Director Mather had difficulty in finding a new
Custodian after Will Maupin's departure. The position was nominal and
few local men would agree to take on the responsibilities at a salary of
$12 a year. However, in August, 1925, Nebraska Congressman Robert
Simmons recommended to the Director, Mr. Albert N. Mathers as Custodian.
Mr. Mathers, President of the Gering National Bank,
accepted the position when notified by the Washington Office, and took
office on September 4. He had been a resident of Nebraska most of his
life, having been born at Nebraska City. When he died on April 18, 1951,
at the age of 69, he was still President of the Gering bank.  He served as Custodian of Scotts Bluff
until June 15, 1934, when he resigned to run for Congress.
Evidently the persistent recommendations and
proposals of Mr. Maupin had made an impression in Washington. In June
1926, Custodian Mathers was surprised to receive $100 for new picnic
tables and other accommodations at the small picnic area. The entire
allotment for the Monument for fiscal 1927 amounted to $162. The
remaining amount was for personal services (salary) and for sanitation
and garbage disposal. 
With the $100, Mr. Mathers was able to have
constructed one "double closet," two cement fireplaces, and 15 posts.
 After much correspondence with the
Washington Office, Mr. Mathers was also able to start plans on another
project. This was the construction of a new trail on the east side of
the bluff to replace the original slanting foot path. It was agreed that
a total of $1,000 would be spent on this project. The National Park
Service would match funds amounting to $500 to be raised by Mathers
through donations, subscriptions and contributions. Actual direction of
the work would be carried out by Park Service personnel. 
With this agreement, preliminary work commenced. Mr.
Bert H. Burrell, civil engineer from Yellowstone National Park, arrived
soon after the first of the fiscal year and spent about one month at the
Monument surveying and staking out the route of the new trail. It was
decided at this time the best and easiest ascent could be made by
zig-zagging the trail from the base of the bluff at the site of the
picnic area to the point where the wooden ladder or stairway was
located.  Another route could be
taken by the hiker near the top of the trail by walking along a ledge on
the west side of the projection known as "saddle rock"  and thence to the summit by means of
another zig-zagging path.
"Scout Trail" was constructed by
laborers in 1927 and often was called the "zigzag trail." The first
picnic grounds were located at the foot of this trail.
Actual construction work was held up until Custodian
Mathers could raise the stipulated $500. During the winter months of
1926-27, many organizations contributed to the project and citizens from
all over the North Platte Valley sent in their pennies and dollars to
help raise the necessary funds. Each contributor received a signed
certificate giving him or her permission to use the new trail. This was
merely an honorary permit since no fee was charged for using the
By the end of April 1927, the $500 was raised and the
Government promptly matched this amount. Mr. Arthur W. Burney, National
Park Service Engineer who was at Yellowstone National Park at the time,
left there on May 16 to take charge of construction. 
Many organizations and business firms had contributed
to the project. The Gering and Fort Laramie Irrigation District donated
explosives for use in blasting out rock along the route. The Boy Scouts
of America, through the scout troops of Scottsbluff and Gering,
contributed time and manpower to the job. Because of the cooperation of
this organization in helping to raise funds the new trail was officially
designated the "Scout Trail," although most people referred to it simply
as the "zig-zag" trail.
In June 1927, Mr. Burrell returned to the area and
inspected the work. He reported on June 18 that the trail was completed
and in use.  The $1,000 had been
spentmostly for the payroll of laborers and tools and equipment.
Both the Gering Courier and the Scottsbluff Daily
Star-Herald sung their praises of the new trail.  Organizations began using the improved
picnic grounds for meetings and outings. One of the first to do so was
the National Editorial Association convention in June.
With all of these improvements, it seemed that even
more were needed. Vandals took their toll of the picnic benches and
tables and would-be auto "hill-climbers" would test the abilities of
their "jalopies" by seeing how far up the new trail they could drive
before they stalled or found the trail narrowed down to a point beyond
which they could not go. 
