Rocky Mountain
Administrative History
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When created in 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park contained within its 229,062 acres of land over 11,000 acres of private inholdings. These inholdings consisted primarily of patented lands, based on Homestead, Timber and Stone, and Pre-emption entries, and of a number of irrigation ditches, reservoirs and mineral claims in the name of private parties and corporations. [1] On the west side of the Continental Divide, the private land holdings extended from Lulu City to Grand Lake. On the east side they were located principally in Moraine Park, Hallowell Park, and Beaver Meadows. Most of the land suitable for human use, including every meadow, was privately owned. Then as a result of subsequent boundary extensions, an additional 2,000 acres of private land became incorporated within the Park. Yet by 1965, the total amount of inholdings had been reduced through government purchases and exchanges to 2,300 acres. [2] What follows is the story of the land purchases, the boundary extensions and adjustments, and the people affected by these actions during the Park's first 50 years. A subordinate part of the story concerns changes in Park concession policies and some road building activities made possible or necessary by land and visitor developments.

Initially, the Park administration granted permits for continued operation of the six hotels, lodges and camps that had operated on federal land when the Park lands had been part of the Colorado National Forest. [3] At the same time, there were nine other hotels within the Park's boundaries, all located on private property and therefore not under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.

In addition to the prompt grant of lodging permits, there also was almost immediate effort to enlarge the Park's boundaries. In 1916, Representative Charles B. Timberlake of Colorado's third congressional district introduced a bill in Congress to add the area of Gem Lake, Twin Sisters Peak, and Deer Mountain to the Park, a total area of 25,256 acres. After considerable debate the bill passed both houses of Congress and received President Wilson's signature on February 14, 1917. This law caused the boundary line to be moved eastward, in some places as much as four or five miles. As a result, a considerable area of additional private land in the vicinity of Estes Park and the Longs Peak district was included within the Park boundaries. Several tracts included in the expansion had formed isolated pockets in the Colorado National Forest, yet the Department of Agriculture had offered no objections to the passage of the bill. This addition of 43 square miles eastward increased the Park's area to 397-1/2 square miles. [4]

The enlargement of the Park brought new problems of traffic control, camp supervision, sanitation, and fire protection, requiring an increase in the ranger force and the assumption of additional financial burdens. The Park's annual appropriation of $10,000 was hardly adequate to meet the expanded needs. Secretary of the Interior Franklin Lane considered the appropriation sufficient only for the administration and protection of the Park. He doubted whether maintenance work on the trails or other improvements could be carried on unless the operating funds were increased. [5]

Regardless of skimpy appropriations, Park officials moved ahead with a limited land acquisition program. In March 1920, Superintendent L. C. Way secured a deed from a Dr. H. R. James for land upon which to erect an entrance station on the Fall River Road. Way also continued a previously begun survey of private holdings along the recently completed High Drive Road, looking toward their eventual purchase. The great majority of the property owners agreed to accept government purchase, if the price were right. Only a relatively few residents were downright hostile. They belonged to a small group of Park critics who grumbled publicly over the boundary expansion of 1917, with its inclusion of private lands. The spiritual leaders of this group were Clem Yore and Enos Mills. [6]

The appropriation for the Park in 1924 provided for the acquisition of additional inholdings. One tract obtained under this appropriation comprised 20 acres intended for use as a utility site, located two miles from Estes Park and just inside the Park boundary. Previously, the nearest government land on which shops, warehouses, stables, and road camps could be located was approximately seven miles from Estes Park and inaccessible during the winter months. The new site was accessible the year round and permitted the grouping of shops and utility buildings at a central point. Superintendent Roger Toll declared that the new utility site would facilitate the efficient handling of construction and maintenance work in the Park. [7]

While gaining land in 1924, the Park also lost some. Farmers living east of the Divide needed additional water for irrigation and wanted to dam the Cache Ia Poudre River on the northern edge of the Park. The center of the river marked the northern boundary of the Park and the southern boundary of the Colorado National Forest. Prior to 1915, a farmers' association had filed for a reservoir site on land soon to be included within the Park's boundaries. After 1915, the area to be flooded by the dam, which would be constructed in the Park, contained no unusual scenic qualities. Park officials were assured that no speculative or power interests would be served by the project, but only lands of the farmers composing the mutual association.

Neither officials of the Park Service nor Interior Department had any objections to the reservoir. [8] But since the Secretary of the Interior had no right to authorize the building of a dam in a National Park, a bill was introduced into Congress to have 345 acres of Park land transferred to the National Forest, where dam building was allowed. Sponsored by Representative Timberlake and approved by the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture, the bill passed both houses of Congress without debate and was duly signed by the President.

In 1925 further changes in the Park's boundary were suggested by a Special Coordinating Committee organized by President Calvin Coolidge's Commission on Recreation. The Committee recommended two land exchanges between the National Park Service and the Forest Service, and a revision of the eastern boundary of the Park, as created in 1917, to eliminate certain lands held in private ownership. Representative L. C. Cramton, Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Interior Department Appropriations proposed that this boundary be moved westward for an average distance of 2 or 2-1/2 miles, thereby eliminating 2/3 of the private property in that region from the Park. The proposed new boundary line was quite irregular and yet it would have retained much of the Park's government land in the area. [9]

While visiting the Park in July 1925, members of the House Appropriations Committee explained their stand on the proposed adjustment. For example, Representative Cramton opposed retaining privately held land within the Park's boundaries, particularly land which had been platted for cottage sites and extensively improved by the construction of cottages and other buildings not of a public nature. The members of the Committee were opposed in general to making liberal appropriations for the Park, and especially opposed to appropriations for the construction and maintenance of roads through private property. They believe that such roads should be built and maintained by the state and county which received revenue from taxing the property. The majority of the Committee, however, did not advocate returning the boundary to the 1915 line, so some private lands could remain in the Park. These properties could later be bought with government appropriations, if the land were not too highly priced or extensively developed. Generally, the Gem Lake and Deer Mountain regions were to be retained within the Park, while the land in the vicinity of Twin Sisters was to be transferred to the Forest Service. [10] Yet despite all the investigation and planning for this attempt at boundary adjustment in 1925, Congress delayed acting on it for another year.

