be an enormous increase in the number of visitors. When you get people to go to the parks you are making them better fit for that civilization and that patriotism which we all speak of, but which we do not all of us work for. We all sing "My country, 'tis of thee" and "I love thy rocks and rills," but what have we done with those rocks? We have torn them down to get something from the inside. Those "rills" we have dammed up with silt and coal dirt. "Thy woods and templed hills"but where are the woods? "My heart with rapture thrills"but God knows at what! We have not begun to work out our national hymn, and we lie when we sing it. Our work with the national parks will help us to make the hymn an accomplished fact. The parks, broadly considered, properly supported, adequately laid out, and suitably maintained, will be more advantageous, even as a solid business proposition, than anything we can do to-day.
I had expected a letter from Mr. Frederick Law Olmstead, but as it has not been received I request that it be inserted in the record.
OLMSTED BROS., LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS,
Mr. J. HORACE MCFARLAND,
President American Civic Association, Harrisburg, Pa.
MY DEAR MR. MCFARLAND: I greatly regret that I did not receive your letter in time to enable me to get a letter to you at Mammoth Hot Springs before yesterday, as requested.
I do not know, however, that I could have said much that is not already well in mind. The two principal points which I should have tried to make are these: First, the importance of some kind of legislative definition in broad but unmistakable terms of the primary purpose for which the parks and monuments are set apart, accompanied by a prohibition of any use which is directly or indirectly in conflict with that primary purpose without, however, interfering with the serving of other purposes than the primary purpose in so far as they do not in any degree conflict with the most perfect service of the latter. Second, executive efficiency demands that there be a single responsible executive head over the park administration with adequate authority, as little hampered by external interference as is possible; and yet at the same time the exceeding difficulty of maintaining continuity of policy in regard to the ultimate large effect upon the parks of innumerable decisions in matters of detail continued over long periods of years, and the difficulty experienced by any busy executive officer in holding himself to such a comprehensive and far-sighted view, would seem to make it desirable for the Government to establish some sort of small, permanent independent "board of overseers" of very slowly changing personnel, whose duty it should be to make systematic and effective inspections at rather long intervals, to discuss questions of general policy with the executive officer, to examine into the tendencies and probable effect of the methods of administration and of the laws controlling those methods, and to report to the Secretary of the Interior or to the President at stated intervals, perhaps no more frequently than once in each presidential term unless called upon to do so.
The extreme slowness with which the most important results begin to be generally apparent in park work (as in any work that is much dependent upon slow-moving, natural phenomena such as the growth and change of forests, and upon the formation of varying habits of use by a large and fluctuating public), and the extreme difficulty of so defining the purposes in view that they can be promptly and accurately comprehended by a new executive, make it peculiarly desirable in this class of work to have a slowly changing, permanent body of overseers or commissioners in a position to safeguard the one most vital feature of permanently successful administration, which is a harmonious continuity of policy.
This is the theory of the unpaid park commissions all over the country, and it is a sound theory, although I have much fault to find with the way it has been applied. The trouble has usually been that the members of such commissions have burdened themselves with administrative detail (which such a group of men is far less fitted to undertake than a single responsible executive), and have thereby obscured their vision for those very matters of general policy and ultimate result which it should be the duty of such a commission to watch. The two sets of functions and responsibilities, executive and deliberative, can and should be distinguished and both should be specifically provided for. By all means have a single-headed executive with every facility for prompt, unhampered, efficient action. By all means let this executive officer be also a man of all the judgment and discretion and wisdom that can be obtained. But let the Government provide also a deliberative body as a control upon his wisdom, just as it provides an auditor as a check upon the continuing honesty and regularity of those whom it expects to be honest and regular.
I hope that even now these general suggestions may be of some service.
FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED.
The SECRETARY. Is there anything further which anybody has to offer on the question of transportation? Have any of the superintendents or other park officials anything to offer connected with transportation; anything which they wish to call attention to now? I mean, of course, transportation to the parks. If not, we will consider some of the questions arising within the parks, and I have in my hand a list of the concessioners within the various parks. I see that Mr. F. J. Haynes is interested in some of the questions within this park, and we would be glad to hear from Mr. Haynes.
Mr. HICKEY. Mr. Haynes has been suddenly called away and he asked that I read a paper which be had prepared. With your permission I will do so.
The Yellowstone National Park was set apart from the public domain and placed under the control of the Secretary of the Interior by an act of Congress of March 1, 1872.
It is a tract of land near the headwaters of the Yellowstone River, in the States of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. It is 62 miles in length from north to south, 54 miles in width from east to west, and contains 3,348 square miles, or 2,142,728 acres. Its area is greater than that of the States of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.
