Pictured Rocks
An Administrative History
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The Pictured Rocks were finally accorded national recognition due to the reinvention of the Upper Great Lakes region. During the years after World War II, the northern portions of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan transformed themselves from a raw, resource-rich frontier for extractive industries into the "North Woods," a scenic, recreation destination for millions of Midwesterners. This remarkable metamorphosis was spurred by two related, if sometimes contradictory, forces: the desire to preserve the forests and waters of the region, and the desire to utilize those features as the basis for a thriving tourist industry. Like the ice and water which made the Pictured Rocks over the centuries, preservation and economic development would become the principal forces shaping the land during the second half of the twentieth century.

Inventing "The North Woods"

The Upper Great Lakes region is forest country. It was forest country when the glaciers retreated 10,000 years ago, it is forest country today. What has changed over time is the nature of the region's forests and the way people have perceived the deep, dark woods of the north. To Henry Rowe Schoolcraft the region was a menacing tangle of trees. He wrote of "dark hemlock forests" which were "dreary, and forbidding to the eye." To men of Schoolcraft's generation the dense ranks of trees, covering mile after mile of the landscape, were a stark and arresting contrast to the cleared, cultivated countryside of "civilized" America. "One cannot help fancying he has gone to the ends of the earth," Schoolcraft observed, "and beyond the boundaries appointed for the residence of man." Thirty years latter lumbermen from New England saw the forests as a remarkable economic asset and set out to make the Upper Great Lakes "the greatest timber-producing region in America." In so doing, the first generation of lumber men skimmed the cream off the top, taking the tall stands of pine and reducing them to dimension lumber. The second generation, with the aid of more capital and technology, attacked the groves of hardwood trees. Between what the logging railroads removed and what the inevitable brush fires destroyed, whole tracts of the region were reduced to a cut-over wasteland over which, to quote one woodsman, "a wood-pecker would have to carry his lunch." [35]

Although the soils of the region were low in fertility and high in acid the cut-over lands were marketed to immigrant farmers. "Cloverland" was the phrase the Upper Peninsula Development Bureau used to lure potential dairy farmers to northern Michigan. Driven by a deep-rooted desire to own their own land immigrants took the bait. By 1911, more than 8,000 farms had been established in "Cloverland." The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted, "The Upper Peninsula is destined to become one of the best dairy sections of the United States." But a slump in demand followed the end of World War I. This was followed by a decline in the logging industry in the region, which took away an important local market for cut-over farmers. Between 1920 and 1930, the amount of sheep and cattle on Upper Peninsula farms declined by eighty percent. The average farm in northern Michigan could only claim forty improved acres, not enough to sustain family during hard-times. Backwoods farmers fought not only indifferent soil and a short growing season but rising real-estate taxes. By the 1930s many farm-landowners were facing tax bills which had escalated eighty-five percent in twenty years. Hundreds of failed farms joined thousands of acres of other cut-over land as tax delinquencies and reverted to the control of the government. During 1925, the state of Michigan received on an average one hundred acres a day. [36]

The irregular topography of the Pictured Rocks region for the most part discourage agricultural operations. Axel Abrahamson was one of a handful of exceptions. In 1915, he received 160 acres of land at the east end of the lakeshore via the Homestead Act. Daniel Becker who had a farm at the far western end of the lakeshore was another successful agriculturalist in the area. Both farms owed their success less to crop raising and more to the production of dairy products for local markets. Becker built a rather unique fourteen-sided, wood and concrete barn for his dairy. The structure was torn down by the Park Service in 1975. [37]

The disaster created by "cut-and-get-out" logging and the fantasy of "Cloverland" was mitigated by the rise of government-sponsored conservation and the growth of tourism. The two developments are necessarily linked. Conservation efforts by the State of Michigan in the Upper Peninsula began in 1917 with the establishment of the Lake Superior State Forest. In 1931, the federal government recommended the establishment of the Ottawa National Forest in the western Upper Peninsula and the Hiawatha and Marquette forests in the devastated eastern region. Under the New Deal's Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.) these government timber lands were extensively replanted. The Michigan Department of Conservation, the U.S. Forest Service, and the C.C.C. all played a heroic role in containing and then virtually eliminating the waves of forest fires which for almost fifty years had raged across the Peninsula each dry season. By the end of World War II, the north country was recovering its mantle of green. The forests were scraggy stands of aspen and jack-pine, what lumbermen disparaged as "weed-trees," but at least the scar tissue was forming. Besides to many urban tourists, a tree was a tree. [38]

