Harold J. Cook|
When Custodian Mathers decided to run for Congress,
he was obliged to resign his position.  His resignation became effective on
June 15, 1934. Dr. Cook was made Acting Custodian and later on December
20 he was appointed Custodian and thereby became the third man to hold
this position. The custodian's salary remained at $12 per year.
Dr. Harold J. Cook, born at Cheyenne, Wyoming, on
July 31, 1887, had been a resident of Nebraska most of his life. As a
paleontologist and geologist, he has been associated with the American
Museum of Natural History, the Nebraska State Geological Survey, the
Colorado Museum of Natural History, the Chadron State Teachers College,
the Western State College in Colorado, and the Cook Museum of Natural
History. He is a rancher, consulting geologist, lecturer, and author and
resides at Agate, 50 miles north of the Monument. 
Through the Public Works Administration (P.W.A.),
limited funds were made available for laborers to continue some grading
and filling on the summit road. Plans were also formulated for
construction of a museum, a new picnic grounds south of Mitchell Pass,
and for water and communications systems.
A General Land Office Survey of the Monument
boundaries in 1933, surprisingly, showed that all of the development on
the east slope of the bluff was on privately owned land and not within
the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Henceforth, all attention
was focused on the west side and nothing further was ever done with the
facilities at the base of the Scout Trail.
It became apparent by early 1935 that more action was
needed to speed up operations. Working through Congressman Terry
Carpenter, before he left office in March, and with other interested
persons assisting, Custodian Cook was able to get a Civilian
Conservation Corps camp built in the "badlands" area of the Monument in
April. A large consignment of C.C.C. men moved in immediately to
commence work where the C.W.A. and P.W.A. crews had left off.  As many as 200 men were stationed at
this camp at various times. The camp, No. 762, was constructed mostly of
wood and adobe and was evidently intended to be semi-permanent. Other
C.C.C. camps nearby included one near Mitchell, Nebraska, and one at the
Wildcat Hills State Park. Crews from each of these camps stayed at Camp
762 for a short time while their own were being built.
Civilian Conservation Corps Camp 762 was
located in the "Badlands" area of the Monument from April, 1935, through
May, 1938. As many as 200 men were stationed at this camp.
With the advent of C.C.C. labor at the Monument and
new work projects being planned and executed, it was decided by the
Washington Office that Dr. Cook should be appointed as Project
Superintendent. Although this designation did not take effect until
April 30, Cook had been informed of his new appointment and that his
position as Custodian would have to be terminated. He was, however,
designated as Acting Custodian until the end of June. The correspondence
on this reads:
"April 11, 1935
Dr. Harold J. Cook,
Custodian, Scotts Bluff Nat'l Monument [sic]
Dear Dr. Cook:
You are hereby designated Acting Custodian . . . of
Scotts Bluff National Monument for the duration of your employment under
ECW as Project Superintendent. Formal notification of this appointment
will follow as soon as effected.
(Sgd.) A. E. Demaray
"April 24, 1933
Mr. Harold J. Cook
You have been appointed by the Secretary of the
Interior, subject to taking the oath of office, a Project Superintendent
Gr. 10 on Emergency Conservation Work, at a salary of $2,300 pa.
effective on the date of entrance on duty; assigned to Scotts Bluff
National Monument, Nebr., terminating Exc. A, as Custodian at $12 pa.,
This appointment is for emergency work for such
period of time as your services may be required on such work and funds
are available therefor, but not to extend beyond June 30, 1935 . . .
(Sgd.) Guy W. Numbers
Acting Chief, Division of
Appointments, Mail and Files." 
During the year and a half that Dr. Cook served at
Scotts Bluff, it would seem that he held five or six different positions
at one time or another: Leader of the Research Group, Temporary Ranger,
Acting Custodian, Custodian, Project Superintendent, and again, Acting
Charles E. Randels, National Park Service engineer,
arrived at the Monument at this time to assist in planning and
supervising actual work. Mr. Randels divided his time between Scotts
Bluff and Devils Tower National Monument where certain phases of federal
relief programs were being conducted.
By late spring plans for the museum and headquarters
building  had been completed and
funds were made available for construction. The Fullen Construction
Company of Gering (now located in Scottsbluff) was awarded the contract
on their low bid of $9,507.  This
contract was for construction of one room and a small lobby which was
completed in the fall of 1935. This room was known as the "History Room"
until 1960 when its name was changed to the Oregon Trail Room."
Oregon Trail Museum under construction
during October of 1925.
The C.C.C. crews resumed grading and filling
operations on the summit road soon after establishing their camp in
April 1935. Work also commenced on the new picnic grounds west and south
of Mitchell Pass, a road from the site of the museum to the camp in the
badlands by way of Scotts Spring and the Scotts Bluff Country Club, a
water supply system, fencing of the federally-owned boundaries, and
seeding and planting operations. The water supply system was vital since
the demands of the camp were great. Pipelines were dug and pipe laid
underground to the new picnic area and to reservoirs on the bluff above
headquarters. This system, with some later modifications, is still being
used for the water supply at headquarters.
On June 15, 1935, Custodian Cook was notified that he
was being relieved of his position at Scotts Bluff. He continued,
however, as Acting Custodian and Project Superintendent until July 15
when Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, notified Mr. Randels that
he was appointed to succeed Dr. Cook.