The topography of this garden of wonders is what would be expected in a country filled as this is with lofty mountain ranges. It is exceedingly rough and broken except in the central part plateau, where there are large tracts of comparatively even surfaces. The great mountain ranges occupy the larger portion of the area.
The climate of the park is one of extremes and of a kind which tells heavily against the maintenance of its highways. In the spring storms are frequent, rainfall is as heavy as in the Eastern States, when all the conditions of a wet climate are present. In the later summer the rain almost wholly disappears, the surface of the ground thoroughly dries out, and the roads suffer more from the lack of moisture than they did from its excess.
In the winter this region is cloaked with an average snowfall of 6 feet, which suddenly disappears early in June. The waters from this melting snow, in finding a rapid course to the mountain streams, cause serious damage to the roadways.
Within this wonderland nature provided no natural roadways. The location, construction, and maintenance of the roadways is therefore of first importance in the present method of efficient transportation facilities.
Over 80 per cent of the park is covered with pine forests, often of great density, and in many places so filled with down timber that they are almost impassable.
In the composition of the rock and soil of which the roads have to be constructed the park presents a greater variety, in all probability, than any other region of like extent upon the face of the globe.
The materials at hand constitute a most annoying kind of road material in their natural state, the greater part of which, when used in road construction, can scarcely be driven over with heavy loads.
Such is a brief outline of the physical conditions which are encountered in the construction for transportation purposes of the mountain roads of the Yellowstone National Park. The necessity for these roads arises from the desire of the public to see the peculiar natural phenomena with which this region abounds and which first became generally known about 40 years ago. The Government, in setting apart the entire region as a public reservation for the benefit and enjoyment of the people, thereby assumed the obligation of making its points of interest accessible to the traveling public. About 27 years ago it began the development of a road system.
The sundry civil act of March 3, 1883, directed the construction and improvement of suitable roads and approaches, under the supervision of an engineering officer to be detailed by the Secretary of War, and in July, 1883, an engineer was designated accordingly. This was the beginning of systematic road construction in the park.
The sundry civil act of June 28, 1902, recognized this project and provided for its construction, and it was practically finished ending June 30, 1906. It comprises a belt line or main circuit which reaches all of the important centers of interest, with side roads, bridle trails, and two stage-line approaches, one from the western entrance and one from the northern entrance, including wagon roads to the eastern and southern boundariesin all about 350 miles of road and about 125 bridges.
The controlling points of interest which it was considered necessary to make accessible to all travelers are five in numberthe Mammoth Hot Springs, the Norris Geyser Basin, the Firehole Geyser Basins, Yellowstone Lake, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. These points are reached by what is officially known as a "belt line," about 150 miles in length, over which the stages of the two stage companies holding leases pass around this circuit to the left.
The roads of the park are primarily designed for the transportation of tourists; secondarily only for the hauling of freight. This purpose has controlled absolutely in the matter of location. Not only do the roads reach to the important centers of attraction, but the intermediate portions are carried where the best view of the surrounding country may be had.
The limiting gradient of the main circuit is 8 per cent and this is reached in only a few instances. It has been found that for the purpose of tourist traffic an 8 per cent gradient is not much more objectionable than one of 5 per cent. Beyond 4 per cent a loaded coach can not be hauled at a trot for any considerable distance. Whenever the speed is reduced to a walk it is found that a team will ascend an 8 per cent gradient nearly as rapidly as a 5 per cent. The elevation is thus gained more quickly. A lighter gradient can be safely descended at a rapid trot, but for anything higher a slower speed is necessary.
In dry weather, without being sprinkled, the roads become and are very dusty, which is at all times a serious problem contended with in transporting the tourists.
The sprinkling fund is frequently exhausted long before the close of the park season, necessitating a total suspension of the sprinklers, in the absence of which the light volcanic surface of the road is blown away, leaving the highways rough, and subjecting the tourists to many discomforts. The dust materially increases the ever-present dangers of accidents on the sharp inclines and curves.
A per capita franchise tax is imposed by the Government on the regular transportation companies. This tax is remitted to the Interior Department and is not available for park purposes without the sanction of Congress.1 The imposition of a similar tax on all visitors and freight outfits using the highways, if taken in connection with the annual appropriation, would provide a sufficient sprinkling fund for the maintenance of sprinklers for the entire park season. The tax so levied should be retained and disbursed by the officers in charge of the improvements and expenditures of the park.