During the late 1940s and early 1950s, there was an explosion of tourism in the states of the Upper Great Lakes region. The war delayed the impulses of many consumers while post-war prosperity produced increased leisure time and improved highways. By 1949, sixty-two percent of all Americans were taking vacations. For large numbers of urbanites from Detroit and the cities at the south end of Lake Michigan the forests and lakes of the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin were possible destinations for the first time. For generations those Chicagoans of modest means who could afford a Michigan vacation were directed to the near-by Lake Michigan resort towns of Union Pier, South Haven, and St. Joseph. Widespread automobile ownership gave Chicagoans a wider range of possible destinations. The opening of the Mackinac Bridge in 1958 made the region more accessible to motor tourists. A survey by the State of Michigan in 1952 indicated that high on a visitor's wish list of things to do were, fishing, camping, hiking, and general sightseeing. Television advertisements which described the area as the "land of sky-blue waters" indicated that tourist's desires could be met in the north country. [39]

The affluence of post-war America and the remarkable baby-boom which accompanied it served to direct some of the new flow of tourists to the purchase of summer vacation homes. Inland lakes and streams which previously had largely been valued for their use in transporting logs now became valued recreational assets. Thousands of urbanites became rooted in the northern lakes country and began to personally identify with its fate. The desire to enjoy a quality environment, at least for the summer, had long been restricted to the upper crust of society. Such an urge had been behind the "Great Camps" built at the turn of the century and the rise of the early conservation movement. But, during the 1950s, a broad cross-section of working America could afford summer homes in the Great Lakes states. The tourist boom had a distinctly egalitarian character. The image of northern Michigan and Wisconsin as "the North Woods" was created by urban Midwesterners resettling a reforested landscape. [40]

The first cottagers in the Pictured Rocks area were local people. As early as 1904 businessmen in Munising or Grand Marais began to build summer homes at some of the most picturesque locations in the area. Miners Beach and Grand Sable Lake were particularly popular nodes of development. During the 1920s the local cottagers were joined by a trickle of sojourners from Chicago and the cities of lower Michigan. William Donahey, a well-known cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune built a summer home on Grand Sable Lake. In 1929, industrialist William Boller of Chicago did likewise. George Hughes of Ithaca, Michigan built a cabin on the lake in 1932. All three of these families established deep, long-standing attachments to the Pictured Rocks area. [41]

While thousands of ordinary Midwesterners, from factory managers to the men on the shop floor, were building summer homes and spending vacations on the shores of northern lakes, an intellectual shift was taking place. The "North Woods" became a landscape valued not for what mines or mills could make of it but as something special in and of itself. A certain amount of this sentiment was turf protection by vacationers who used lake associations or sportsmen's clubs to influence local political decisions. But there was also a more profound appreciation of the environment that stirred sojourners who owned no lakeshore property. No one captured the voice of this sentiment better than nature writer Sigurd F. Olson. In The Singing Wilderness (1956) and The Listening Point (1958), Olson reflected on "North Woods" as a land of the imagination as well as a real, complex environment. In Olson's writing the North Country is a strong, vital, patient force capable of using time to heal itself. At one point he contemplates the logging of an island in northern Minnesota: "Though I knew that time heals scars and islands raped will be green again, that logging roads through fire and destruction would someday be charming runways through the woods and new vistas be as beautiful as the old, still I could not wait. All I knew was here and now." While trying to appreciate the north in an ecological-historical perspective Olson also emphasized the power of woods to restore the spirit and waters to encourage reflection. "I must leave it as beautiful as I found it," he wrote about the site of his cabin. "Nothing must ever happen there that might detract in the slightest from what it now had. I would enjoy it and discover all that was to be found there and learn as time went on that here perhaps was all I might ever hope to know." [42]