Another proposed change in the Park's boundaries became the subject of negotiations between the Forest Service and the Park Service, through conferences held by Colonel Allen S. Peck, District Forester, and Roger W. Toll, Park Superintendent. They sought to arrange the transfer from the Forest Service to the Park Service of an area on the headwaters of the North Fork of the Colorado River in the region of the Never Summer Range. The tract included the area between the Park boundary near Specimen Mountain and the crest of the Continental Divide. In exchange, the Forest Service would receive a strip of land 3 miles wide along the north end of the Park. But this exchange failed to materialize.

By far the most controversial adjustment involved the extension of the Park's boundary to the south. In 1925, also, it was proposed that the Forest Service transfer to the Park Service the high mountainous country between the south boundary of the Park and the Arapahoe Glacier. This adjustment would bring into the Park the St. Vrain glaciers, a part of the crest of the Continental Divide, and the Arapahoe Glacier, itself. Both Services agreed that the recreational and scenic values of this land exceeded its timber and grazing values. In exchange, the Park Service proposed to transfer to the Forest Service an area rich in timber lying south and southeast of Grand Lake. [11]

The Arapahoe region had been considered for inclusion in the Park when the bill for its creation was under study. But at that time, some critics thought there might be extensive mining developments in the region, so the area was omitted from the final bill. Later, in the negotiation over the 1925 proposal, it was agreed that certain private interests would be protected. The proposed boundaries would not include the extensive mineral development in the vicinity of Ward, Colorado. Individuals holding grazing permits on land to be transferred to the Park, would be assigned areas of equal value in the lands to be given to the Forest Service. Superintendent Toll thought it was probable that the holders of grazing permits could either be given satisfactory areas in other locations, or could have their existing permits extended for two or three years. The percentage of private property in the proposed additions to the Park was small, and it would not be affected by inclusion in the National Park. Tentative approval to these boundary changes were given by the Forest Service, [12] but when the proposal became publicly known, opposition developed near the affected area.

The opposition centered in Boulder, where certain interests were satisfied with the type of administration by Forest Service provided for the Arapahoe area, and were inclined to question if anything could be gained by a change of administration. In the Forest Reserve, mining claims could be filed upon and patented; permits could be secured for the construction of reservoirs and pipelines could be built for irrigation and power; grazing permits could be secured and timber sales obtained. If the area were included in the National Park such services, in all probability, would not be allowed. Furthermore, under the administration of the Forest Service, considerable trail construction had been done and the area was being developed for its recreational value. [13]

Superintendent Toll and Colonel Peck of the Forest Service met with members of the local chambers of commerce throughout the region to explain the proposals and to allay the fears expressed by special interest groups. Toll informed his listeners that toll roads would not be allowed if the people were opposed to them. He declared that he favored the development of the Arapahoe addition as a trail area, un-marred by many roads, and that mountain clubs could continue their hiking if the region were taken into the Park. Toll also urged the local chambers of commerce, as a public service, to finance the establishment of lodges at scenic spots on the trails. [14] He assured Boulder that it would continue to control its own water supply, and predicted that the National Park would give publicity and help to bring business to the town of Boulder. Using many of the same arguments, Colonel Peck tried to reassure Boulder citizens that in no way would they be injured by the boundary change. [15]

The opposition to the boundary extensions, nevertheless, became vocal and well organized. Despite the fact that the region's metal mining industry was moribund, the Boulder Grubstake Association and the Boulder Metal Mining Association warned that the mineral regions of Boulder county would be adversely affected by the extension. Stockmen of Gilpin and Jefferson counties also "strongly protested" the boundary move. Officers of the Boulder County Stockgrowers Association, and the Longmont Chamber of Commerce—all were opposed. The Boulder Chamber of Commerce approved a resolution condemning the proposed boundary extension by a 49 to three vote. A local newspaper estimated that the citizens of Boulder disapproved of the change by a majority of 15 to one. [16]

Perhaps the most articulate—though not always rational—opposition came from the newspapers of Boulder. Some examples of their editorial policies follow:

It is Boulder's sacred duty to itself to oppose having the Arapahoe Glacier area taken out of the National Forest, because, for two major reasons, the fair, liberal policies of the Forest Service help Boulder while the restricted, discriminatory policies of the National Parks Service aid in keeping visitors away from Boulder . . . . It is fine to cooperate when co-operation involves no sacrifice of principle and duty. But it is ruinous for a city to want to co-operate for the mere sake of co-operation. There would not have been any United States of America if peace and co-operation had been exalted before justice and right.

The Boulder News-Herald, November 25, 1925. [17]

The park is already overgrown, And National Park interests are and always will be determined by what Estes Park wants . . . . Anyway we were here before the National Park was.

The (Boulder) Daily Camera, November 30, 1925. [18]

Boulder citizens are not short-sighted in this matter. They seek to protect their city's fundamental interests just as Greeley or any other alert municipality would strive to safeguard its welfare. There is so much that is wrong with administrative policies and regulations of the National Park Service that Boulder will vigorously fight to be kept from being sacrificed on the destructive altar dedicated to federal red tape and monopoly.