The Yellowstone National Park is the pride of a Nation of 93,000,000 people and is dedicated in all its splendor to the world's people of all climes. To thus appropriate it was the noblest of national effort, but it was another thing and a vastly tedious and venturesome undertaking to have pioneered and paved the way to the complete accessibility and enjoyment by the public of this American garden of grandeur.
In the year 1881 Mr. F. J. Haynes, from the terminus of the Northern Pacific Railway at the junction of the Missouri River in North Dakota, turned his horse westward for 600 miles toward the vast unknown. In making this journey his personal safety was dependent upon his own vigilance while crossing the plains, which were then known as the Buffalo domain of freedom.
During this year Mr. Haynes observed in the park a small tourist party from England and Germany, who entered by way of Beaver Canyon from the Utah & Northern Railway terminus, 75 miles from the western boundary.
The first public transportation was by means of buckboards operated from the main line of the Northern Pacific Railway by Wakefield & Hoffman. In 1886 the Yellowstone National Park Transportation Co. was, under the hotel lease, operated by Wakefield & Haynes.
In 1892 the Interior Department granted a separate franchise to the Yellowstone National Park Transportation Co. This line was operated by Mr. S. S. Huntley and Mr. H. W. Child. Mr. Child is now the president of the Yellowstone Park Transportation Co.
In the fall of 1897, while on the summit of the Teton Range of mountains, Mr. F. J. Haynes and Dr. W. Seward Webb first discovered the idea of providing a regular transportation line from the western boundary, thus making more accessible to a large population a means of visiting this magnificent handiwork of nature.
As to the means of transportation in the park and as to the facilities of reaching the same, it is of interest to note the following in the report of Mr. P. H. Conger, superintendent of the park, for the year 1882: "A tourist entering the park might select the following routethe Union Pacific via Omaha and Ogden; thence by the Utah Northern to Beaver Canyon, where he takes a stage or private conveyance up the valley of the Snake River to the lower Firehole Basin, a little over 100 miles from the railroad [this point of entry is at present the western entrance], or he can take the northern route via St. Paul and the Northern Pacific to Livingston (Bensons Landing), from which a branch road is to be built, I am informed, early next season to the borders of the park, 65 miles from Livingston." This point of entry is now the northern entrance.
From this early beginning, with its attendant difficulties, to the present time the means of transportation and the facilities for reaching and passing through the park have steadily improved until to-day every known means of travel by horse is at the command of the tourist.
The transportation facilities employed in the park are a distinctive feature of this garden of paradise. The two regular stage companies holding leases in the park make the present trip of five days with 4-horse coaches and 2-horse surreys, traveling at a rate of speed not exceeding 6 miles per hour.
The number of miles traversed in a day's drive ranges from 9 to 40. On the long drives stops are made at noon for rest and luncheon at the lunch stations. As a protection against dust and against accidents on grades, drivers are instructed to maintain a distance of approximately 100 yards between coaches.
The Yellowstone Park Transportation Co., under a lease from the Interior Department, operates through the park from the terminus of the Northern Pacific Railway at Gardiner up to and over the belt line. This company has since its beginning operated from said entrance with an equipment sufficient at first to meet the demands and has steadily increased and maintained an equipment sufficient to comply with all demands of the tourists and of the Interior Department.
Since the completion of the Northern Pacific Railway to the northern entrance at Gardiner the trip of the tourist entering by way of the northern entrance with the Yellowstone Park Transportation Co., as outlined in Mr. Conger's report, is shortened by 130 miles, which consisted of rough staging outside the park.
The Monida & Yellowstone Stage Co., under a lease from the Interior Department, operates a regular transportation line from the terminus of the Union Pacific Railway at the station of Yellowstone at the western entrance through the park to all points of interest.
This western entrance was practically unknown until the advent of the establishment by Mr. Haynes, of the Monida & Yellowstone Stage Co., in 1898. Through the energetic and persistent efforts of Mr. Haynes in the fulfillment of his stewardship to the Interior Department the development, advantages, and convenience of the western entrance was brought before a large population heretofore unfamiliar with the beauties of the park.
In its first year, 1898, only 125 tourists entered through the western entrance that were carried by this line. At this time the Monida & Yellowstone Stage Co. operated from the station of Monida, on the Oregon Short Line Railway, a distance of 70 miles from the western entrance.