The depth of emotion that summer cottagers began to attach to the north woods is illustrated by the memoir of James R. Bailey, a lower Michigan resident who grew-up spending his summers at a cabin on Grand Sable Lake. "When I was a child growing up in Ithaca, Michigan, it seemed that my whole life was consumed with my next visit to the Cabin. I found security in the fact that the Cabin was there, no matter what happened in my life I knew that the Cabin existed, in all its beauty, in the harsh Grand Marais winters, the grizzly Canadian winds and the unpredictable Spring rains. It was there alive, not only in my memory but in reality, I didn't have to actually be there, just knowing it was there added to the comfort level of my state of being." Ironically, in 1985 Bailey lost his family cottage to the Nation Park Service's land acquisition program. [43]

The invention of the "North Woods" resulted in emergence of the Upper Great Lakes region as a place of retreat and meditation rather than heavy natural resource exploitation. The works of Sigurd Olson as well as others such Helen Hoover's The Long Shadowed Forest (1963) and Edward Lueders' The Clam Lake Papers (1977) helped to cultivate a strong preservation ethic among the large population of summer, visitors to northern Michigan. For the people who lived in northern Michigan these developments brought much needed economic stimulation, yet at a familiar price-loss of control. Just as the region's old extractive economy had been managed from outside the Upper Peninsula, so would the tourist industry give the people of Detroit, Chicago, and Milwaukee a large voice over development issues. [44]

Early Efforts to Preserve the Pictured Rocks

The first efforts to set aside the Pictured Rocks as a special natural area began and ended with the community of Munising, Michigan. Located on the south shore of Munising Bay, the town thrived as a logging center from 1896 into the 1920s. In 1904 the Munising Paper Company was formed to take advantage of the considerable forest resources of the area. This manufacturing concern was later joined by the Munising Woodenware Company, which developed a national reputation for the quality of its wooden bowls. The town's success at attracting manufacturing, in part, insulated it from the economic hard times that rocked most of the Upper Peninsula. The area's long-term prospects were also buoyed by the careful management of 300,000 acres of Alger County forest lands by the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company. The company experimented with selective logging and for a short time sponsored a forestry school and a tree planting program. While the neighboring town of Grand Marais declined from 3,000 to 500 residents when the logging boom ended, Munising was able to sustain itself with a modest but stable manufacturing base.

During the winter of 1923, a group of Munising area sportsmen contacted P.J. Hoffmaster, the Superintendent of State Parks for Michigan. They proposed that the state Conservation Commission consider the establishment of a combined state park-wildlife preserve in the Pictured Rocks area. To promote and protect the Pictured Rocks was no doubt part of their agenda, but the principal emphasis of Munising's request was to protect white-tailed deer habitat. Beaver Basin, a low-land located east of the Pictured Rocks, offering forests, swamps and three inland lakes, was described as "an ideal game refuge for it contains the three major essentials -- food, water and cover or protection." [45]

State officials were intrigued enough to visit the area in June of 1924. P.J. Hoffmaster viewed the Rocks from a tour boat. "A proper and just description," he noted in his report, "of this highly colored and fantastically carved rock formation requires the pen of a poet." But as Hoffmaster was a bureaucrat cognizant of the power of sportsmen in the conservation movement and not a poet, he did not devote much attention in his report to the Pictured Rocks. The prospect of a game refuge for deer was featured prominently in his favorable report to John Baird, the Director of the Department of Conservation. "To say the least about the project," Hoffmaster noted in summary, "it can be placed among the foremost for merit--both as a game refuge and state park." The Michigan Conservation Commission agreed and by a unanimous vote approved the creation of the park-refuge. [46]