Custodian Mathers attempted to remedy this situation
by erecting signs at various points along the pathway. People taking
short-cuts from one section of the trail to another and sliding down
across the trail started erosion problems. One new large wooden sign
FEDERAL LAW: HORSES OR MOTORCYCLES FORBIDDEN ON THIS
TRAIL. KEEP ON THE PATH. ALL CUTTING ACROSS CORNERS, OR FROM PATH TO
PATH, OR SLIDING, IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN.
OFFENDERS WILL BE PERSECUTED [sic]. CASH REWARD PAID
FOR NAMES OF ALL VIOLATORS. THE GOVERNMENT NATIONAL PARK SERVICE."
Custodian Mathers was ordered to change the wording
HORSES OR MOTORCYCLES FORBIDDEN ON THIS TRAIL. KEEP
ON THE PATH. ALL CUTTING ACROSS CORNERS OR FROM PATH TO PATH, OR
SLIDING, IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN.
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR"
Other improvements were made to this area during the
years of 1928, 1930, and 1931. In August 1928, the cities of Scottsbluff
and Gering cooperated in having a power line run into the picnic area
and street lights were installed. The local chapter of the Daughters of
the American Revolution in 1930 had a "Memorial Arch" erected at the
foot of the new trail. A bronze plaque in memory of Hiram Scott was
embedded in a granite boulder erected at the site. This was just to the
north of the Memorial Arch while the wooden "Federal Law" sign was just
to the south of the arch.
Hiram Scott Memorial Arch and bronze
plaque were located at the foot of the Scout Trail. Both were erected by
the Katahdin Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, in
William Henry Jackson at dedication of
the Hiram Scott Memorial Arch and bronze plaque at the foot of the Scout
Trail, July 8, 1930.
Custodian Mathers had a new interpretive sign made
and placed at Mitchell Pass just a few feet away from the original
granite marker erected there by the State of Nebraska in 1912. The new
sign contained some misinformation but was a step ahead in explaining
the significance of the area to the interested visitor. It read:
BETWEEN 1830 AND 1865 MORE THAN TWO MILLION PEOPLE
PASSED HERE, WESTWARD BOUND. ALONG THIS HISTORICAL OREGON TRAIL MORE
THAN FORTY THOUSAND EMIGRANTS ARE BURIED. THIS PASS WAS A FAVORITE
INDIAN AMBUSH. THE BLUFF WAS NAMED FOR CAPTAIN SCOTT WHO DIED AT THE
SPRING, ONE MILE NORTH EAST FROM HERE. FORT MITCHELL WAS LOCATED
ONE-HALF MILE WEST AND TWO MILES NORTH FROM THIS PASS, AND FORT LARAMIE
52 MILES UP THE RIVER. THE OREGON TRAIL IS THE LONGEST IMMIGRATION TRAIL
IN THE WORLD'S HISTORY.
SCOTTS BLUFF NATIONAL MONUMENT
A. N. MATHERS, CUSTODIAN
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
DEPARTMENT OF THE
This sign remained in the pass until 1939 when it was
replaced by a more accurate sign affixed to a pylon structure.
There was still some opposition to having Scotts
Bluff as a National Monument in the late 1920's. The National Conference
of State Parks proposed to the Director in 1928 that the National Park
Service transfer Scotts Bluff to the State of Nebraska for the purpose
of making it a State Park. There was some feeling that the Federal
Government was not paying enough attention or expending adequate funds
for some of the Monuments. National Parks seemed to be getting the
lion's share of the appropriations. 
There was still considerable local pressure to further develop Scotts
Bluff and this, perhaps, had some hand in getting such a proposal
through the Conference. Stephen T. Mather denied this proposal, but his
time as Director was growing near the end, and when he resigned in
January 1929 the position went to one time opponent of the Monument,
Interest in the building of a road or highway to the
summit of the bluff seemed to grow in the mid and late 1920's. Custodian
Maupin's 1920 proposal, although laughed at then, had not been forgotten.
Just before leaving office, Maupin had received a copy of a resolution
by the Yoder, Wyoming, Chamber of Commerce to the Director. 
"Whereas, the Scottsbluff National Monument is a
beautiful and worth while attraction, and especially to our community
which is devoid of hills and mountains.
Therefore, Be It Resolved, that we request the Hon.