A large number of employees was necessary to meet the demands of all tourists presenting themselves at said entrance, although the travel was very light, and for periods of 12 days no tourists entered that were carried by its stages from the western entrance. Notwithstanding this fact, this company, as well as the other regular stage company, mantained an equipment of the highest efficiency, consisting of especially designed 4-horse coaches retaining many admirable features of the now historic old-style coach, combined with all modern features, opened at the sides for sight-seeing, suspended on leather thorough-braces, with covered baggage racks at the rear and supplied with heavy canvas curtains for protection against the elements, and equipped with lap robes, all being the highest standard capable of being constructed by the original Abbot-Downing Co., of Concord, N. H., for the comfortable, safe, and expeditious conveyance of passengers through the park.
By the individual and personal solicitation of Mr. F. J. Haynes, Mr. E. H. Harriman, president of the Union Pacific Railway, was induced to construct, at an expenditure of $3,000,000, a branch line from Idaho Falls to the station of Yellowstone at the western entrance, which line was completed and ready for passenger traffic at the opening of the tourist season of 1908. With the construction of this road an immediate increase of about 3,000 visitors to the park over the year 1907 through the western entrance was noted. Since the completion of the extension of the Union Pacific Railway to the western entrance the trip of the tourist entering by way of the western entrance, as outlined in Mr. Conger's report, is shortened over 200 miles, which consisted of rough staging outside the park.
The number of visitors to the park through the western and northern entrances since the year 1898 is as follows:
Visitors to Yellowstone Pork through northern and western entrances.
By the maintenance of fixed schedules by the Monida & Yellowstone Stage Co. and the Yellowstone Park Transportation Co. ample time is given the tourists at each point of interest; however, stop-overs are allowed at any of the park hotels without additional stage charges.
All passengers carried by the Monida & Yellowstone Stage Co. and the Yellowstone Park Transportation Co. are accommodated at the hotels of the Yellowstone Park Hotel Co.
The total number of stage coaches, surreys, mountain wagons, buggies, express and freight wagons used in transportation by the Monida & Yellowstone Stage Co. and the Yellowstone Park Transportation Co. is 375, with a total seating capacity of the passenger vehicles of 2,555 persons. In moving these conveyances about 1,200 horses are required.
During the short season from June 15 to September 15 for a period of at least two weeks after the opening and before the closing of the season there is not sufficient travel to employ 20 per cent of the transportation facilities of the Yellowstone Park Transportation Co. and the Monida & Yellowstone Stage Co. With the exception of this very limited season the entire transportation equipment is idle, unproductive, and burdened with an enormous fixed charge for maintenance.
The coaches accommodate 6, 8, and 11 passengers and the surreys 3 and 5 passengers. Private conveyances of the above sizes can be secured for any tour in the park, and the trip prolonged and the conveyances used for drives in the vicinity of the hotels. The companies maintain long and short trips so as to accommodate the wish and time of the tourist.
Tourists holding a short-tour ticket can arrange for extending their trip at proportionate rates. Mail and telegrams are forwarded to the hotel where the tourist is stopping. Twenty-five pounds of hand baggage is allowed each passenger. Trunks are stored without charge. Parties contemplating a prolonged stay in the park can arrange with the stage companies for transporting their trunks on express wagons.
The stations of Yellowstone and Gardiner are directly connected with all stopping points in the park by a system of telegraph and telephones, and in addition the Monida & Yellowstone Stage Co. maintains a private telegraph system from Yellowstone station to the Mammoth Hot Springs. Although many miles from railroad centers, the tourists are at every station in direct telegraphic communication with all points of the world. This thorough telegraph and telephone system is a substantial aid to the proper policing of the park.
The Monida & Yellowstone Stage Co. and the Yellowstone Park Transportation Co. have leases and rights within the park, which are accompanied by corresponding obligations, and in fulfillment of their obligations to the Government under these leases these companies have made large expenditures in special equipment of no other practical use except in the park. Their leases require them to keep sufficient transportation at all times for all the park travel, irrespective of the number of tourists traveling on any single day or in any season. They are required to keep an equipment of the first classhorses gentle and well broken, drivers sober, courteous, capable, and well informed as to the points of interest.
In addition to the above leases individual camp licenses are issued and permits for saddle and pack animals for use in connection with tourist travel through the park. Visitors may make use of their own vehicles as means of transportation and have free access to the roads of the park, with accommodation at the hotels.
The total number of people that entered Yellowstone National Park since any authentic record has been kept is about 300,000. This number is less than the population of the Twin Cities of Minnesota.
This naturally leads to the consideration of the location of the park and the railroad facilities for reaching the Yellowstone National Park through the western and northern entrances with reference to the population of the United States. The center of population is situated in latitude 39° 4' and longitude 86° 19'. It is the southeast corner of Monroe County, Ind., about 15 miles southeast of the city of Bloomington.