While the state of Michigan entered into the task of creating a Pictured Rocks state park with enthusiasm, it also did so with little in the way of development funds. The state park scheme was the dream of the cash-strapped Conservation Commission, not the will of the legislature which controlled the purse strings. The creation of state parks was even a low priority for the agency, which was focused on fire prevention and the creation of economically viable state forests. Hoffmaster pushed the Pictured Rocks proposal so strongly because he was assured by the plan's Munising backers that a large part of the park area might be turned over to the state "by local persons and corporations." Just a year earlier the state received a large gift of Isle Royale real estate to create a park. Hoffmaster hoped for a similar "angel" to step forward for the Pictured Rocks. [47]

Initially, the Munising community rallied behind the state park idea. Alger County donated to Michigan twenty-seven acres of land around Miners Castle, one of the outstanding features of the Pictured Rocks. In 1926, the Tourist Committee of the Munising Development Club worked with township authorities to put a trail through the forest to Miners Castle, providing visitors for the first time with land access to the Pictured Rocks. That same year the Munising Development Club planned to show off the scenic highlights of their area to the Detroit Commercial Club's summer cruise. More than five hundred big-wigs arrived on the luxury steamer Noronic. But heavy fog not only prevented any Pictured Rocks vistas but actually kept the Noronic from even docking in Munising Bay. Weather robbed the town of a chance to influence the type of people who could rouse the state to take an aggressive role in the development of the park. By 1926, it was apparent that state funds were critical to the success of the plan. Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company, one of the largest land owners in the area of the proposed park, had no intention of donating its holdings. Rather, the Company was investing heavily in building logging spurs in the Munising area. Maintaining timberlands was critical to their plans in Alger County. Perhaps for this reason the Munising Development Club seemed to have lost interest in the proposed park. [48]

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the state of Michigan did little to act upon its resolution to make the Pictured Rocks a state park. Alger County continued to "operate" the Miners Castle site for the State. Tax revisions gave Michigan control over 185 acres of additional land within the proposed park, but that was the only action taken. There was little attempt by Munising to use public or political pressure to urge more energetic development. This lack of pressure proved fatal to the proposed park.

The lack of support for the Pictured Rocks proposal was in stark contrast to that received by the Tahquamenon Falls State Park proposal. In 1926, the state first began to consider plans for a 6,340 acre park along the upper and lower falls of the Tahquamenon River in Luce and Chippewa counties. Local boosters backed the project with enthusiasm and built support for the project throughout Michigan. The Wolverine Conservation Association, a sportsmen's group based in the Upper Peninsula made the success of the Tahquamenon proposal their number one priority. The town of Newberry entertained Conservation Commission members when they visited the area in August of 1928. Luce County printed 10,000 promotional brochures in 1929. Such brochures were provided to Detroit publications and outdoors organizations. In 1931, over 40,000 brochures were distributed to Mackinac Island tourists. As a result Tahquamenon Falls became a major tourist destination and, in 1936, the state received the transfer of 2,284 acres of Cleveland-Cliffs land for park development. World War II stalled the Tahquamenon project, but local support remained strong. Finally, in 1947, Michigan opened a much expanded 40,000 acre state park. While the Pictured Rocks proposal remained hopelessly stalled and all but forgotten, Luce County pushed their park proposal through to completion. [49]

The tourist boom of the 1950s reawakened the Conservation Department's interest in the Pictured Rocks. Once more state officials trekked north to inspect the project area for themselves. Once more they were visibly impressed. A 1953 staff report described the area as "one of the most significant sites in Michigan." Maps were made and preliminary development plans were drafted for the state park. "Here in the region of the Pictured Rocks," the Conservation Department resolved, "is an area with all the attributes of an outstanding state park--superlative natural beauty that should be preserved for the lasting enjoyment of the people and to the economic benefit of the region." Yet, the project never progressed past the mapping stage. [50]

