America's National Monuments
The Politics of Preservation
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Chapter 9:
The New Deal and the National Monuments

As Mather's assistant, Albright considered the educational possibilities of the national parks. When he became director, Park Service interest in educating visitors, "interpretation" in the parlance of the agency, increased. Throughout the 1920s, individual rangers made casual efforts to explain the significance of specific areas to the public, and Pinkley and his staff explained prehistory, but Albright sought a more comprehensive approach. He engaged experts to develop a policy for serving visitors and created the Committee on the Study of Educational Problems in the National Parks in 1929. Albright enlisted Dr. Clark Wissler of the American Museum of Natural History, Dr. John C. Merriam of the Carnegie Institute, Dr. Harold C. Bryant of the California Fish and Game Commission, Dr. Hermon C. Bumpus of the American Association of Museums, and Dr. Frank Oastler, a medical doctor who had long been interested in the national parks, to design programs to convey the significance of the sites to the public. [15]

Like most of Albright's innovations, the educational programs focused upon the national parks. As Park Service visitation increased significantly throughout the 1920s, presenting national parks as vast playgrounds became too narrow a perspective for the agency. The Forest Service too easily copied this kind of presentation. In the climate of the late 1920s, when a reorganization of the federal bureaucracy seemed imminent, the Park Service needed to differentiate itself in order to assert its merit. Earlier in the decade, summer nature walks with rangers began at Yosemite, and Albright seized upon this concept as the way to make a visit to the national parks an educational experience.

But Albright had not reckoned with Pinkley. The idea of a comprehensive educational program was not new to him. By 1930, Pinkley had spent nearly thirty years explaining prehistoric people to the public. Even as the Park Service promoted the national parks as playgrounds, Pinkley used the national monuments as educational tools, but many of his most innovative programs were hampered by a lack of funding. From his perspective, educational programs that focused on the natural features of the parks were a waste of time and money. The archaeological national monuments offered a better medium. Pinkley had ideas galore. In his mind, all he lacked was money to implement them. As a result, he was instantly at odds with a commission of experts hired to tell him how to do his job.

The cantankerous Pinkley was on solid ground with these complaints. The places Steve Mather had made into national parks did not inspire the average visitor to ask questions about natural science. Instead, a view of the Grand Canyon, El Capitan in Yosemite, Mount Rainier, or Tower Falls in Yellowstone left people breathless. Pinkley believed that agency specialists were now trying to intellectualize a largely emotional experience to gain political advantage. He contended that the agency would spend a vast sum of money on interpreting the national parks, the effort would fail, and in a short while, the Park Service would find its interpretive policy in shambles. [16]

Pinkley's objections ran deeper than professional criticism. He saw the agency changing around him and felt threatened. Never a reticent man, Pinkley complained about the emergence of educational professionals and did his best to engage Harold C. Bryant, who became the head of the Division of Education, in controversy. Always ready to assert his position, the Boss loudly demanded better funding. Pinkley wanted a mandate to continue to develop the national monuments as he had throughout the 1920s.

Albright was less than sympathetic both to Pinkley and his national monuments, and by the end of 1931, he had had enough of Pinkley's carping. As director, Albright established an hierarchical central authority that was new to the agency and demanded compliance from his staff. Under Mather, park superintendents had run the day-to-day affairs of the agency, and after 1929 Albright had trouble centralizing authority. Albright soon decided that the field administrators of the agency, including Pinkley, were lax in implementing his orders. He saw a "growing carelessness" in carrying out his directives. Albright professed indignation, asserting that "omissions . . . in many cases have grown to alarming proportions." [17] Although not aimed specifically at Pinkley, Albright's comments summarized the widening gulf of discontent between the director and his most important employee in the national monuments.

The crux of the problem was that Pinkley was used to having his way, and he perceived executive oversight as interference. He had lost sight of the larger objectives of the agency, and in Pinkley's increasingly narrow view, Albright's creation of the educational division was a particular nuisance. Given the same resources, Pinkley was confident he could achieve more than the so-called experts could. No matter what Albright said, Pinkley was not prepared to relinquish his power to make decisions about the future of the places under his care.

