History of Scotts Bluff National Monument
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Mission 66

Another "era of development" for the Monument began with the advent of MISSION 66, a ten-year conservation program for the National Park System which proposes to develop and staff these parks so as to permit their wisest possible use, maximum enjoyment for those who use them, and maximum preservation of the scenic, scientific, and historical resources which gave them distinction. The program commenced July 1, 1956 and is to be completed in 1966, the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the National Park Service.

new foot trail
"Mission 66" at the Monument included construction of new foot trails and the paving of old ones such as the trail from the Museum to Scotts Spring. Historian Harris points the way.
—Courier Photo

Superintendent Henneberger

John W. Henneberger
John W. Henneberger
Superintendent, 1958-1962

When Historian Potts left on July 28, 1957. [166], Earl R. Harris was transferred to Scotts Bluff from Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota. Late that same year, Superintendent Anderson was notified of his promotion and transfer to Harpers Ferry National Monument, West Virginia. He left on January 25, 1958 [167] and was succeeded by John W. Henneberger [168] who had been stationed at Olympic National Park, Washington. On March 23, 1958. clerk-stenographer Louise Ridge was promoted to the position of Administrative Assistant at the Monument.

The planning of the MISSION 66 program for Scotts Bluff had been accomplished during Superintendent Anderson's tenure between 1955 and 1957. Construction activities, land acquisition, and boundary revision proposals were carried out during Superintendent Henneberger's tenure of office with the exception of the electrification and improvement of the water supply system which was completed by I. H. Peters of Alliance, Nebraska on September 23, 1957.

A "package" development in 1958 included construction of a second residence at headquarters, a two-stall addition to the utility building, and a new 460-seat amphitheater, or "campfire circle," for summer evening interpretive programs. This is located directly behind the visitor center. Also included was a concrete vault in the basement of the visitor center for protecting valuable Jackson material and other artifacts and items. Other improvements included in the package contract were air conditioning of the visitor center, construction of wood fences, terraces and walks, and bituminous surfacing of driveways at headquarters.

In 1958, Harry F. Berggren & Sons was awarded the contract for paving the trail from headquarters to Scotts Spring and from the parking lane in Mitchell Pass to the Jackson campsite. Under this contract, existing summit trails were improved and a new one constructed from the parking area there to a "south summit" overlook.

Historian Harris showing original Conestoga Wagon
Historian Harris showing original Conestoga Wagon to Monument visitors in July, 1959. Wagon was purchased by the Oregon Trail Days committee of Gering, and the Oregon Trail Museum Association.
—Courier Photo

Wayside exhibits and interpretive signs were installed along the newly constructed trails and at other key points on the summit during the summer of 1959. These included the Hiram Scott memorial marker, two routed aluminum signs and nine routed wood signs. MISSION 66 also called for the seeding and planting of grass, trees, and shrubs at head quarters and this project was completed in 1959 by day labor. [169]

The Andresen Construction Company of Scottsbluff was the general contractor for the majority of these construction projects and this work continued from April 4, 1958 [170] to October 31, 1958. [171] Total cost of the MISSION 66 program was $92,466.40. (This figure does not include cost of installation of new exhibits and cases in the Visitor Center.

The revision of exhibits in the Visitor Center was started in 1960. Exhibits were completed in the fall of that year in the History Wing and the name of the wing was changed officially to the "Oregon Trail Room." The name of the "Paleo" or "Prehistory Wing" was also changed to the "Landmark Room" and 1962 will complete exhibit revision for this room.

On-to-Oregon Cavalcade
On-to-Oregon Cavalcade camped at Scotts Bluff National Monument, May 26, 1959.
—Christian Studio

Conservation programs under MISSION 66 at the Monument included soil and moisture work for erosion control on the summit and at Mitchell Pass, Visitor use is heavy at these two places and causes much "human" erosion. Although removal of the Bureau of Reclamation power line through Mitchell Pass is a part of MISSION 66, it is not anticipated that this will be completed until near the end of the program. [172]

The National Park Service is responsible for preserving the Oregon Trail ruts and maintaining the natural setting consistent with the period of Trail use. To enable the Service to do this, Monument boundaries should include sufficient lands to insure the protection or restoration of the scenic integrity of the principal bluffs and adjacent landmarks such as Dome Rock, the Badlands, and the North Platte River. To accomplish this objective, a boundary revision study, which had been going on for many years, was completed in 1959. This work was done by the Boundary Studies Section of the Division of Recreation Resource Planning in the Region Two Office. A bill, introduced by Congressman Don McGinley of the Fourth Nebraska Congressional District on March 2, 1960, would have put these boundary proposals into law. However, some controversy concerning a section of this bill which would have changed the designation of the National Monument to a National Historic Site, caused delay and no action was taken. The bill, minus the designation change, was reintroduced and passed in 1961 in the 87th Congress, by Congressman David Martin.

Two important land acquisitions were made during this period, however, and both are in line with the proposal. The first of these was the purchase of 27.43 acres of land within the proclaimed boundary in the northeast section of the Monument known as the "badlands." Title to this land was received on April 10, 1959, when $1,500.00 was paid to Mrs. Sadie Hise, owner. [173]

The second purchase concerned about 20 acres of land comprising the east half of Dome Rock. The Oregon Trail Museum Association bought this historically important acreage from Mr. and Mrs. Charles Gering for $2,000.00 on June 3, 1959. [174] This land will become part of the Monument.

Such a boundary revision would be the fourth since the original proclamation of December 12, 1919. Others were: Executive Order of May 9, 1924 [175], eliminating 160 acres from the reservation located in the southeast section; the Proclamation of June 1, 1932 [176], adding certain lands along the east boundary of the Monument, including Scotts Spring; and the Proclamation of March 29, 1940 [177], adding certain lands along the north Boundary of the Monument, including certain islands in the North Platte River.

Harold R. Jones
Harold R. Jones
Superintendent, 1962-

All of these revisions, deletions, additions, and purchases have changed the total acreage of the Monument several times. On February 1, 1960, Scotts Bluff National Monument contained a total of 3,451.52 acres of land, 2,198.78 of which are federally owned. [178]

Substantial progress has been made on the staffing and fiscal portions of the MISSION 66 program of the Monument. During the 1956-1969 period the Monument staff was increased with the creation of a permanent Forman I—Cartetaker position. Edward Wolf who had held a similar position on temporary basis was reassigned to the full-time position on August 25, 1958. Adequate appropriations were given the Monument to maintain the facilities that were constructed so that the Monument has an adequate staff and sufficient funds to properly protect, interpret, and maintain the Monument land and facilities.

All the uncompleted phases of the MISSION 66 program for Scotts Bluff National Monument except the removal of the Bureau of Reclamation transmission line through Mitchell Pass are expected to be accomplished by 1966.

Mr. Henneberger was notified of his transfer to the Region IV office, San Francisco, California, in late December, 1961, and was succeeded by Harold R. Jones in March, 1962. Mr. Jones had been stationed at the Region II office, Omaha, Nebraska. He previously served as Ranger at Rocky Mountain, Wind Cave, and Yellowstone National Parks.


History of Scotts Bluff National Monument
©1962, Oregon Trail Museum Association
history/chap14.htm — 26-Jan-2003