The Yellowstone National Park is bounded on the north by the forty-fifth parallel of latitude, which extends from a point a few miles south of Portland, Oreg., on the Pacific coast, to Eastport. in Maine, on the Atlantic coast.
From coast to coast the territory south of this parallel embraces 36 States wholly therein and parts of 10 other States, and contains in all an area of 2,524,333 square miles, or more than three-fifths of the entire area of the United States, including Alaska. This same territory contains a total population of about 85,419,248, or more than nine-tenths of the entire population of the United States, which is now served by direct railway to the park.
A continued agitation is being carried forward for permission to operate automobiles over the roadways of the park. This means of transportation, as applied to the park for the purpose of supplanting the horse-drawn vehicle, by experience has been found to be and is impracticable for many reasons, amongst which the impassable condition of the roads for long periods after the opening and before the closing of the park season, taken in connection with the narrow construction of the roadways and the ever-present and immediate danger to the life of the tourist in passing over the steep grades and sharp curves, coupled with the danger of frightening the horses by the sudden approach of the automobile or the unexpected back-firing of the engine or explosion of a tire.
Reliable statistics prove about 50 per cent of the visitors to the park make use of their own horse-drawn vehicle as a means of conveyance. The advent of the automobile would of itself necessarily result in a complete surrendering of the highways to automobile travel, thus depriving a large percentage of visitors access to the park and its roadways.
The foremost argument advanced by the individual auto owner desiring to use his own automobile for the tour is "that it would provide a more agreeable and rapid means of carriage." The experience of those familiar with the present method of transportation prove that the operation of a combination of automobiles and horse-drawn vehicles would necessarily result in a great loss of life, weighed, as it would be, on a scale founded on rapidity and enjoyment.
Less than 10 per cent of the transcontinental passengers touring the continent on railway lines adjacent to and passing the park ever enter this "Garden of Beauty," either because of the fact that the park tour consumes too much time and entails too many hardships or is too expensive. After an exhaustive study of the conditions, based upon reliable surveys, it has been found entirely feasible to construct wholly independent of the present highway system and without in any manner marring any of the natural beauties and curiosities of the reservation a rail line intercepting all the present points of interest and in addition embracing a vast territory of the park now unfamiliar to the tourist; also connecting with the present western and northern railway terminals and such railway terminals as may be established at the park boundary in the future if a connection can be constructed to the new terminals.
The contemplated use of gasoline motive power in self-propelled gasoline motor cars obviates the necessity of harnessing the waterfalls for power purposes or the extensive cutting or removing of timber for the erection of trolley wires.
These proposed steel-constructed, self-propelled, gasoline passenger cars have the capacity to accommodate from 12 to 74 passengers, with an ample baggage compartment, smoking room, lavatory, water-cooler, light, heat, and observation end, with every convenience of the modern standard parlor car.
As the safe, standard, modern, and ideal suburban car service, these cars have been heretofore adopted for practical use by the Pennsylvania, Rock Island, Union Pacific, and Southern Pacific and other railroad systems.
With the adoption of this means of transportation, the expense of the park tour would be greatly reduced and the comforts and enjoyments of the tourists greatly enhanced, thereby attracting a large class of tourists who at present will not undergo the present hardships incident to the tour. By this means of transportation all the travel to the present magnificent hotels, as well as the tourists desiring the less expensive camps, would be accommodated.
This equipment would also include special constructed cars for the rapid transportation of Government and hotel supplies, all of which are at present moved from the park entrances for distances ranging from 5 to 60 miles by means of expensive, obsolete, slow, horse-drawn wagon transportation. By the adoption of this means of transportation it would relieve the present roads of freight and passenger traffic and greatly reduce to the Government the cost of maintenance, at the same time making possible within proper restrictions the use of the present roadways by individual automobile owners with their own automobile as a means of private conveyance.
In the matter of the betterment and improvement of the present transportation facilities for the benefit of the traveling public, the Monida & Yellowstone Stage Co. and the Yellowstone Park Transportation Co. now, as in the past, are ever ready to cooperate with and meet all the requirements of the department. In this connection Mr. F. J. Haynes, as president of the Monida & Yellowstone Stage Co., heretofore secured the cooperation of Mr. H. W. Child, as president of the Yellowstone Park Transportation Co., and Mr. A. W. Miles, as president of the Wylie Permanent Camping Co., to finance, construct, equip, and operate this proposed modern means of transportation in the park if the same meets with the consideration and approval of the honorable Secretary of the Interior.