Pinkley simply could not adjust to the new realities of the 1930s. He received the kind of attention he demanded, but could not compromise with those who gave it. Unfortunately, attention for the southwestern monuments came too late for the superintendent, who resented the intrusion into what he regarded as his sphere. Instead of compromising, Pinkley created adversarial relationships. He championed his achievements and compared them to those of other departments within the agency. By his own standards, Pinkley came out ahead, and this biased self-measurement became his justification for frequent assaults upon the policies of his rivals.

The national monuments were never in a secure position within the agency, and the new emphasis on education in the national parks made the superintendent wary. To retain his position, Pinkley attacked the Division of Education throughout the 1930s. In his view, the new entity duplicated his efforts and spent money that rightfully belonged to the national monuments. The Nature Notes publication series encroached upon Pinkley's area of expertise. He regarded Education as his chief competitor in the race for visitors, and Pinkley acted as if he thought he could regain his autonomy by outdrawing the places where the experts implemented their programs.

Although past the age of fifty, Pinkley felt like a fresh recruit, and his responses exacerbated conflict with the specialists. To consolidate his position Pinkley pulled out old ideas and began to implement them. He also sought public support for his position, using pamphlets and printed material to reach a wider audience in the Southwest. One such endeavor was the Epitaph, Pinkley's answer to the Nature Notes series that Education published. Pinkley wrote for the publication in the colloquial style he had always used with his custodians, and he made it available to the general public. Bryant did not like the Epitaph and, on 12 May 1932, sent Pinkley a note that expressed displeasure at its style. Pinkley used familiar expressions like "you folks" and "the gang," and Bryant felt that the Epitaph was not professional. "If you desire a standing with scientists and educators," Bryant wrote in a classic bureaucratic tone, "care must be taken to avoid this kind of presentation. The general public can be interested fully as well by the use of simple words and thus the support of all can be maintained." [18] From Bryant's perspective, good grammar and proper English were essential components of any government document.

Perhaps intimidated by Bryant's fast rise in the agency, Pinkley took the criticism as a personal attack. Bryant embodied the trend toward professionalism; he had a Ph.D., whereas Pinkley lacked formal education. Pinkley announced that if requested, he would resign from the Epitaph, ostensibly to avoid embarrassing his rivals. Then Bryant could "drop the Epitaph in the same pod with the other Nature Notes, which are certainly alike as a row of peas," he cynically continued. "It will have a standing with scientists and educators and the chief end of man will be served." [19] Pinkley opposed Bryant's philosophy but the hierarchy obviously supported the trend towards professionalization. Against these odds, Pinkley knew he had little chance.

The battle over the tone of agency publications revealed a deeper rift over the constituency of the agency. Both Pinkley and Bryant sought to advance the standing of the agency, but they envisioned its audience differently. Pinkley sought to appeal to people on their own terms, and his experience showed that southwesterners responded to a colloquial style. He recognized that anthropologists, archaeologists, and scientists were an important part of his constituency, but he believed that in the Southwest, scientists were not as formal as their eastern counterparts. The Epitaph, he thought, did something unique. It crossed boundaries and appealed to both professionals and tourists. Bryant believed that credibility with the scientific community and popularity with tourists were compatible goals, and a well-constructed, professional publication could achieve both. Bryant thought that the agency had an obligation to elevate the standards of the traveling public. In his opinion, the Epitaph did not achieve either goal, and he insisted that Pinkley review his editorial policy. Pinkley refused and threatened to resign from the paper after writing one final and inflammatory column. [20]

Another individualist-professional split strained the agency. Bryant represented the modern professional agency, and Pinkley its traditional posture. The advent of specialists like Bryant affected the way the agency saw its mission, and conflict with proponents of earlier values was inevitable. The Division of Education believed that it served an increasingly educated constituency and wanted to impress it with formal agency publications. Pinkley thought that Bryant was posturing and that his ends were pretentious. "We have a lot of government publications on our office shelves which are as dignified as a plugged hat," Pinkley remarked to Albright, "and nobody ever read the first page of them." [21] In Pinkley's estimation, status interested Bryant more than attracting an audience.

