History of Scotts Bluff National Monument
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Superintendent Anderson

Frank H. Anderson
Frank H. Anderson
Superintendent, 1954-1958

Superintendent Frank H. Anderson's assignment to Scotts Bluff was effective September 5, 1954. A native of New Jersey, he had been stationed in Yellowstone National Park for about 24 years previous to this.

It was during the summer and fall of 1954 that the Frontier Broadcasting Company of Cheyenne, Wyoming began testing facilities on the summit of the bluff. When these tests proved satisfactory the company applied for a permit to construct a television station and tower on the summit:

Cheyenne, Wyoming

September 18, 1954

Mr. Conrad Wirth, Director
National Park Service
Department of the Interior
Washington, D. C.

Dear Sir:

This is to make application for permission to locate the television station, Construction Permit for which was recently granted by FCC, within the boundaries of Scotts Bluff National Monument.

Our engineering studies have shown conclusively that this is the only feasible location for the station, to serve the entire community, known generally as the valley (Valley of the North Platte River, in the vicinity of Scottsbluff, Nebraska).

Enclosed are various maps, narrative statements, which will disclose how these conclusions were reached.

The population in the area to be served, approximately 54,000 people, are presently without TV service, and the proposed station would appear to be their only chance in the foreseeable future to get service.

We would appreciate an early decision, so that construction can be commenced in time to be completed before bad winter weather sets in.

Any additional information requested will be furnished immediately.

Very truly yours,
Frontier Broadcasting Company
By /s/ Win. C. Grove
Wm. C. Grove, Treas. [153]

This formal request started a storm of controversy which raged until the late spring of 1955. Probably every person in the North Platte Valley discussed the merits of such an undertaking. Resolutions were passed by nearly every important organization in the Gering-Scottsbluff area, either supporting the project or opposing it. [154] That the advent of TV in the valley was inevitable or that it would be a great benefit to viewers and business was never questioned. The issue revolved around the use of Monument lands for such a non-conforming structure.

Director Wirth answered this initial request on October 1 denying it and advising location of the station and tower at another location. [155] National Park Service policy was outlined and reference was made to the establishment Act of 1916. Other letters and requests were received from Senators, Congressmen, and other officials. Mr. Wirth answered all of these, explaining Service policy on such matters. [156]

However, due to the strenuous efforts of the Frontier Broadcasting Company, with help from all of Wyoming's delegation to Congress and the Governor, as well as from many local citizens and various service and civic clubs and other groups, it was decided to hold a public hearing in Washington on January 10, 1955. Superintendent Anderson attended this meeting as did representatives of the broadcasting company, several local citizens and business men (all of whom favored the project), Congressman A. L. Miller, and Wyoming's delegates.

During December 1954, field tests had been made by local television sales concerns cooperating with Ranger Hackett. These tests were conclusive in showing that an alternate site, some 10 miles north of Scottsbluff, adjacent to State Highway 87, was much superior to the proposed Monument site. [157] The results of these tests were significant in the meeting of January 10 and the National Park Service used them as an aid in again refusing the application.

Director Wirth denied the application for a second time on February 8, 1955. [158] Senator O'Mahoney appealed this decision to the Department of the Interior, but the Department upheld the Director's decision, [159] and the issue was closed. The Frontier Broadcasting Company then accepted the alternate site as the best place for their station and construction began there in May. [160]

When Ranger Hackett was transferred to the position of Museum Curator at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, St. Louis, Missouri, in March 1956, it was decided to reinstate the title of Historian for the single permanent uniformed employee for the Monument under the Superintendent. Eli "Dan" Potts was selected for this position from a list of Civil Service eligibles [161] and assumed his duties on June 11, 1956. [162] He remained at the Monument for little more than one year before resigning to accept a teaching position.

On June 20, 1956, the Oregon Trail Museum Association was organized at Scotts Bluff. This association is a cooperating organization with the National Park Service and offers various publications, post cards, color slides, and other materials for sale in the Visitor Center lobby. It is non-profit and uses its funds to assist the Government with its library facilities, interpretative program, land acquisition, and other educational activities at the area. It was incorporated in March 1959. [163]

Before this time, the Rocky Mountain Nature Association had operated a subsidiary sales counter in the lobby. These sales started in June 1943, [164] and continued until Scotts Bluff organized its own association. The first sales item at the Monument was the 16-page information bulletin written by Custodian Mattes in 1941. Sales started about the first of May in 1942. [165] When this booklet was out of print, about 1955, Mr. Mattes completed a historical handbook which was printed in December 1958 and went on sale almost immediately. This handbook is the only official sales publication which deals with the Monument.

On August 9, 1956, Chimney Rock was designated a National Historic Site by the Secretary of the Interior. This famous Oregon Trail landmark is located about 23 miles east of Scotts Bluff near the town of Bayard. While the State of Nebraska owns the 83-acre site, it is jointly administered by the town of Bayard, The Nebraska State Historical Society, and the National Park Service. The Superintendent of Scotts Bluff National Monument handles inquiries concerning the site and provides advice on various interpretive matters. The National Park Service prints the informational folder for the site, prepared by Park Historian Harris, in 1957. The Site is undeveloped, except for a small roadside picnic area built in 1961. The rock itself is about 1-1/2 miles south of State Highway 92.


History of Scotts Bluff National Monument
©1962, Oregon Trail Museum Association
history/chap13.htm — 26-Jan-2003