While substantial results have been accomplished such as were anticipated by the Interior Department in its adopted policies, there yet remains much to be done in the way of development by the Government so as to make possible the complete enjoyment of these "commons " by the owners, the people of the United States of America.
The SECRETARY. The paper which has just been read is very interesting and presents some new phases and suggestions. I think this would be a very proper time for discussion of the matters brought out in this paper. We would be very glad to hear from anybody in regard to any of the matters or suggestions touched on in the paper. I know you are not all of the same mind with regard to the use of automobiles in the park, so why be backward?
Mr. L. W. HILL. Mr. Secretary, the question of permitting automobiles in this park is a rather embarrassing question. I know there are probably a large number of automobile agents, sales people, who feel that it would be a good thing to have this park thrown open to automobiles. I have had some considerable experience in driving a car in the West, in Oregon, Montana, British Columbia, and through the Northwest. I carry a car with me and have one now down at the gateway, but should anyone ask me to take that car in the park I would feel very much embarrassed. I could take the car, make the trip, and be back for lunch. Now, what kind of a trip would that be? It would be useless until you had a tour of 1,200 or 1,500 miles. I think it would be absurd to put automobiles in here; it would make it possible to see the park in a short day. When I started from St. Paul to Helena, I arrived at Alexandria at half past 1; the tour was over for the daystart in the morning and before lunch the tour would be completed. That's the way I view it, and I am as much of an auto crank as any man. Then, there is another feature which has to be taken under consideration; to attempt to pass 4 and 6 horse stages down here on the road with automobiles would be folly. I would not risk it.
The SECRETARY. A very interesting expression of opinion. The Interior Department is in receipt of numerous requests to open the parks to automobile traffic. I would like to know if there is anybody here who is in favor of opening the park to automobile traffic.
Mr. MCFARLAND. A question which occurs to me is what would be the effect of the automobiles on the wild life of the park?
The SECRETARY. I take it that is an oratorical question. We want first to find some one who is in favor of opening the park to automobiles. May we then assume that the opinion is unanimous on this question? Then let us take up the other question suggested in the paper that a tax be used for obtaining funds for sprinkling the road. Is there anyone here in favor of that method of raising revenues? May we assume that the conference is unanimously against that method of raising revenues? Then there was the other suggestion in the paperthe construction of a railroad through the park to be operated by a gasoline-propelled car. Is there anyone here who is in favor of that method? If not, may we assume that the conference is unanimously against that suggestion? Then there were some other suggestions in the paperthere is much information in the paper which may be of great value. Those three points occur to me now. If anyone wishes to express an opinion on any other point in the paper we would be very glad to hear from him.
Assistant Secretary THOMPSON. The automobile question has been raised, and I take it that you may extend the question to the other national parks. I am ready to take a hand in that.
The SECRETARY. I intended to make it comprehensive. Yellowstone Park being the largest of our national parks, I assumed that Mr. Hill's point would apply to the others, as there are more roads in the Yellowstone than in any other. If, however, Mr. Thompson has anything to present or suggestions to offer on the use of automobiles in other parks, that is a very important question. We will hear from Mr. Thompson, Assistant Secretary of the Interior.
Assistant Secretary THOMPSON. Gentlemen, I am quite certain if Mr. Hill had thought that his remarks with reference to automobiles had applied to other parks as well as the Yellowstone he never would have made that speech, because I happen to know that he is vitally interested now in having built a road up in Glacier Park. Now, as to the advisability or not of allowing automobiles in this park, the Yellowstone, I do not care at this time to express a final opinion. There are a number of suggestions that would enter into a consideration of that proposition. Mr. Hill has stated that in this park the introducing of automobiles would make the tour of the park a half-day's job, and thereby absolutely throwing to naught a great part of the property that the United States in one way or another has induced concessioners to place and install in this park. That is one of the considerations that should enter into a discussion of this proposition. The other considerations applying to this park have been mentioned either by the Secretary or those who have spoken on the subject, but with the other parks different conditions obtain. For instance, Glacier Park is a new park. The Government is building there from the beginning. The peculiar formation and contour of that park is such that, in my judgment, an automobile road leading from both entrances would be advisable. The fact is that an automobile tour of that park would be out of the question, because of the impossibility of building such a road to the greatest points of mountain scenery, but from the station, Belton to Lake McDonald, the Government has already constructed a road 3 miles long up to the lake, and it needs only a bridge to make it a first-class automobile road.