The Boulder News-Herald, December 2, 1925. [19]

Boulder county now receives thirty-five cents on every dollar that goes into a forest department for grazing and timber. If the park boundaries are extended, the county will lose this revenue.

The (Boulder) Daily Camera, December 5, 1925. [20]

Further inflaming Boulder's opposition was the widely believed rumor that the Rocky Mountain Parks Transportation Company was behind the boundary extension. Many Boulderites had not accepted as fair the government's grant of a monopoly to this firm to run sight-seeing cars and buses in the National Parks. Some local residents still felt injured by the outcome of the transportation controversy in the early 1920's. At a joint meeting of the Boulder Grubstake Association and the Boulder Metal Mining Association the following comments were heard:

The scheme in the background is for the . . . Transportation Company to frame a route from Denver over Lookout mountain to Idaho Springs through the Rollinsville country to Nederland and over the mountains to Estes Park. Boulder will be forgotten. . . .The Transportation company doesn't give a one cent's worth for Boulder. It is interested in its own string of hotels. . . . The transportation company is the nigger in the woodpile. [21]

In an effort to save the proposed southward extension, Superintendent Toll appeared before a meeting of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce on December 3. He suggested that the watershed of North Boulder Creek, from which the water supply of the City of Boulder was taken, and which also contained nearly all of the patented mining claims in the proposed addition, might be omitted from the area to be joined to the Park's southern boundary. [22]

Meanwhile, a bill embodying certain boundary changes had been introduced in Congress, and when it was passed, and then signed by President Coolidge on June 9, 1926, that ended the debate over any proposed southern extension of the Park. The purpose of the bill was to eliminate some of the extensive private holdings along the Park's east boundary, generally in line with recommendations made by the Cramton committee in 1925. The bill excluded 12,100 acres from the Park, of which 10,711 acres were privately owned lands and 600 acres were state school lands. Most of the lands in private ownership lay adjacent to the Village of Estes Park, with a small amount near the Longs Peak Inn. The National Park also lost 80 acres of land on its north boundary to permit the construction of a reservoir at Mirror Lake, which heretofore had straddled the Park boundary. As compensation, the Park received about 80 acres of land surrounding Twin Sisters Peaks. All of the other proposed boundary changes were left out of the final bill. The effect of the bill was to reduce the total area of the Park by approximately 20 square miles. [23]

In the midst of the excluded area on the Park's east side, the Park did however retain two separated tracts. One was the 40 acre tract used for a utility area. The other tract was government land on the slope of Twin Sisters, on which the Park Service maintained a fire lookout. Then too, not all of the privately owned land was eliminated from the Park by the 1926 Act, for approximately 9,100 acres of inholdings remained. Practically all of this property was unimproved, however, and Park officials thought that much of it would eventually be acquired for campgrounds and for the protection of the landscape. [24] Not surprisingly, Park officials continued to try to acquire the remaining private lands, either by purchase or by land exchange. In 1927 they obtained the purchase of the 80 acres of the Hewes-Kirkwood placer claim in the Longs Peak district. More significant, though, was a land exchange, perfected with one of the Park's original pioneers, Abner E. Sprague. Through a special act of Congress, the government transferred to Sprague a 160-acre tract of land in Glacier Basin on which Sprague's Hotel was located. In return, Sprague ceded to the government 80 acres of land including the lake at the entrance to Loch Vale, and 120 acres including Lake Mills, at the entrance to Glacier Gorge. Government ownership of the two lakes was considered an important factor in the planned development of Glacier Gorge and Loch Vale. The Park Service wanted to avoid the building of summer homes and the establishing of private enterprises around the lakes. [25]

Two years later, the government tried a new tack in the purchases of private lands in all National Parks, by attempting to obtain half the funds required from philanthropists. Congress provided $2,750,000, with the condition that an equal amount be subscribed by private donors. Private donors balked, however, for they believed that the government should round out the existing Park with its own funds. But if the plan had been successful, it would have been especially significant for Rocky Mountain National Park, which still contained one of the largest acreage of privately owned lands of any of the National Parks. [26]

In 1930, the Park Service undertook to reacquire much of the land excluded in the June 9, 1926 boundary revision. A bill sponsored by Colorado Representative Edward T. Taylor, authorized the President, upon the joint recommendation of the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture, to extend the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park along physiographic lines so as to permit development of the Park's road system and easier administration of the Park. The areas subject to the authorization were the pending Never Summer Range addition, 14,144 acres, located adjacent to the Park's west boundary in the National Forest, and the pending Grand Lake addition, comprising 960 acres, also along the Park's west boundary. East of the Divide were the pending Fall River Valley addition of 520 acres, which formed a block-like indenture in the east boundary just above Estes Park, and the pending Big Thompson Valley addition, comprising 6,920 acres, forming an indenture irregular in shape in the east boundary, southwest of Estes Park. [27]

If authorized, the Never Summer Range addition would bring into the Park more land of a U-shaped loop formed by the Continental Divide and containing the headwaters of the Colorado River. One-third of this area, which possessed great scenic and geological interest, already lay within the Park, and 2/3 in the National Forest. Further more, this addition was required to permit the new Trail Ridge Road to be constructed entirely within the Park's limits. The proposed Grand Lake extension would bring in suitable flat lands for Park developments, as well as permit the extension of the Park's road system. [28]