The consequences of increasing professionalization denied Pinkley the latitude he had enjoyed during the 1920s, and the hierarchy came down hard upon its iconoclast. Associate Director Arthur E. Demaray took one look at the final column Pinkley proposed for his resignation from the Epitaph and curtly responded: "I don't think Pinkley should be allowed to use the Epitaph to put forward his own views." Albright landed even more heavily on the superintendent. "I am a little out of patience," he wrote, "with this attitude which is so different from any you have previously taken. I have always figured you as a good soldier. For you to sit back and pout [and say] you feel like quitting and not being associated with [the Epitaph], is taking an unusual position for you or any other of our representatives in the field." Albright would not tolerate this kind of insubordination and even went so far as to remind Pinkley that he held his position "solely because of [his] ability to interpret and apply Service, Departmental and Government rules and policies and to follow instructions from headquarters." While Albright guided the agency, Pinkley would have to obey the same regulations as everyone else. [22]

Ironically, as the monuments began to receive attention from the central administration of the agency, the man who made them important could not adjust to limitations upon his authority. Thanks to Pinkley's efforts, the monuments became too important to be left to the hard-bitten superintendent. Although Pinkley felt the task of structuring new policies should be his, Albright was not prepared to let him have that kind of control.

This fray shaped the evolution of interpretation throughout the southwestern national monument group. Pinkley continued to push for his understanding of the prehistoric Southwest, realizing that a new interpretive program that focused upon the national parks diminished his role considerably. He retrenched to his home territory, relying upon the public he had spent thirty years cultivating. Pinkley replaced the Epitaph with the Southwestern National Monuments Monthly Report, a mimeographed collection of reports of the custodians, which Pinkley liberally spiced with his own thoughts. Each month, the Boss authored a column called "Ruminations," in which he aired his point of view. Ostensibly aimed at custodians in the national monuments, the monthly report also circulated widely in the Southwest. Bryant and the other specialists chafed at Pinkley's colloquialisms and homespun aphorisms, but they could not wrest the Southwest from him. Direct confrontation failed. Pinkley would have to undermine himself before the hierarchy could limit his power.

The New Deal accelerated the conflict between Pinkley and the specialists by increasing the scope of executive oversight in the southwestern monuments. New Deal money was both the solution to Pinkley's problems and the cause of new, more severe antagonism with the central office. Despite successful programs such as the one at Bandelier National Monument, Pinkley found himself grappling with what seemed to him an amorphous bureaucratic monster. As his influence waned, Pinkley became even more rigid in upholding his version of agency standards. He held his ground, which put him continually at odds with the central administration of the agency. The eventuality that Arno B. Cammerer had envisioned a decade earlier came true. Pinkley became a destructive influence within the agency that he loved, and his superiors decided that they had to stop Pinkley before he hurt the public image of the Park Service.

In the end, Pinkley's personal intransigence took matters out of the hands of the Park Service. In February 1934, while Harold L. Ickes was settling into his job in Washington, D.C., Pinkley became involved in a controversy that called his judgement into question. He refused guide service at the Casa Grande to Arizona state senator James Minotto, Henry Horner, the governor of Illinois and an old friend of Ickes, and Ernest Palmer, commissioner of insurance for the state of Illinois, because the men arrived almost an hour after the end of posted visiting hours. Minotto had come to Arizona as a millionaire and was well-known for his overbearing and arrogant behavior. Embarrassed and displeased at the treatment offered to himself and his friends, Minotto complained to Ickes.