There is now under consideration the construction of a road from Midvale, on the east side of the mountains, up to a point somewhere near the center of the park, or as far as they can go advantageously with that sort of road, so by that means the tourist may be brought within two or three hours to the very greatest points of interest in the park; then he must necessarily make the tour on horseback or on foot to see the great beauties of the park. With Mount Rainier National Park it seems to me conditions are entirely different and entirely advisable as to automobile traffic. There is but one point of interest in that park, and that is that great mountain standing there as it does a lofty citadel, snow capped, and bordered with glaciers. The tourists' sole object when they go to that park is to see and climb that lofty mountain, so that there can be no possible objection to taking them to the base of the mountain as quickly as possible and as comfortably as may be. The same conditions exist, in my judgment, with reference to Yosemite Park, although I think I will raise a discussion there with the superintendent of that park, and I realize that his point of view is better than mine. However, it does seem to me that the great advantagethe great thing of interestin that park is the Yosemite Valley and the two or three other points that may be reached upon the great canyon or cliffs, so that the tourist may look down on the floor of the valley, 3,000 feet or a little more below. It seems to me that there can be no objection, providing a proper road is built, to an automobile's going up to what is known down there as the floor of the valley. That would take the tourist from the railroad station at El Portal in the quickest time and in the most comfortable fashion. From that point he may travel out over the floor of the valley and over the mountains to his heart's desire, and the objection that Mr. Hill raises to the use of automobiles in this park would not exist there. Automobile roads could not be constructed in that park, so that a tour of that park could not be made in less time materially than it is to-day. Those, gentlemen, are my views on the automobile question in the parks that I know about. I can see a great many objections to introducing automobiles in the Yellowstone Park and I can also see some things favorable to permitting their use. I may add to what the Secretary has previously stated that a very great pressure is being brought upon the Department of the Interior to open all our parks to automobile traffic, and I am certain that the question will have to be thrashed out by that department sooner or later and a final announcement made of a definite policy on the subject. It seems to me, therefore, right and proper that during this meeting there should be an open, frank, and free discussion on both sides of the question of automobiles in the parks.
Mr. HARVEY. Is Mr. Thompson familiar with the situation in the Grand Canyon?
Assistant Secretary THOMPSON. No, sir; I am not.
Mr. HARVEY. That is a very interesting subject to us; we are very much interested in it there. It seems to me that it is important that the policy be determined.
The SECRETARY. Gentlemen, you have heard Mr. Thompson's remarks in regard to the other parks. Are there any others here who think that automobile travel should be provided for in the other national parks?
Mr. WALTER FRY, ranger, Sequoia and General Grant National Parks. In the Sequoia and General Grant National Parks automobiles are allowed under certain restrictions promulgated by the Department of the Interior. On some of the roads automobiles are permitted, but on others they are not, as, for instance, over the road from Mineral King, a distance of 12 miles, the road is so steep automobiles can not get over them. Then we have the Mount Whitney Power Co. road constructed by that company (that road has not been opened to travel to the general public); then we have a road leading into the Giant Forest, the principal point of attraction within the reservation at the present time. On leaving Three Rivers, the principal point of entrance to the Giant Forest Road, it is necessary to climb an elevation of 5,500 feet. This road is not sufficiently wide to permit both automobile traffic and teams at the same time. I know of no way of compromising the issue with these people other than to throw the Giant Forest Road open to automobile travel on certain days of each week. It would necessitate the travel of about 20 miles of road within the reservation after entering the western portion of the park. I consider this can be done without disadvantage to the department. It could be generally known throughout the community; our people could be notified that on certain days of each week automobiles would be permitted. As I said before, there is a great deal of pressure being brought on the officer in charge by the automobile associations in California. In the General Grant Park this year the rules and regulations have proven very satisfactory with regard to the automobile traffic, although there were a few individuals who objected to paying the toll that was exacted. The toll that has been charged has been quite sufficient to pay for the additional expense that has been incurred on the part of the department by reason of permitting the automobiles to pass through the reservation.
Mr. MCFARLAND. Can Mr. Fry state the restrictions that are placed there?
Mr. FRY. The roads within the General Grant Park over which automobiles travel cover a distance of about 5 miles. The department charges $1 for a round trip through the park, or $5 for the season, made applicable to persons who are not doing a general transportation business.
The SECRETARY. Are there restrictions as to speed?
Mr. FRY. Speed will be limited to 6 miles per hour, except on straight stretches where approaching teams will be visible, when, if no teams are in sight, this speed may be increased to rates indicated on signboards, at no time to exceed 15 miles per hour. When approaching teams, at all times to slow down and take the outer side of the road and shut off their machine.