The two sections of land along the east boundary consisted chiefly of land which had been eliminated from the Park by the Act of 1926. However, after the State of Colorado had ceded jurisdiction over its lands in the Park to the federal government, the Park Service planned extensive developments in the area. Furthermore, it was thought that some of the previously excluded private lands might have to be brought back into the Park to permit proper development of its entrance roads. According to Representative Taylor, many of the landowners whose property had been excluded in 1926 were asking to be re-added to the Park in order to share the benefits of the new roads. The Park Service was already spending $1,000,000 on road development in the Park and was planning to spend another million. [29]

The Taylor bill, as approved on June 21, 1930, authorized the President to incorporate up to slightly more than 35 square miles of land into the Park. In accordance with the Act, a month later President Hoover added to the Park the Never Summer Range Area, comprising an area of just over 22 square miles, but he failed to act on the other pending additions. [30] The acquisition of the Never Summer Range permitted Park Service officials immediately to advertise a contract for a $500,000 extension of the Trail Ridge Road through a district affording relatively easy grades. [31]

About the same time, Albright announced that the Park Service would allow no new concessioners to operate in the Park, and that many of the existing concessions would be removed, "if the co-operation of the community is forthcoming." His plan was to eliminate all concessioners, except those holding the transportation franchise, if the businessmen of Estes Park village provided for the needs of visitors. [32]

The following year, the Park Service took the first step toward eliminating the 45 privately owned hotels, camps and lodges located on patented land in the National Park. It promptly acquired the Horseshoe Inn property, of 120 acres, on the Highdrive Road in Horseshoe Park, placed under contract a tract of 80 acres on the Trail Ridge Road and began negotiations on several other tracts. [33] During late 1931 deals were completed for the sale of 1,870 acres of the Pieter Hondius property in Beaver and Horseshoe Parks, and for the E. S. Allen and Abner Sprague properties on the High Drive. By the end of the year the government had either acquired or was in the process of acquiring more than 3,000 acres of land in Moraine, Beaver, Horseshoe, and Tuxedo Parks and in areas surrounding the Trail Ridge and Bear Lake roads. [34]

Superintendent Edmund Rogers explained that some of the Park's resorts, such as the Moraine Lodge and Horseshoe and High Drive Inns, were to be torn down to "preserve natural scenic beauty, especially along the new highways, and to make preserves for deer and elk." Some resorts, however, such as Brinwood Ranch-Hotel, Sprague's Lodge, Stead's Ranch, Jack Woods Camp, and Bear Lake Lodge were to be purchased and then leased to private operators on 20-year contracts. Rogers also announced that a three-year $150,000 trail-building program would begin immediately, with the trails extending to the boundaries of Estes Park Village. Resurfacing and oiling of government roads would consume another $500,000. [35]

In 1932, the Park Service acquired more lands in and around Rocky Mountain National Park. By a presidential proclamation signed on January 11, approximately 3,075 acres were annexed, principally in Moraine Park and along Beaver Creek, thus providing additional winter range for deer and elk. [36] Shortly thereafter, the government acquired by 20 voluntary sales, title to 4,414 more acres in the meadow land along the Thompson River drainage, at a total cost of $435,316.00. An additional 240 acres were placed under contract for purchase. [37]

The Estes Park Trail, alarmed at the government's vigorous land acquisition program, questioned the survival of Estes Park itself:

Will Estes Park become a close[d] corporation in another ten years? Will the National Park continue its encroachment until it surrounds the village and leaves it no room to expand? Will lots become increasingly more valuable since there would be no further land for subdividing?

The department of the interior has a complete and comprehensive program laid out for the development of the national parks and the existence of this village will not be permitted to stand in the way of this development. [38]

The Park Service experienced several setbacks in its land acquisition program. One of them occurred when Representative Timberlake introduced a bill in May 1932 for adding 5,650 acres to the Park along its eastern boundary. [39] But due to an error in drafting the bill in the Washington office of the Park Service, the extension included the famous Stanley Hotel, the Estes Park Chalet and numerous summer houses. "Almost overnight" objections came from the Estes Park Chamber of Commerce, the Estes Park Real Estate Board, the Larimer County Board of Commissioners, as well as chambers of commerce of Loveland, Longmont, and Fort Collins. To the emotional argument against the inclusion of the Stanley Hotel in the Park, there were objections to removing $500,000 from the taxable property of the region and blocking the possibility for the future expansion of Estes Park village. [40] Though it was reworked to exclude the Stanley Hotel, the bill became pigeonholed in committee.

Another setback came in late 1935 when the Secretary of the Interior suggested the desirability of incorporating the Arapahoe Glacier area in the Park. Immediately cattle raisers in Grand County, working through the East Fork Stock Association, filed their objections with the Colorado governor and the trial balloon soon collapsed. [41] About the same time, another proposal which died aborning concerned the acquisition of Grand Lake. On October 1, Superintendent Edmund Rogers met with representatives of the Estes Park and Grand Lake Lions Clubs, and found that there was "strong agitation" among the residents of Grand Lake against the extension, so shortly the plan was shelved. [42]

The depression years were frustrating to advocates of boundary changes. Concessioners in the Park found that the effects of the depression were serious but not fatal. Business, though slow during the early 1930's, picked up steadily and by the summer of 1936 was considered "excellent." [43] With business "looking-up," a new operator's building, the Trail Ridge Museum at Fall River Pass, financed by the Rocky Mountain Motor Company, was opened on June 20, 1937. Furthermore, by 1938, the Park Service believed it was timely to seek further Park expansion by acquiring three areas. The first included a 3-1/2-mile strip of privately owned lands along the eastern boundary, and the second, a 4-mile strip along the Thompson River. These proposed additions totaled 80 square miles. A third tract, of 54 square miles, lay directly adjacent to the southern boundary of the Park but was not as large as that under consideration 12 years before. [44]

At the request of the Secretary of the Interior, Representative Taylor introduced a bill (January 14) to authorize acquisition of the three tracts. Soon thereafter, Park Superintendent David Canfield found that local sentiment seemed to be "mildly in sympathy" with the proposed additions, although the majority of the area's residents appeared apathetic. [45] Within a month, however, substantial opposition had formed. Those fighting against the legislation were in general the same groups that had blocked the earlier attempt at a boundary extension southward—the Stockmen's Association, the State Mining Association, and the Estes Park School Board. [46] Also the fact that President Roosevelt, whose land policies were opposed by many western Republicans, had thrown his support behind the bill did not enhance its chances in this Republican neighborhood.