State resolutions in 1931 to develop Grand Sable Dunes as a state park were equally as ineffectual. The Grand Sable project had the illusion of some progress because more than 1,500 acres of dune land had reverted to the state for tax delinquency. There was no state money appropriated for the purchase of the dunes. The fact was that Michigan's state parks were in a state of crisis throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. In 1953, the year the state renewed its interest in the Pictured Rocks, the existing state park system was swamped with more than 14 million visitors. Yet, the legislature appropriated to the Conservation Department little more than 10 cents per visitor to pay not only for all maintenance but to fund new facilities as well. The state tried to solve the revenue crisis in recreation by instituting an annual $2.00 state park admission sticker for automobiles. But the need for funds outstripped that source of revenue. By 1959, the cash shortfall was effecting the entire state government. Democratic Governor G. Mennen "Soapy" Williams proposed a corporate profits tax as a way to reinvigorate state programs. Naturally the Republicans did not take kindly to this initiative and responded with a proposal to increase the sales tax. In the dispute that followed, Michigan became a financial shambles. A joke from that period claimed that the favorite drink in the state capital of Lansing was "Michigan on the rocks." [51]

In spite of Michigan's financial woes, the amount of state park acreage more than doubled between 1948 and 1972. That expansion took place elsewhere than the Pictured Rocks and Grand Sable Dunes because those areas remained remote from the masses of southern Michigan who frequented the state park system, there was no emergency threat to the scenic values of either the Rocks or the Dunes, and other areas had greater political persistence and clout. The Porcupine Mountains were made into a state wilderness park ahead of the Pictured Rocks in part because the virgin hardwood forests of that area were threatened in the 1940s by logging companies. Yankee Springs State Park received development funds even during the worst years of the crisis because of its proximity to population centers such as Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Lansing. "What about the Rocks?" a Munising News editorial asked in 1954 when other acquisition and development projects were funded. The sad but true answer was that Alger County had neither the size nor strength to make a space for itself at the crowded trough of the state budget. [52]

The Great Lakes Shoreline Recreation Area Survey

Federal involvement with the creation of a park at the Pictured Rocks began with the Great Lakes Shoreline Recreation Area Survey. The project had its roots in New Deal recreation planning. The National Park Service was given a greater role in regional planning and additional funding through the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1934 and 1935, the National Park Service embarked on a study of seashore conservation on the Atlantic, Gulf, and later the Pacific Coasts. The studies recommended fifteen possible sites for inclusion in the national park system. One of these sites, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, was actually pushed through to creation. Philanthropist and businessman Paul Mellon, son of the former Secretary of the Treasury Andrew W. Mellon, played a critical role in making the land available to the National Park Service. The authorization of other shoreline parks was forestalled by the outbreak of World War II. But shoreline planning was reinvigorated and expanded to the Great Lakes region during the bold Mission 66 development program. [53]

Mission 66 was a ten year program begun in 1956. Its purpose was to expand and upgrade facilities within the national park system by 1966, the fiftieth anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service. Conrad Wirth, the Park Service director who initiated the program, worked on the shoreline survey of the 1930s. He revived the survey idea and made it part of the Mission 66 program. Although Mission 66 was budgeted at $786,545,600, the Park Service did not have funds to do the shoreline survey. That program was funded privately by Paul Mellon and Alisa Bruce as part of their on-going interest in conservation issues. The Mellon heirs would later fund the establishment of the White House Rose Garden, the landscaping of Lafayette Park, and the purchase of Cumberland Island, North Carolina, but the most important contribution they made to their country was the funding of the second shoreline survey. [54]

Paul Mellon had a strong personal interest in the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. He met frequently with Park Service planners and on occasion went into the field with them. Mellon did not have as strong an interest in the Great Lakes although Director Wirth ensured that the heartland shoreline, even though it had been ignored by the 1930s program, would be included in the new survey. The man who was charged with the Great Lakes Shoreline Recreation Area Survey was Allen T. Edmunds, a twenty year veteran of the National Park Service. [55]

Allen Edmunds was an excellent choice for the task of assessing the shoreline features of the Great Lakes region. He was a native of Michigan and a graduate of Michigan State University. His career in the agency, which began in 1937, had been built on working on state and regional planning. In 1954 and 1955 he spearheaded the Atlantic and Gulf Coast studies, during which time he won the confidence of Director Wirth and Paul Mellon. Edmunds based the survey in the Philadelphia office, as the Great Lakes were then regarded by bureaucratic geographers as being part of the Northeast region. As he began the survey, Director Wirth reminded Edmunds that it had taken fifteen years to make even one national park out of the original shoreline survey. If nothing came of the Great Lakes survey, the Director cautioned Edmunds, "don't be discouraged." [56]