Ickes seized upon the Horner-Minotto situation as concrete evidence of his suspicions and pursued Minotto's complaint vigorously. Albright's political sophistication made the Park Service largely immune to the terror Ickes inspired, but when Albright resigned as director in August 1933, the autonomy of the agency went with him. Ickes tried to replace Albright with someone from outside the agency. Albright then persuaded the secretary to appoint Associate Director Cammerer to the top post after Ickes's first choice, Newton B. Drury of the Save-The-Redwoods-League, declined. The genial Cammerer and the blustering Ickes were a less than optimal match. Ickes quickly took an obvious dislike to Cammerer that endured until Drury replaced him at the head of the Park Service in 1941. Ickes also distrusted what he thought was the bureaucratic mentality that promoted incompetence and covered for the mistakes of peers. [23]

Never as decisive as Albright, Cammerer faced a serious dilemma. Less than six months into his term as director, Cammerer was caught between two personalities more powerful than his own. Cammerer had known Pinkley for nearly two decades and was well aware of his devotion to the promotion of southwestern travel and Casa Grande, but Ickes was his superior. The morale of the agency and its position in the Department of the Interior were at stake. On 24 February 1934 Cammerer decided to uphold his field staff in the battle with Washington, D.C. He told Pinkley that he "would bet my last dollar that there is something wrong with these charges, since, if any discourtesies by any chance could happen in the National Park system, it would never be under your jurisdiction." [24] Cammerer hoped that the whole situation was a grotesque misunderstanding.

Pinkley did little to help his cause. Minotto sent him a copy of the letter to Ickes, and in response, Pinkley took the offensive. His letter revealed that he considered himself the supreme authority at Casa Grande. He believed that Minotto planned to "run in and look around for ten or fifteen minutes, and then drive on," Pinkley snidely remarked. "I gave you the regular treatment . . . I thought, as a snap judgement, that you would not steal anything, and were not the name writing vandal we have to guard against; so let down my own rule (not one from the Washington office!), and let you go without a guide." Indeed, Pinkley asserted that the men stayed only a short time, and in his mind, if a visitor could not stay more than a brief period, they certainly did not need his service as a guide. "A guide can no more tell you about the Casa Grande Ruins in twenty minutes," Pinkley rudely continued, "than you can tell a man all about the law, or Medicine." [25] Condescending and argumentative, Pinkley assailed Minotto. He accused Minotto of gracelessness equal to the discourtesy that the senator attributed to him.

Pinkley hoped to turn the situation to his advantage. He wanted Cammerer and Ickes to understand the nature of his major problems. In a more contrite response than he sent Minotto, Pinkley explained to Cammerer that the episode was typical of his problems with visitors. Ignoring the charges against him, he addressed what he perceived as the pivotal issue. Visitors frequently arrived after hours and demanded service, and their attitude bothered him. Few seemed to realize that although Pinkley lived in the compound, he was a government employee who worked regular hours. "We have them come in after dark many times," Pinkley complained, "and assume that we are some sort of watchmen who will light a lantern and lead them through dark and gloomy passages of the ruin where they can get a thrill." [26] Pinkley tried to educate his visitors, but not everyone appreciated his efforts. The unfortunate situation with Minotto helped him to outline a serious problem in his area.

Others in the Park Service were less supportive, but Cammerer still took Pinkley's side. Associate Director Demaray attached a memo to Minotto's complaint that read: "it looks as if Pinkley fell down this time." Cammerer, however, told Ickes that the incident was insignificant and submitted a draft of a reprimand for Pinkley. Although he suggested a five-day suspension without pay for Ranger Frank Fish, about whom Minotto also complained, Cammerer supported Pinkley completely and even wrote letters to Palmer and Horner exonerating Pinkley and implicating Fish. [27] Cammerer was Pinkley's friend, and his response seemed too conciliatory. Ickes also wanted his say.

