Cultures at a Crossroads: An Administrative History
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Area Developments

During its first decade as a national monument, from 1923 to 1933, Pipe Spring continued to be affected by developments taking place in national parks to the north and to the south. From 1924 to 1930, Pipe Spring was included on the Utah Parks Company's circle tour of Zion, Cedar Breaks, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon's North Rim. During those years tour buses regularly made scheduled lunch and rest stops at Pipe Spring. Motorists traveling in private automobiles also traveled the route from Zion to the North rim via the Rockville shortcut, passing by Pipe Spring. The event that proved most significant in Pipe Spring's history, in terms of visitation, was the completion of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway in Zion National Park.

Utah Parks Company buses lined up at Cedar City depot
37. Utah Parks Company buses lined up at Cedar City depot, ca. 1928
(Courtesy Union Pacific Museum, image 8635).

Zion National Park

On April 9, 1924, Congress authorized appropriations of $7.5 million over a three-year period for construction of roads and trails in the national parks and monuments. The Interior Department appropriation act of March 3, 1925, carried an additional $1.5 million for road construction in national parks. The new funds were immediately available, providing added impetus to the park road program. The Bureau of Public Roads conducted the survey for the Zion-Mt. Carmel road in September 1925. In March 1925 the completion of the 220-foot steel bridge that spanned the Virgin River and the regrading of 15 miles of road beyond the bridge at Rockville shortened the distance from Zion to the North Rim by 30 miles. Tourists and others heavily used the Rockville shortcut for about five years prior to the completion of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway.

The 1925 season was a significant one at Zion. It was the first highly advertised season, bringing 16,817 visitors - more than twice the previous year's visitation. The Utah Parks Company was ready by May 15 with its new two-story rustic lodge and 46 guest cottages. (The lodge was enlarged and an additional 15 cottages were built in the spring of 1926.) A new fleet of motor buses transported tourists from the railhead at Cedar City to Zion. Transportation to other scenic areas was provided by another subsidiary of Union Pacific, the Utah & Grand Canyon Transportation Company, whose motor fleet was also new. By the 1926 season, visitation at Zion had increased another 30 percent, enabling the Utah & Grand Canyon Transportation Company to maintain daily bus service to the North Rim via the Rockville shortcut.

In fiscal year (FY) 1927 Congress approved base plans to develop adequate road and trail systems in the national parks to modern standards which called for the ultimate expenditure of $51 million, in addition to $9 million previously appropriated. In FY 1928 Congress increased the authorization for park road construction from $2.5 million annually to $5 million annually. [504] It was during 1927 that construction work on Zion National Park's 25-mile road to Mt. Carmel began. This road, with its mile-long tunnel through solid sandstone, is considered one of the greatest pieces of road construction in the country. [505] Named the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, the highly scenic road was dedicated and opened to general traffic on July 4, 1929, with National Park Service Director Horace Albright serving as master of ceremonies. [506] Utah's Governor George H. Dern presented the formal dedication speech, and a chorus of 30 men from St. George furnished musical entertainment. The new road finally made Zion National Park directly accessible from the east. Visitation rose from 33,383 in 1929 to 55,297 in 1930, an increase of 65.6 percent. [507] Another event that occurred at Zion National Park in 1930 was an expansion of its east and south boundaries through an act of Congress on June 13, 1930, adding 17,900 acres to the park.

Tourists boarding buses at Cedar City
38. Tourists boarding buses at Cedar City, ca. 1928
(Courtesy Union Pacific Museum, image 8634).

The Grand Canyon's North Rim

For the most part, no development took place at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon until the mid-1920s. Before that time, the vast majority of visitors went to the Canyon's South Rim where both administrative and tourist developments were concentrated. [508] There was a Wylie camp at the North Rim in 1919 (as there was at Zion National Park) but little else. [509] By 1922 stage trips were available every other day from Lund and Marysville alternately, to Cedar Breaks, Bryce Canyon, Zion, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. [510] In 1924 plans were tentatively outlined for Park Service facilities that called for development of a water system and construction of several ranger cabins at Bright Angel Point, as well as area road and trail developments. Director Stephen T. Mather favored tourist accommodations at the North Rim to be camps rather than hotels: "This area should be kept exclusively for the benefit of nature lovers and for those who are willing to forego such conveniences as room with bath in order to visit it." [511] It would not remain so primitive.

