James A. Cary

Park Ranger James Alexander Cary
Hot Springs National Park Ranger James A. Cary

Image courtesy of James Orvis Cary

Hot Springs National Park Ranger James Alexander Cary, a World War I veteran who joined the National Park Service in 1923, was murdered by bootleggers on March 12, 1927 while patrolling on West Mountain. He thereby became the first National Park Service Ranger to be killed in the line of duty.

Cary was born in Missouri on 19 December 1895 and served in the U.S. Navy during World War I. He began his federal service in Hot Springs at the U.S. Post Office in April 1919 and worked there until the end of March 1920. Cary then worked at the Army & Navy General Hospital from July 1921 to mid-January 1923. In October 1923 Cary received his appointment to Hot Springs National Park as a law enforcement ranger. He was paid $1,000 per year with a bonus of $250.

Five people were arrested for Ranger Cary's murder, but no one was convicted of the crime. Cary left behind a young widow and two small children.


A female ranger delivers a program near one of the thermal springs.

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A black and white view at downtown Hot Springs in the early 1900s.

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Last updated: June 16, 2020

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Mailing Address:

101 Reserve Street
Hot Springs, AR 71901


501 620-6715

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