Edmunds went at the Great Lakes project with enthusiasm and energy. Like the preservation by state and local authorities. Only very rare, outstanding quality sites were to be considered for national park status. E. Winton Perkins was the chief of party for the survey team which included Howard Chapman as recreational planner; Donald Humphrey, biologist; and James Sullivan, historian. In the spring of 1957, teams of Park Service planners undertook an aerial reconnaissance of the 5,480 miles of shoreline in the region. This was followed by an on the ground inspection. In August, Perkins and Chapman investigated the Pictured Rocks area. By use of an automobile they were able to visit Miners Castle, Au Sable Falls, Grand Sable Dunes, and Grand Island. Through the aid of the Coast Guard they were able to view the Pictured Rocks from the water. "Initial reactions to this 32-mile stretch of undeveloped shoreline is one of extreme importance," the reconnaissance team reported. "Its individual features are definitely of state park caliber and when combined into one unit they appear to have national significance." Edmunds immediately understood that the Pictured Rocks were one of the region's principal assets. He ordered "a concentrated effort should be made by every member of the Survey staff to examine this whole area in order to report on every aspect of its potential use." [57]

Edmunds and a larger survey team inspected the Pictured Rocks in May, 1958. A helicopter flight provided planners with an overview of the entire area. Perhaps they were inspired by what they saw because the initial plans for the park were bold and expansive. They recognized Twelve Mile Beach as an outstanding resource that could be used as a connecting link between the Pictured Rocks and Grand Sable areas Grand Island, with its cliffs and forests, was recognized as a natural continuation of the Pictured Rocks environment. Their reports were also critical of the state of the few developed sites in the area. They found foot paths badly eroded, parking lots overflowing, camping facilities almost non-existent, and telephone poles strung across the dunes. While Edmunds could not let his team spend too much time on any one location, it was clear by the end of the second visit that the Pictured Rocks merited consideration for inclusion in the national park system. [58]

The final report of the Great Lakes Shoreline Recreation Area Survey was completed in 1959. A year later a brief public document, titled Our Fourth Shore, was presented that summarized the survey's findings. Edmunds and his team made thirteen specific recommendations:

1. A minimum of 15 percent of the shoreline of the Great Lakes should be in public ownership, around urban areas the figure should be 20 percent.

2. Marshes and swamps may not be scenic but they require protection as a wildlife area.

3. As natural areas gradually disappear, examples of outstanding biotic communities become more important for preservation and study.

4. Historic sites along the shoreline also deserve to be protected and interpreted.

5. When military or Coast Guard facilities are decommissioned they should be dedicated to public recreation.

6. Great Lakes islands need to be protected as ''unspoiled settings and biotic laboratories for the future."

7. Facilities for boat dockage on the Great Lakes should be a major public concern.

8. Except for a few outstanding, outlying sites recreational resources should be concentrated near major cities such as Detroit, Chicago, and Cleveland.

9. Near urban areas consideration should be given for creation of additional shoreline recreation sites via landfills.

10. Port sites should not be developed in conflict with recreational values.

11. Development of existing scenic highways "should receive careful planning and controls to prevent unrestricted development which could adversely affect or destroy existing intrinsic values. Alignment of any future lakeshore highways should be carefully planned so as not to restrict ultimate development of existing and proposed areas.