From the standpoint of rallying support, the proposed legislation came up at an awkward time. Superintendent Canfield noted that the great majority of the people in the region had little patience with the Park Service because of its opposition to the Colorado-Big Thompson diversion project. To explain the Park's position on the proposed boundary extensions, he and members of his staff spoke at public meetings in various valley towns throughout the spring of 1938. There was one particularly "touchy" meeting in Boulder which Canfield, John McLaughlin, and Regional Director Thomas J. Allen, Jr., attended. Canfield later remembered that the hall was filled with "wild cowboys and miners with liquor on their breath and fire in their eyes." His comments were poorly received and he was jostled as he tried to leave. [47] Understandably, Canfield was disturbed by what he found in public sentiment. He reported that "educational and 'missionary' work on the part of the part of the Service is the only answer I can see." [48]

Superintendent Canfield soon proved to be a master at "missionary work." From the first he kept his office in Estes Park open the year round, whereas earlier superintendents had moved their operations to Denver for the winter months. He met with the Park's severest critics periodically. After the critics became personal friends with the youthful superintendent, he believed they found it harder to criticize the Park's programs. [49] Canfield was also a joiner in local organzations, and he had some of his subordinates follow suit in order "to put out the smoke before they became blazes." [50]

He was aided in his efforts by the Park's public relations man, Ernie Rostel, and Canfield himself became good friends with most of the valley town editors. [51] After a while, area editors confirmed stories about the Park with Canfield, before printing them. Moreover, Canfield promoted talks by the able public speakers on his staff, notably Chief Naturalist Ray Gregg, so that an "awful lot of good missionary work" was done by them. [52] Yet despite all of Canfield's efforts, no gains were made in behalf of Representative Taylor's bill throughout 1938. The Regional and Washington offices of the Park Service gave little support to the Park's embattled and eventually embittered superintendent. Meanwhile, the Estes Park School Board gave him little rest. [53] At year's end, the proposal died in Congressional committee for lack of sufficient support.

During 1939, the contest was renewed. The local School Board continued to send out letters requesting that residents lodge protests with their congressmen against any boundary extension, although by May, the Estes Park Chamber of Commerce threw its support to the parkway plan that was to accompany the eastern boundary extension. [54] And then in June, Senator Henry F. Ashurst of Arizona sponsored a resolution authorizing a thorough investigation of all questions relating to the proposed enlargement of the Park. The resolution, which was approved, appropriated $6,000 for the purpose. During August, the Congressional investigating group came to Estes Park High School Auditorium. The sessions attracted several hundred spectators and interested parties. [55]

Representatives of organizations on both sides of the issues, as well as individuals representing only themselves, were heard. The major opposition came from the Colorado Metal Mining Association, the Colorado Stock Growers' Association, and the Grand County Commissioners. Support for the boundary extensions was offered by scores of local residents and such organizations as the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Northern Colorado Conservancy District. [56] From the opposing types of testimony, one point stood out, namely, praise for the Park administration. The Trail reported on

the practically unanimous high regard in which the National Park Service was held. There was no suggestions at any time that the Park Service was other than highly interested in the development of Colorado and this region as a vacation center for the entire country. [57]

But compliments, while welcome, do not pass legislation, and at year's end the Park extensions remained propositions rather than facts. Despite further Congressional study the following year, no further action was taken until 1941. [58] Superintendent Canfield could report that, "It was thought doubtful if any favorable action could be expected in the near future." [59]

While the proposed boundary extensions had been under consideration, the Park had continued to purchase private lands. During the 1939 fiscal year options had been secured on lands needed in the construction of the western section of Trail Ridge Road, and a year later, title was acquired to three estates covering 562 acres of land. In making these and other purchases, the Park Service did not "pressure" the landowners. In fact, the owners were anxious to sell, even impatient at delays encountered in the negotiations. Superintendent Canfield worried lest past delays in consummating land purchases would jeopardize the success of future deals. [60]

Then in mid-August 1941, interest in the Park's southern extension and eastern approach road flared again before being tabled for the duration of the World War. A new bill was introduced in the senate embracing both issues, and another senate investigating committee journeyed to Estes Park. In contrast to the bitterness and hard feeling aroused at the hearing in 1939, the proceedings in 1941 were relatively calm. Many of those who had vehemently opposed the parkway two years before now testified that the construction of a new approach road was of paramount importance to the entire community. [61] Before the hearings closed, the committee recommended that Superintendent Canfield make a new survey of the proposed roadway between the Park Service headquarters and the Thompson River entrance. Senator Carl Hatch of New Mexico reported that the members of his committee were "deeply impressed" by the need for the new approach road. A proposed 1,080 acre extension on Fall River and the southern extension were dropped from consideration, however. [62] Thereafter, all boundary discussions were suspended for the duration of the war.