The SECRETARY. This is a very important subject, and I would like to have the views of you people who have come here to this conference. For instance, take the Glacier National Park proposition. Should it be the policy of the Federal Government to build roads in that park which will permit of automobile travel as well as horse-drawn vehicles? Those are questions which are of great interest to us. Mr. Hill, Mr. Thompson has undertaken to state your position; perhaps you had better
Mr. HILL. I meant my remarks to be confined to the Yellowstone.
Assistant Secretary THOMPSON. Exactly; and the Secretary attempted to spread your remarks over the entire park situation.
Mr. HILL. The proposed road in Glacier Park is not entirely in the park. Three-quarters of it is through the Indian reservation. It would be impossible to build a wagon road or automobile road up in the park without going into millions of dollars of expense. The road we propose to build is up the east border of the park. It may be possible to build a road on the west side of the park up the Flathead. The idea of this road that we propose to build is to answer the same purpose that the railroad answers from Livingstone to Gardiner. I] think the people would much prefer it. I am very glad that Mr. Thompson made the trip through the park and that he is familiar with the situation. He is probably more familiar with it than anyone else here with the exception of Maj. Logan. People must see that park on horseback or on foot. The camps we have established are 12 miles apart with a view to having the people walk through if they wish, as they do in Europe. The road would be three-quarters off the park and one-quarter on it. The idea is to take the people from the train at Midvale and take them in stages or automobiles to Lake St. Marys; then take a motor boat up to the foot of Lake St. Marys up to the Continental Divideleave the train in the morning and get up to the lake for lunchsee that portion of the park in a day; you can come out in half a day with an automobile.
The SECRETARY. As I understand it, it is simply an approach. Do you know of any other park with which you are familiar in which a similar condition would exist?
Mr. HILL. Mount Rainier National Park. The people of Tacoma are very much interested in establishing an automobile road in Mount Rainier National Park. In fact, the people of Tacoma have taken the matter up with me.
Mr. MARSHALL. There are other places in Glacier Park that are equally as accessible. I think the people who went through the park with me last year will agree with me that the scenery around Bowman Lake and down to Lake McDonald in that section of the park is as fine as St. Marys, and over that road it would be very easy to construct an automobile road. Generally speaking, I think that the people must have some form of transportation so that they can get to the different points of interest and spend the time there instead of being on some stage as we traveled on to-day. The conditions in the Yosemite could be improved on. I think that we ought to have some means of transportation to satisfy those who want to get to their point quickly.
The SECRETARY. There seems to be more difference of opinion on this point than appeared at the beginning. Are there any others who desire to say something in regard to the use of automobiles in national parks?
Mr. W. G. STEEL, president Crater Lake Co. In regard to Crater Lake Park we feel that automobile transportation is our only means of salvation. Our park is a new one. Several flat failures have been made in trying to establish a stage line. Last year we maintained an automobile line to Upper Klamath Lake, connecting by steamer to Klamath Falls, and also maintained a line to Medford. The business is increasing rapidly. Last year we had three times as many visitors as the year before, and so far this year we have had three times as many as in 1910. Half the visitors to our hotels come in their own automobiles. I do not suppose we have had a dozen people this year who have come in their own vehicles other than automobiles.
The Government has just completed a survey of roads in the park, including one entirely around the lake, making a circle of 35 miles, keeping throughout as nearly as possible a uniform grade and following the rim when practicable. Previous to two years ago visitors came in their own vehiclesthat is, visitors from southern Oregon and northern California. There were only rare instances of anyone from elsewhere. After putting in automobiles we had people from the entire coastLos Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and other places, so that we feel that we must have automobiles for our park.
The SECRETARY. This subject will remain with us and probably come up for more appropriate discussion as the various parks are brought before the conference. I wish you would bear it in mind, because I would like to have your opinions. I myself have just had an experience of some interest in connection with automobiles. After leaving Washington I devoted some time to the inspection of irrigation projects and to matters pertaining to the Indian Office. I traveled a large portion of the distances in automobiles. In one day we traveled, I think, something like 125 milesin one instance there were three relaysso that I had a good deal of experience with automobiles on western roads.
As to the permitting of automobiles in the parks I have formed no conclusion. From the discussion just had there seem to be two very decided opinions on this subject. I confess I was rather surprised at first when I found no one in favor of granting this privilege. It is now reaching the hour for adjournment, and unless it meets with objection we will now adjourn and we will convene here in the morning at 9 o'clock for the next session, when we will resume at the point we left off this evening. Unless there is objection, we will adjourn until 9 o'clock to-morrow morning.
Last Updated: 03-Mar-2009