12. Water pollution threatens recreation and biotic values. Legislation and enforcement are required.

13. In view of their possible national significance, further study should be given to Pigeon Point, the Huron Mountains, the Pictured Rocks, Sleeping Bear and Indiana Dunes to determine the best plan for preservation. [59]

Our Fourth Shore was in many ways a visionary document. Of the five specific areas recommended for possible federal protection, four would eventually make their way into the national park system. Edmunds and his team appreciated the links between cultural and natural resource protection as well as the need to balance environmental protection with the development of a tourist industry. The report marked the beginning of a major and rapid shift of the National Park Service into the Great Lakes region. Before the report there were only two existing national parks in the region, Isle Royale and Perry's Victory National Monument. In the two decades which followed the report six major new national parks were established in the Great Lakes region. Thereby, giving the National Park Service a chance to directly serve the 40 million people of the region.

The weaknesses of the report reflect the era in which it was written. Our Fourth Shore over-projected the impact of the recently completed St. Lawrence Seaway on the Great Lakes. Although the Seaway did indirectly trigger a construction program that horribly scared the Indiana Dunes that process was not repeated elsewhere. The Edmunds team also over-projected the prospect of "urban sprawl" along the lakes. Although the growth of suburbs has been considerable, economic hard times in the 1970s and 1980s prevented "unrelieved urban areas...from Milwaukee along the Great Lakes to Buffalo." The report was also clearly hobbled by what one historian called "the conservative position" of the Eisenhower administration on conservation issues. Dwight D. Eisenhower had personally approved Mission 66 but he was not engaged in other conservation issues. Only two national parks, a recreation area and several historical sites, were created during Eisenhower's two terms, despite explosive population growth. His Secretary of the Interior, Fred A. Seaton, instructed Edmunds to recommend no more than three sites for national consideration from the combined surveys of the Atlantic, Gulf, Pacific and Great Lakes. Clearly Edmunds had not been given a mandate to make a grand plan. [60]

Secretary Seaton's narrow vision may in part account for the Shoreline Survey's somewhat cool response to the Apostle Islands. Local boosters had consistently urged the National Park Service to create a park among the islands and Lake Superior shoreline of the Bayfield Peninsula in northwest Wisconsin. The survey urged state development of beach parks on the mainland as well as the creation of a park unit on only one of the twenty Apostle Islands. While the Apostle Islands, thanks largely to the aggressive backing of Senator Gaylord Nelson, were eventually made into a national park, the Huron Mountains, which the survey did consider to be of national significance, never were seriously considered by the National Park Service. The granite domed Huron Mountains were a marvelously preserved slice of the North Woods with twenty two miles of undeveloped Lake Superior shoreline and picturesque upland lakes. The survey determined that the area offered "resources for public use and enjoyment of unusual variety and scope." But the private Huron Mountain Club had both the wealth and political connections to quietly ensure that no further studies were undertaken to develop a national park. [61]

Of all the areas visited by the survey the Pictured Rocks were the most highly rated by the survey team. "By virtue of its unique and spectacular scenery--unmatched elsewhere on the Great Lakes," the survey reported, Pictured Rocks merited further study by the National Park Service. "To preserve these extraordinary and unique features for public inspiration and enjoyment, it is recommended that prompt and progressive steps be taken to: (1) combine all of the primary features into one planning unit, (2) acquire the private holdings either by purchase or exchange and (3) develop a major park that will benefit not only the people of Michigan but the people of the entire country." [62]

While the members of the survey team were elated by the quality of recreational and scenic sites located by the project, they concluded their efforts with a sense of discouragement. There was little in the way of funds available for the creation of new parks. Yet, as one of the authors recalled, "our report gave a developer everything they needed to know to ruin the best areas in the region." In a preliminary evaluation of Pictured Rocks which was stamped "Not For Public Release,'' the team warned: "pressures for development are increasing. Visions of a chrome-plated, picture windowed lodge perched on top of Grand Portal is distressing to contemplate....such intrusions are entirely within the realm of possibility." [63]

The state of Michigan had already demonstrated its inability to develop a preservation plan for the area. Yet, the lack of appreciation of the scenic qualities of the Pictured Rocks finally became an asset. There were no elite private interests, as was the case with the Huron Mountains, to preempt consideration of national park status. What remained to be seen was whether the Pictured Rocks could command the political support both in Michigan and in Washington to become a national park? [64]

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Last Updated: 05-Apr-2002