After the end of the war, the demand for summer home and cabin sites in the Park caused the value of its private lands to more than double. Several important tracts changed hands at greatly inflated prices. Superintendent Canfield, who returned to the Park in 1946 after serving in the Navy, did not expect that land and building values would ever drop back to their pre-war levels. He estimated that the sale value of the 6,000 acres of private land in the Park would amount to nearly $1,500,000. During fiscal 1946, the Park Service made a study of these lands and then prepared a tabulation under the categories "Urgent," "Important," and "Long Range." [63] Canfield believed that the private land problem was "one of the most serious" the Park faced. He noted a general tendency to subdivide and parcel out for home construction land which included the natural feeding grounds for the Park's wildlife. He warned that funds were needed immediately if the situation was to be remedied.

In reality, the regular appropriations were skimpy and did not cover the operating expenses of the Park, let alone allow for an ambitious land purchase effort. Due to lack of funds, Canfield could not hire sufficient Park personnel to guard the entrance stations. Ironically, the Park administration could not even collect its own entrance fee, which since 1939 had amounted to $1.00 per vehicle. All other national parks had also collected a fee, ranging up to $3.00 per vehicle at Yellowstone. Canfield estimated that with an additional appropriation of $3,500 the Park could have collected another $10,000 in entrance fees. [64]

While the Park was hard pressed for funds, the various hotels and lodges within its boundaries were enjoying a booming business. To purists in the Park Service, over-night accommodations and homestead buildings were inconsistent with the purpose of national parks in general and Rocky Mountain National Park in particular. Buildings in the Park, such as the various lodges, became destinations in themselves, focal points of human use. And extensive human use tended to modify or destroy the peculiar habitat of the area. Human habitation often compromised other values. [65]

Superintendent Canfield, nevertheless, considered that hotels were necessary parts of the Park's operation. He believed that they would not interfere with the Park's routine as long as their total capacities did not increase to more than 300. To him, people who stayed at these overnight accommodations gained a better "park experience" than tourists driving to the Park from lodgings outside the boundaries. He believed that the concessioners should be granted long-term contracts at the expiration of their current leases. [66]

On the other hand members of the Park Service Concessions Advisory Group, which visited the National Park in August 1947, favored short-term leases, stiff improvement requirements, and the eventual elimination of overnight accommodations within the Park's boundaries. [67] And their views were gradually put into practice. Perhaps it is significant of the trend that the owner of Forest Inn decided to discontinue its operation in 1951. In any case, by December of that year when the twenty-year contracts for Stead's Ranch, Brinwood Ranch-Hotel, the Jack Woods Cottages, Bear Lark Lodge and the Fern Lake Lodge lapsed, each of the concessionaires was given only a two-year contract extension. [68] This step was followed later by a notice to Park officials from Park Service headquarters that five-year contract extensions, from December 1953, would be allowed for Bear Lark Lodge, Sprague's Lodge, Camp Woods, and the Brinwood Ranch-Hotel, but no further extensions would be granted. Clearly the days of the concessioners in the Park were numbered.

Meanwhile the Park Service's land purchase program gained momentum. During fiscal 1948 an option was approved to purchase the historic 159.98-acre Lulu City townsite, located at the headwaters of the upper Colorado River. An option was taken on approximately 50 acres located just west of the National Park utility area, and negotiations were started for the purchase of five additional tracts of private land. [69] These steps were followed in the next five years by the acquisition of 1,940 acres of inholdings, many of them containing useful buildings, for total of $176,115. [70]

By June 1953, Canfield's staff completed and forwarded to the Region 2 office the five-year acquisition program for the whole Park, with emphasis on the east side of the Divide. Such planning was supplemented of official appraisals of selected tracts, and by obtaining options on almost 900 acres of inholdings, including the Forest Inn property. During the following fiscal year, 1954-1955, further appraisals were carried out on both sides of the Divide, and the Park Service purchased the Faulkner Cabins in Moraine Park from Dorothy and Edgar Stopher. Old family names, some familiar geographic place names, were gradually removed from property signs and mailboxes in the Park—Williams, Woolf, Husted, Fischer, Godchaux, Ashton. Other names too would soon be missed—Summerland, Faulkner Cabins, Farmers Union Sawmill. These changes, however, were but a prelude to subsequent developments.

In the summer of 1956, outstanding success marked the National Park's boundary, road-building, and land-purchase programs. On June 27, 1956, President Eisenhower extended the eastern boundaries by proclamation, thereby adding 320 acres of non-federal lands to the Park. Although the new boundaries were irregular, the annexed territory lay generally south of the utility area, west of Estes Park Village, and between the utility area and the Big Thompson entrance to the Park. Some 240 acres of the total rested high on Eagle Cliff. Sixty of its acres were developed and included land owned by the Estes Park Gas Company, the Graves Gas Company, and the proprietors of the Northrup Cottages and some private homes. [71] Of course, all such private holdings would have to be purchased before their ownership passed to the government, and Park officials announced it would be some time before sufficient funds would be available for such purchases. [72]

Hard on the heels of this boundary extension came the announcement by Superintendent James V. Lloyd on August 31 that the Park Service planned to build a nearly two-and-a-third-mile eastern approach road to the National Park. The road would branch off of State Highway 262 in the vicinity of Beaver Point and connect with the Trail Ridge Road at Beaver Meadows. [73] Such a road had been considered since 1932, when the project was first proposed to Congress. The old approach had been a narrow country road, which became increasingly unsatisfactory for the volume of traffic it had to carry. It contained many blind curves and was poorly maintained, and as the amount of travel to the Park increased, reaching a total of 289,000 cars in 1948, there was a corresponding increase in the number of accidents. [74]