During FY 1925 surveys were completed for the installation of water development at Bright Angel Point on the North Rim. A ranger cabin and support buildings were constructed. In 1925 visitation to the North Rim was up 110 percent over the prior year. [512] Camping at the North Rim was limited in 1925 and 1926 because water sources had yet to be developed. Poor roads in southern Utah and northern Arizona also played a part in limiting travel to the North Rim. Finally, funds were authorized for use in FY 1927 to develop a water system at the North Rim. Water from two springs was to be collected and pumped to a tank at Bright Angel Point, then distributed by gravity to nearby campgrounds.

In 1927 the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park were changed, adding 51 square miles of the Kaibab Forest on the north. Also that year, a government contract was awarded to Utah Parks Company to construct a lodge and cabins at Bright Angel Point. The Company had already purchased the Bright Angel Camp from Elizabeth McKee, operating it during the 1927 season. Construction of a new lodge at Bright Angel Point at the North Rim began during the winter of 1927-1928. Leonard Heaton noted in his journal for the month of January 1928, "Large UP trucks pass every day for the Grand Canyon or back for Cedar City." [513] Heavy rain in early February made the road from Zion to Fredonia so soft and muddy that Heaton reported, "Two UP trucks four days on the road from Hurricane, Utah to Fredonia, Arizona, 65 miles." [514] By May Heaton reported tourists were starting to come through on their way to the North Rim, in addition to heavy freight traffic: "Lots of trucks passing hauling freight to the Grand Canyon for the UP. Also lots of tourists coming, on an average of six cars a day." [515]

Officials at Pipe Spring
39. Officials at Pipe Spring, en route to the dedication of Grand Canyon Lodge, September 1928.
From left to right: Heber J. Grant, Stephen T. Mather, Carl R. Gray, Utah Senator William King, Harry Chandler, and Jonathan Heaton.

(Pipe Spring National Monument).

On September 14, 1928, the Utah Parks Company dedicated its new Grand Canyon Lodge at Bright Angel Point. An entourage of officials, most of whom were important in the creation of Pipe Spring National Monument, stopped at Pipe Spring en route to the dedication of the new lodge. A photograph taken at Pipe Spring that day shows Church President Heber J. Grant, Director Stephen T. Mather, Union Pacific's President Carl R. Gray, Utah Senator William King, Los Angeles Times Publisher Harry Chandler, and Jonathan Heaton, patriarch of the Heaton family and prior owner of Pipe Spring (see figure 39). [516]

At about the same time as the completion of Grand Canyon Lodge, the Kaibab Trail was completed to the North Rim, making it possible to travel by horse from the South Rim to the North Rim in one day instead of the two days previously required. By 1929 the Utah Parks Company added five, four-room deluxe cabins to the lodge complex at the North Rim. During the 1929 season, the Grand Canyon Lodge and cabins were open from May 28 to October 6. The company reported a very successful season in their first year of operation at the North Rim. The opening of the North Rim to tourists was a very important advance. To some, the North Rim was more attractive than the South Rim and much less congested. The road to the North Rim from Utah is of great scenic beauty, through the aspen and pine forests of Kaibab Plateau. Travel between the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon, as well as general park-to-park travel in the Southwest, was soon greatly facilitated by the completion of a steel bridge which crossed the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry. The Navajo Bridge opened on June 15, 1929.

Bryce Canyon National Park

A congressional act of February 25, 1928, increased the area to be included in Bryce Canyon National Monument and changed its name to Bryce Canyon National Park. The new park contained 22 square miles and was overseen by the superintendent of Zion National Park. Under an agreement reached with Union Pacific, the company's private holdings were deeded to the federal government. State lands within the area were exchanged for other lands outside the park boundaries.

Visitation to Bryce Canyon during FY 1929 was 21,997. (By contrast, Pipe Spring National Monument had an estimated 24,883 visitors that year, and Zion National Park 33,383. [517] The completion of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway had an immediate and positive effect on Bryce Canyon's visitation, which increased in 1930 to 35,982, an increase of 63.5 percent over 1929. [518] All the efforts to improve roads and promote southern Utah's parks appeared to be successful, for Zion's visitation too had more than doubled since 1925. Improved driving conditions, advertising, and the growing popularity of the automobile contributed to a significant increase in the number of visitors to national parks and monuments by the end of the 1920s. While increased visitation to southern Utah and northern Arizona sites had been a chief goal of Mather and Albright, rapidly rising numbers of visitors created additional strain on Park Service caretakers and on scarce financial resources. More people meant demand for more camping space, more parking space, more toilet facilities, and — perhaps most challenging in the Southwest — more water.

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Last Updated: 28-Aug-2006