The boisterous secretary of the interior was angry. Employees of his department had insulted two of his personal friends, confirming every bad feeling he had about perpetuated bureaucracy. Cammerer's lack of leadership in other situations perturbed Ickes, and his decisive support of Pinkley seemed out of character. This evidence of bureaucratic protectionism was too much. Ickes's assistant, Elbert K. Burlew, a veteran of the Hoover administration whose job Albright had saved when Ickes came to Washington, D.C., read Cammerer's reprimand and was also displeased. "If you send the 'reprimand' as prepared, Pinkley will not recognize it as such," Burlew told Ickes. "It is one of the best letters of recommendation I have seen in a long time." Ickes agreed, telling Cammerer that the letter went "out of the way to tell Pinkley what a fine person he is. It creates the impression that he could not possibly do anything that would subject him to criticism." [28]

Never one to ignore an opportunity to attack his favorite targets, Ickes followed through on the impulse to exert his authority. He told Burlew to write a letter that was an indictment of Pinkley, and irritated with Cammerer and Pinkley, Ickes chastised both. "The fact that charges of discourtesy against Mr. Pinkley have not in your judgement been proved," Ickes informed Cammerer, "does not call for a letter of such enthusiastic adulation as you have drafted." Ickes chose to believe Minotto, and when he castigated Pinkley, Ickes cited Governor Horner's response, which he believed corroborated Minotto's charges, as the important evidence in the case. [29]

In his indignation, Ickes let his personal dislike for Cammerer and bureaucracies in general interfere with his judgement. Horner's letter to Ickes supported Pinkley's version of the events much more than it did Minotto's. "Personally," the governor concluded, "I have no complaint to make. Please feel there is no apology due to myself or Mr. Palmer." [30] Humiliated in an effort to impress his friends, Minotto probably overreacted. But Ickes was determined to show everyone in the Park Service who was in charge of the Department of the Interior.

Instead of Cammerer's reprimand, Pinkley received harsh sanction. Ickes found Pinkley's response to the situation unprofessional. No matter how Pinkley justified it, his "established resentment against late visitors" was unacceptable to Ickes, who did not believe that "discourtesy to the unfortunate individual who may unintentionally transgress a code that you have fixed in your mind" was an appropriate solution. Furthermore, Ickes found Pinkley's response to Minotto "distinctly objectionable." The letter destroyed any qualms that Ickes had about judging Pinkley guilty, for it "clearly discloses an attitude that would motivate in the mistreatment of visitors." Ickes suspended Pinkley from duty for five days without pay and informed Cammerer that a man who will write a letter like that should either correct his attitude instantly or be dismissed from the service." [31]

If Pinkley needed more evidence that the Southwest was no longer his autocracy, Ickes certainly provided it. Ickes was an advocate of strong centralized leadership, and he demanded that every employee of the Department of the Interior behave according to his standards. Horner and Palmer were his friends, and Casa Grande was his responsibility. The situation embarrassed Ickes, and he felt compelled to do something. Even after Horner's conciliatory letter, which Ickes seems to have purposely misinterpreted, his bias against bureaucratic behavior and personal dislike of Cammerer influenced his decision. In Ickes's Department of the Interior, underlings had to watch what they did.

But Pinkley also shouldered responsibility for the incident with Minotto. Long before Harold L. Ickes became secretary of the interior, Pinkley developed what Ickes called an "evident feeling of proprietorship" about Casa Grande. [32] Since the turn of the century, Pinkley had run the ruin and personally entertained more than 100,000 visitors. His work was indirectly responsible for the visit of Minotto and Horner. If Pinkley were not there, Casa Grande likely would have remained as obscure as the Gila Cliff Dwelling or the Fossil Cycad national monuments. Pinkley created visitor interest in Casa Grande and insisted upon the guided tours that figured in the incident with Minotto. Casa Grande was his home, and his life was closely tied to it. He was not prepared to relinquish that control, particularly to the people who ignored his predicament throughout the 1920s.

Although he felt wronged, Pinkley accepted Ickes's decision as gracefully as he could, and the episode changed the superintendent's view of his position within the agency. During the 1920s, Pinkley had decided that the spotlight could only help the national monuments. He gravitated toward it, attending meetings, making pronouncements, and generally calling attention to himself and the monuments. But later in 1934, he tried to avoid attending the annual conference of superintendents in Washington, D.C., his usual forum for airing grievances. Fearing humiliation at the hands of his growing number of rivals, Pinkley did not want to face his peers.