Consequently, in 1949, the Park Service introduced a bill into Congress to authorize the acquisition of a 500-foot right-of-way for the new road. The width of the right-of-way was based on a desire to eliminate or control commercialism such as the Park Service considered undesirable along the old approach road. The bill was readily passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President on August 24, 1949. Then, the Park Service began drafting plans for acquiring the necessary land, while awaiting Congressional appropriations to implement them. [75] Superintendent Lloyd had told the Trail that the land acquisition program might extend over a considerable period of time, and he predicted correctly. But meanwhile, real estate values on the various properties to be acquired were to be determined by a group of experienced and impartial Colorado appraisers. [76]

By 1956, this land purchase program, as marked by Superintendent Lloyd's announcement of a plan to construct the new approach road, became a part of a larger Park Service project. At that time, the Service initiated the most far-reaching plan of nation-wide park development and park preservation in the history of the Service. The ambitious program was called Mission 66, because it was intended for completion in 1966. Its design was two-fold. First, the program was aimed at the development of additional and vitally needed accommodations for Park visitors, such as campgrounds, visitor centers, interpretive exhibits, and additional trails and roadways. The second aim was to locate these facilities in areas where they could be developed without deterioration of the natural features of the land. Also as part of Mission 66, overnight accommodations would gradually be excluded from national parks, and the government would continue to acquire inholdings. [77]

Because of the initiation of Mission 66 there was much activity in the Park's Land Office during the autumn months of 1956. Forty-three tracts of land had to be purchased in connection with the new approach road and Management Assistant Patterson conferred with the majority of the landowners. During January 1957, the contract appraisers had completed their Basic Data Report and then continued with other aspects of their assignment. By July, all owners of land to be purchased had been contacted either personally or by mail. Appraisal reports were completed in August and within two months options had been received on 36 of the 43 tracts.

While this important work was going on, the proprietors of Sprague's Lodge notified Park officials that Sprague's Lodge would cease operations with the close of the 1957 season. The proprietors requested the termination of their contract, which had a year to run, because of increased costs of operation and the need to spend considerable sums to rehabilitate the depreciated government-owned plant. [78] The Park Service agreed to terminate the contract, so by the end of the year, the Lodge was closed down. So for the first time since 1908, Rocky Mountain Park was unadorned with the name of Sprague. [79]

The elimination of Sprague's Lodge and the imminent elimination of all other government-owned overnight concession accommodations caused the Estes Park Chamber of Commerce directors to urge a community study of the Park Service policy. The special reason for the study arose from the announced Park Service plan to acquire and raze commercial facilities in order to restore the Park's "natural surroundings," when at the same time Parks Director Conrad Wirth reportedly said that some of the land would be used for picnic areas and camp sites. [80] The Estes Park Trail wondered how "picnic areas and camp sites" would serve to "restore the setting to natural surroundings."

The Trail asked some cogent questions:

Just how much 'low altitude' land does a campground for 400 people require, Mr. Wirth? Is it less or more than the land required for lodges of similar accommodation?

We favor guarding and retention of natural beauty, but not capricious change from one type of human use to another. [81]

In another issue, the paper expressed bewilderment:

We can't quite understand why folks who desire lodge accommodations are to be denied the same privilege of 'living in the Park.' A hundred people living at a lodge create less confusion, less muss and fuss, than a hundred camping out. [82]

During August 1958, the Trail continued its editorial campaign. It found that buildings were still standing which once belonged to Moraine Park Cottages, Faulkner Cottages, and Sprague's Lodge. With the exception of Sprague's, many of the other buildings were occupied by Park personnel. In fact, a greater development than before had been made at Moraine Cottages. The Trail asked, "Is this returning the Park to the glory that was given it by the Creator?" [83] By September, the paper was pleading with the Park Service not to discriminate against Rocky Mountain Park.

We hope that we will be put in the same category as Yellowstone, Teton, Glacier and many other parks where accommodations are being improved, not removed.

We are not asking for more; we are merely asking that we be permitted to keep what we have, on a long-term basis. [84]

Faced with this outcry, the Park Service sent a questionnaire to various local organizations, including the Trail, to find out specifically what accommodations the people wanted in the Park. Rumors, therefore, circulated that the Service was reconsidering or "backing-down" on its concession policy. The rumors proved to be true. After considering the replies to its questionnaire, the Park Service modified its earlier directive during the following November. The Fall River Lodge in Horseshoe Park and the Brinwood Ranch-Hotel in Moraine Park would be permitted to continue operations through 1959, even though their leases expired before then. Plans were drafted to enter into concession contracts effective January 1, 1960, for the operation of the two facilities, plus Sprague's Lodge, on long-term 20-year leases. Meanwhile, local Park officials were advised to proceed with the elimination of the other overnight concession operations in the eastern section of the Park. [85]

As a part of its modified concession plan, the Park Service sought informal offers for the operation of two of the lodges. Director Wirth announced that successful applicants would be required to furnish such public accommodations as overnight lodging, food, and a saddle horse livery. The operators would also have to finance the costs of modernization and rehabilitation in line with Park Service development plans. [86] But there were no takers.