S. T. Mather, Director of National Parks and Monuments, to appropriate
sufficient funds to provide a highway
so that the Monument may be accessable [sic],
. . .
And, That an automobile road be constructed from the
base of the monument to the top thereof,
And, That sufficient funds
be appropriated for the putting of a well on the top of the bluff,
And, That the forest reserve be requested to provide
and plant suitable trees on the monument."
Following this resolution, which was publicized in
several local newspapers, more letters and requests followed. The
Gering Courier and the Scottsbluff Daily Star-Herald
editorialized on the merits of such a project and several letters to the
editors of both papers supported the idea. Only one or two letters
opposed it and the Scottsbluff Pioneer went on record as opposing
any such project which would spoil the scenery of the bluff. 
Director Albright was invited to visit the Monument
and see for himself what could be done to promote the bluff as an
attraction to visitors from other states. He agreed and arrived on June
16, 1931, with F. A. Kittredge, Chief Engineer of the Service, and
Clifford Shoemaker, Chief Engineer of the Bureau of Public Roads,
District 5. A general survey had been going on by the Bureau for the
past several weeks and this visit coincided with the final report.
Custodian Mathers, Congressman Simmons, A. B. Wood,
H. J. Dollinger, and H. J. Wisner accompanied Director Albright on a
tour of the Monument. They hiked the foot trail to the summit, drove to
Mitchell Pass, and met with a committee of interested persons concerning
the future development of the area. Albright stayed three days and
approved verbally the construction of a road to the summit. The report
of the Bureau of Public Road surveyors allowed that such a road could be
constructed.  Mr. Albright was
evidently impressed by the view from the summit and is reported to have
said that he had no idea of the scenic and historic significance of the
In spite of all of the enthusiasm for development,
lack of funds still prevented any real work to be started. The
Monument's annual budget for fiscal 1931 was $212 of which $12 was for
salary and $200 for campground improvement. At this time, there were 20
picnic benches at the site and reports indicate that it was being used
almost continuously during the summer months.
Director Albright was determined to develop the
Monument and returned the next year for another inspection. On Sunday,
September 11, 1932, he was accorded a public reception and picnic at the
picnic area. The Star-Herald reported that 2,000 people attended
the gathering and the Scottsbluff municipal band participated.  Albright spoke at this event and stated
that construction of a summit road was now assured since more federal
funds were being made available to help fight the depression which was
then in full progress. The reception was sponsored by the Associated
Chambers of Commerce of the North Platte Valley. Returning with Mr.
Albright on the second trip was Mr. Shoemaker. Other guests included
Verne Chatelaine, National Park Service Historian; Howard W. Baker,
Landscape Architect (now Regional Director of Region Two); Edward B.
Rogers, Superintendent of Rocky Mountain National Park; and Edward
Freelund, Superintendent of Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota. 
At this time, some talk and discussion was given to a
proposed Oregon Trail National Parkway. Although nothing ever came of
this idea, it remained a live issue well into the late 1930's. Mr.
Albright favored this project at the time, but later National Park
Service records indicate that conflicts of land interests and other
considerations prevented any real action toward achievement.
Bureau of Public Roads officials had also returned to
the Monument and staked out the approved route of the new road during
the summer. Now, only funds were needed to start construction.
With the advent of increasing federal funds to help
fight the effects of the depression, the picture at the Monument looked
brighter. This was especially true with the change of administrations in
March, 1933. Custodian Mathers received enough funds from federal
appropriations to start rough grading to the site of the first of three
tunnels to be blasted through projections along the route of the summit
road. Work also began on construction of a parking area at the east end
of Mitchell Pass where a museum was also to be located. Construction of
a new foot trail from Scotts Spring to a junction with the Scout Trail
near the top of "Saddle Rock" was started at the same time. To reach
this junction, a small tunnel was blasted through "saddle rock."
Although records are not clear on these various aspects of early
construction, it is known from subsequent reports that all phases were
carried out by a private contractor, the E. W. Nichols Construction
Company,  and that the total
contract allotment was $9,000. Howard W. Baker, landscape architect, was
in immediate charge of these operations while the Bureau of Public Roads
directed actual work on both the road and trail.