Relations between Pinkley and Washington, D.C. continued to deteriorate. Nothing the Division of Education did pleased Pinkley. If Bryant did not offer assistance, Pinkley felt slighted. If specialists from Education proposed programs for the national monuments, Pinkley felt threatened. From Bryant's perspective, every effort was futile. The status quo did not please Pinkley either, and after 1934, his attacks upon Education escalated.

Pinkley's position became increasingly paradoxical. He wanted funding from Education, but disregarded its advice. No matter what Bryant offered, it fell short of what Pinkley thought he deserved, and to upset his rival, Pinkley often acted as if Bryant's offers were insulting. But Bryant had the ear of the leadership of the agency, and the interpretation programs in the national parks were successful. Educational money and advice were intrinsically linked, and Pinkley could not have one without the other.

Throughout the 1930s, the central administration and its authority on the periphery clashed. Pinkley publicly assailed the museum practices of the Division of Education, and Cammerer had to determine policy for the agency. Although he was the head of the Park Service, Cammerer had considerable sympathy for Pinkley's position. But in the end Cammerer was forced to accept that professionalization was the direction of the future for the NPS. On 5 October 1936 Cammerer flatly ordered Pinkley not to attack Education in public. [33] Cammerer wanted criticism brought up via the proper channels instead of in a public referendum. The agency had too much at stake to appear to be squabbling.

Pinkley responded as an outsider, loudly pronouncing his position. This set the stage for open conflict, and Cammerer had an intraservice war on his hands. Pinkley lacked another forum in which to vent his anger, and after Cammerer's rejoinder, he chose to continue his attacks. Cammerer did not want the situation to escalate, but he could not make Pinkley leave the educational division alone. Pinkley's wrath was no longer an occasional occurrence. He appeared to have a systematic plan of attack and did not think of letting up.

Pinkley had outlived his usefulness to the Park Service. Like Richard Wetherill before him, he could not see that his time had passed. Although the Park Service had developed in no small part because of what Pinkley had accomplished, there was little place for an uncompromising individualist like Pinkley in the new Park Service. He had to change or find himself bucking an increasingly powerful central administration on a regular basis. Although consistently able to achieve excellent results with very little money, Pinkley always went his own way. Adjusting to bureaucratic responsibility would not be easy.

By the 1930s, there was little other than his work in Pinkley's life, and the stress soon affected his health. His wife, Edna, died suddenly in 1929, and afterwards, he totally immersed himself in his work. Even failing health did not deter him. In 1937 he had a serious heart attack that forced him to temporarily reduce his work load. A kind of peace descended upon the Southwest. Pinkley became less aggressive, and the view of him in the agency softened. In 1938 Pinkley finally convinced Cammerer to approve a school to prepare future custodians for work in the national monuments in the manner that park rangers were trained for the parks. He had first suggested this idea during the 1920s, but it was not approved until the end of 1939. Throughout the winter of 1939-40, an ecstatic and again healthy Pinkley made plans for the opening of the school. On 14 February 1940, as he finished the introductory speech at the opening of the first session, Frank Pinkley collapsed on the podium and died of heart failure. [34]

It was a fitting way to die for a man so passionate about his work. The national monuments were his life, and he achieved the goal that perpetuated his system of care. Pinkley created the system that facilitated archaeological tourism and was instrumental in bringing the Southwest to the attention of the American public. Millions of people visited the monuments he had struggled to preserve, and because of his efforts, they left knowing a great deal more than when they arrived. Although Pinkley's enthusiasm and energy brought the southwestern national monuments to the attention of the Park Service and the nation, there was one thing he could not do. He could not make prehistoric culture more interesting to the American public than its Euro-American past.


America's National Monuments: The Politics of Preservation
©1989, Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
©1994, University Press of Kansas
All rights reserved by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

rothman/chap9a.htm — 04-Feb-2005

Copyright © 1989 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. Material from this edition published by the University Press of Kansas by arrangement with the University of Illinois Press and may not be reproduced in any manner without the written consent of the author and the University of Illinois Press.