In September 1959, word came that the two lodges were closing down. The operator of the Fall River Lodge told the Trail that the terms offered by the Park Service for the new 20-year lease were unacceptable. They involved an investment of approximately $112,000 "without even touching guest improvements. His counter-proposal and request for an additional season for operation were both refused by the Service. [87] The operator of the Brinwood Ranch-Hotel also failed to reach agreement with the Service. Thus, two more landmarks of the Park were taken one step closer to obliteration. Probably speaking for many local residents, the Estes Park Trail viewed the passing of the two lodges with regret. "Change generally is a wonderful thing . . . but sometimes its manifestations are difficult for the Old Cowpoke to swallow." [88]

Other aspects of the Mission 66 program meant construction, as when in January 1960, contracts were let for improvement of the Fall River Entrance area; slope stabilization along the Trail Ridge Road on the west side of the Park; and grading, base coursing and bituminous surface treatment of the Bear Lake Cutoff road. [89] Additional purchase of inholdings paved the way for further construction, although at other times it was delayed by difficulties in effecting such purchases, as for the property of the Deer Ridge Chalet. [90]

This Chalet was an exceedingly popular and garish gift-store which annually attracted over 1,500,000 visitors. Negotiations for this 224-acre property had been underway for some years between the Ed Schubert family corporation and the government. Thorough appraisals were made in 1955 and again in 1958, but when no final agreement could be reached, the government started condemnation proceedings. Documents for condemnation and a "declaration of taking" were filed in the United States District Court in Denver in late March 1960. The government was successful in its effort, and thereafter paid $270,350 for the property. [91] In this case Park staff members visited the numerous private lands owners in the vicinity to maintain "good relations with the local people," as well as to allow Park officials to keep abreast of changes in land ownership and development. [92] This same effort for good relations, plus fair evaluation of property, made it possible to acquired readily all but two of the 43 land parcels needed for the eastern approach road to the Park, and in these two instances, the evaluations were determined by jury trials. [93]

A major land purchase within the Park in 1962 concerned Stead's Ranch, which was the last major dude and guest ranch on the Park's east side. It also represented the last remaining land within the Park of the original 2,000 acres of homesteads taken out by members of the Abner Sprague family in 1862. Various Park officials had worked for years to purchase this property, but either a lack of appropriations or a clash of personalities had stopped the sale from going through. Superintendent Allyn Hanks completed the purchase during July by working closely with its owner, and keeping outside interference to a minimum. [94] A price of $750,000 was paid for approximately 600 acres of land in and around Moraine Park, and all the buildings of the 185-capacity ranch. In all, eight tracts of land were involved, including a nine-hole golf course. [95]

Saddened by the news of the purchase, the Estes Park Trail editorialized, "The community will be poorer without Stead's; impoverished spiritually, if not actually. No man ever lived who could afford to lose a single friend." [96] Park officials defended the purchase as but a continuation of the Park Service's policy to acquire all private lands within the Park's boundaries in order to restore the area to its natural state. Ironically, the Park Service then reluctantly established a campground near the location of the dude ranch to meet the demands of a growing number of campers. To many local residents the campground seemed a poor substitute for the old Stead's Ranch. [97]

The Park's west side was also the scene of a notable land deal when in February 1963, the Park Service and the Colorado Transportation Company perfected a land exchange which had been contemplated since 1957. The exchange, as authorized by Congress, permitted the government to convey its interest in the Fall River Pass Store on Trail Ridge Road and the land surrounding Grand Lake Lodge, in exchange for equally valued private lands within the National Park. In addition, the act provided that the 47 acres of land encompassing the lodge be excluded from the Park boundary, by action of the Secretary of the Interior. [98]

A month later, a master list of all land acquisitions in the Park was drawn up. It showed that since 1923 when the program began, the government had purchased 11,080 acres at a cost of $3,235,000. [99] Some 2,300 acres remained to be bought, in 150 separate parcels. Park officials stratified these parcels according to desired priority of purchase time. First priority lands included those tracts needed for Park developments, such as roads or bridges. Next were lands that 13 homestead owners wished to sell, "old folks with a friendly, wholesome relationship with the Park." Third on the time schedule were cabins or homes which were conspicuous, but which were not up for sale. Last were small and inconspicuous private developments, such as lands in Tuxedo Park and Eagle Cliff. A Park official estimated that it would take 30 years to buy up the remaining private lands. Although by 1965, purchasing such land was no longer a great problem, the Park Service hoped to finish the job as quickly as possible, because the owners might sub-divide, thus complicating the land purchasing program. [100]

In addition to furthering the land purchase program, Mission 66 had aided numerous types of construction. By 1965, a total of $4,391,711 had been spent on construction projects in the Park and Shadow Mountain National Recreation Area. These projects included roads and parking areas; buildings, such as the ski lodge at Hidden Valley, three entrance stations, two power-generating systems, 32 modern comfort stations, the Alpine Visitor Center (dedicated at Fall River Pass in the summer of 1965), and an elaborate Administration Building, complete with administrative offices, information lobby, and an auditorium for interpretive programs. [101] All told, that is counting Mission 66 funds and regular Park appropriations, an estimated $8,000,000 had been expended on the Park and Recreation Area from 1956 to 1966. Still much remained to be done to prepare the Park to meet and serve the more than 2,000,000 visitors who pass the entrance stations each year. [102]

Ironically, Mission 66, by "modernizing" the Park and by making travel in it more attractive and comfortable, had detracted from the Park's scenic naturalness. Campers rest where pioneers once homesteaded. Roads wide and with gentle grades make Park travel easier but not necessarily more meaningful. Shelters warm the body, but in some cases, block scenery which could inspire the minds of visitors. Still, amid all the campgrounds, buildings, and comfort stations, Park officials were proud of the fact that there have been preserved unspoiled areas where man could walk and sit and muse. As one official has said

When you travel to a section of the Park which is not adulterated by man, where you see no beer cans or cigarette butts, where the only trails are those make by elk or deer, then you think 'My God, this is something special!' and you experience a secret delight in being there, alone. [103]

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004